Lectionary Selection: Luke 24:36b-48
Interfaith Cooperation Forum fosters understanding and respect for other faiths and cultures in Asia as part of its School of Peace and other programs.
Prayers for Hong Kong:
Lord, when you appeared to the disciples after your resurrection, they saw you, they heard you, but they did not believe that the person in front of them was you.
Similarly, we too today, Lord, have heard your message in the Scriptures, but we, your modern-day disciples, likewise fail to believe, for we prefer to follow our own ways and not the teachings you gave us to respect life, to love everyone unconditionally regardless of their identity, to comfort and care for the poor and marginalized, to uphold peace grounded in justice.
The result of our disbelief, of our “blindness” and “deafness” to your message, is the world that we have created. In Asia, profits and power are put before people; development is put before the environment. In Hong Kong, unaffordable housing has pushed people into ever smaller spaces to call home; the elderly collecting cardboard and other items are the backbone of the city’s recycling industry. In short, money matters most, and life in all its manifestations is disrespected and sacrificed.
To transform this world, Lord, we pray for eyes to truly see, ears to truly hear and a heart to truly feel. With new eyes, new ears and a new heart, we pray that we can finally and fully trust you and believe in your message; and within this trust and rekindled belief, we will find the peace that you offer to each one of us that is what we all are really seeking. The decision we know, Lord, is ours. We pray for the wisdom and courage to let go of our egos and believe. Amen.
Mission Stewardship Moment from Hong Kong:
Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) has sought to be a beacon for change in Asia since its inception in 2003 by nurturing a movement of youth from different countries and different faiths to take actions in their communities and countries that will contribute toward societies where justice is a norm and peace is an outcome of this process, i.e., justpeace. ICF works to bring about this transformation through its 12- to 14-week School of Peace (SOP) and other workshops and programs. Presently, more than 130 youth of 20 to 30 years old in 17 countries who are Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims and indigenous people who practice their own spirituality have participated in SOP.
In SOP and its other programs, ICF emphasizes the role that one’s identity plays in today’s conflicts and exposes the participants to various ways that people respond to conflict. ICF also offers tools to analyze the dynamics of power within a society and some strategies to react when this power is abused, such as through community organizing, human rights advocacy and the use of different forms of media—street theater, art, music, etc.—for education and support for change.
After the conclusion of SOP, ICF maintains an ongoing connection with its network and has encouraged the creation of national forums in countries where there are five or more SOP alumni with national forums currently established in nine countries: Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, the Philippines and Thailand. These national forums, in turn, organize their own programs, such as short-term SOPs of one to three weeks, Festivals of Justpeace that celebrate the struggle of people and other workshops.
In short, ICF is a “farmer for justpeace” that is planting seeds among Asia’s youth, who then plant their own seeds through the programs they organize at the local or national levels in their countries.
One “seed” is Tirmizy Abdullah, a Muslim man in Marawi City on the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines. His community has been destroyed by five months of fighting between ISIS-affiliated groups and the Philippine army. When the fighting began in May 2017, Tirmizy helped inform people about the violence in his city by posting regularly on Facebook about the violence that was taking place and organized relief goods for those who were displaced by the fighting. He also worked to organize a peace walk and rally on March 30, 2018, calling for the people of Marawi to make the decisions about the rebuilding of their city, for the Philippine government is planning to build an ecozone and military bases in Marawi with minimal input from the local people.
In our world today, we need more people like Tirmizy as there cannot be enough seeds for justice and peace.
(Prayer and Mission Moment by Bruce Van Voorhis)
Mission Partners in Hong Kong:
- Asian Human Rights Commission
- Christian Study Institute in Chinese Culture and Religion
- Chung Chi College Divinity School
- Hong Kong Christian Council
- Hong Kong Christian Institute
- Hong Kong Christian Service
- Hong Kong Christian Women's Council
- Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China
More information on Hong Kong: http://www.globalministries.org/hong_kong
Global Ministries Mission Coworker in Hong Kong:
Bruce Van Voorhis serves the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs in Hong Kong as coordinator of interfaith programs. His appointment is due to gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.