Peace Bridges

PB1

By: Diane Harvey, our fearless justice leader from Perth, Australia

Peace Bridges are also a Cambodian Christian NGO. This is the project that we have been supporting in our church. This is the one that people back home will want all the detail about.

After decades of war and conflict, violence as a response to difficult situations has become common and accepted in Cambodia.

Do you know anything of the Pol Pot regime? 1975-1979. Millions murdered. Nothing about Cambodia will make sense if you don’t know something of the loss and the trauma of these and subsequent years.

PB2One of the first things we did was to go to the Killing Fields. I call it the Killing Fields Memorial because in reality the whole country was covered with Killing Fields. You can see one of my photos. A tree where innocent children were smashed to death. This is one of many horrifying monuments. The red that you see are bracelets of visitors leaving a remembrance.

From there we went to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21). A former school, it was institutional grey, and another place of imprisonment, torture and death. Records meticulously kept by the regime. Photographs. Face after face of prisoners. Room after room. Young. Old. Male. Female.

2014-10-04 15.14.48Peace Bridges is working to train ‘Peace Builders’ to overcome the effects of their turbulent past and bring peace to Cambodia.  Peace Bridges works by providing long-term training to key people. Peace Builders work at the grassroots level with people in their community, be it their own family unit, or an organisation.

I was able to observe some training taking place, and got to interview many of the trainee Peace Builders. I spoke to a Buddhist monk, a prison guard and a Christian pastor. We heard stories from the CEO,  and then from some who had completed the training and were implementing it in their sphere of influence. We listened to someone from Prison Fellowship Cambodia, and some Bible college principals. All of the stories had the same theme: the training had helped them personally, and then they were able to teach others the skills they needed for non-violent conflict resolution.

PB4I was really encouraged to see Peace Bridges as a unifying force among the Cambodian Christian Community. I also learned the importance of good governance in a country where corruption is so prevalent and tempting. I was surprised that they welcomed and appreciated the scrutiny about such by members of the team.

I’m really happy to continue to support this project. They are doing an incredible work!

 

I Love Your Voice Series

yellow heartMeet Diane Harvey

Her Family: Married with two young children and a black Labrador-cross called Lucy

Location in the World: Perth, Australia (That’s the capital city in the state of Western Australia)

Three favorites: Wow, it’s so hard to think of only three but I’ll get deep and say Love, Clean Water and Hope

DSC00094What is your calling? To learn about Jesus, to teach about Jesus, and to follow Jesus.

How has God has worked through you that has become a part of your redemption story? Slowly, slowly, bit by bit, God has been giving me jobs to do. When I first left theological college I was like an exuberant puppy, straining at the lead, eager to do something, while at the same time feeling inexperienced and insecure. But over the last few years I have found it really encouraging and humbling to be given positions of responsibility. It fills me with joy!

How do you place yourself in the proximity of renewal that gets your heart beating faster? Knowledge is good, and information is good, but it’s what you do with it that counts. I want to have a practical faith: one that hears and understands, and then acts. We all know that faith without deeds is dead. What good is it to me if I agree with all the teachings of Jesus, and then not do anything about it? I don’t want to be just a bobble-headed Christian, nodding in agreement on a Sunday morning.  My desire and heartfelt wish is that I live out my life of faith by actions and not be content with mere mental assent. Unfortunately, my ‘self’ gets in the way. Ignorance and Apathy always fight with me and I regularly let them win, to my shame.  I’m a Pharisee daily. Thankfully – and praise be to God – there is forgiveness, mercy and grace as I keep starting and keep trying.

Knowing my failings, I am so grateful to have an encouraging team around me. We call ourselves the “Social Justice Group”. It’s not a very creative title, but it gives you an idea about what we’re all about. Our mission statement is, “We exist to inspire in our pursuit of following Christ’s command to show love and justice to others.” Jesus’ instruction following the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) is a challenge to me personally:

Jesus asked, Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

We’re involved in a few different things but our main focus for the next three years will be our adoption of the “Peace Bridges” project in Cambodia, in partnership with Baptist World Aid Australia.

Kim Vanden Hengel writes: Cambodians have suffered immensely during decades of war and internal conflict. Many have witnessed terrible acts of violence and suffered significant personal trauma. Over many years, oppressive regimes have crushed any who spoke out against injustice. All this has impacted significantly on the Cambodian people and their ability to deal with conflict. Sadly, violence as a response to difficult situations has become common and accepted, both in the home and in the community. Fear and mistrust have left people feeling powerless to change their circumstances. They are struggling to rebuild families and communities of trust, love and acceptance. With limited access to services, those who struggle most with these issues are often the poor.

Peace Bridges works by providing long-term training to key people, called Peace Builders. Peace Builders work at the grassroots with people in their community, be it their own family unit, a church or an organisation. Peace Builders use their training to help others to deal appropriately with conflict, and ultimately to bring about change for the whole community.

Many Cambodians were killed during the years of strife. Some of those who are parents today grew up without parents themselves, and often have little experience of healthy family life. Domestic violence is very common. Some Peace Builders will be selected for further training in more complex issues, sharing their skills with people living with violence in the home.

Through word of mouth, Peace Builders impart their learning to others in their community to bring about widespread change. Peace Bridges provide support and training on a regular basis to help with this process.

We are planning a trip to Cambodia this year to look at this project, so hopefully I will be able to tell you all about it later in the year!

Thanks for encouraging us Diane! We will love to hear all about your trip. 

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