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Editorial Comment

Why We Should “Love Thy Neighbor”
By Angela Forcier

Why I Do What I Do: Life in Bududa, Uganda
By Barbara Wybar

HROC and the Batwa Ethnic Group in Rwanda
By Theoneste Bizimana

Living Abundantly
By Deborah Dakin

A Bumpy Road to Mediation By George Brose

Applying These Teachings: Testimonies from Congo
By Zawadi Nikuze

By David Zarembka

Reaching a Common Reconciliation
By Adrien Niyongabo

Welcome Back
By Dorcas Nyambura

Living Abundantly
By Deborah Dakin

Deborah Dakin is an Iowa Friend who teaches viola at Augustana College. She was formerly the Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) representative to the Friends Peace Teams and wrote this as an email in response to funding concerns. She has organized speaking tours for a number of AGLI partners in the eastern Iowa region. Friends Peace Teams also sponsors program in Colombia, Central America, and Indonesia.

Dear Friends,

One of the greatest things that I have gotten from my involvement with Friends Peace Teams (FPT) is what I have learned from the folks who do this peacework in circumstances so far removed from my own non-war zone US life. I can say that they have given me faith lessons and that it would be hard for me to begin to give back even a fraction compared to what I have gotten.

We are all familiar with the story of Jesus feeding the multitude with loaves and fishes. It appears in all four of the Gospels. But John tells the story with an added twist that personifies what the FPT Africans have taught me, and strikes right to the heart of what we are called to do.

When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?" He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, "Six months wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." One of his disciples. Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?" Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was a great deal of grass in the place, so they sat down, about five thousand in all. (John 6:5-10 NRSV)

One thing David Zarembka talks about that has made a strong impact on me and others is the concept of living and acting in "abundance" versus living and acting from "scarcity".
Frequently Dave tells us that Africans inspired in their many projects, have a first response that is one of faith: "This is a great idea. Let's pray and act and make this happen!" Everyone recognizes that Americans in similar situations frequently have a completely different first response: "This is a great idea. How much will it cost? Can we afford it?" It is obvious when comparing life in the US to the countries where we work, who has much and who has little in terms of money and resources and yet we find that it is the Americans who are frequently limited in vision because of our tendency to act from scarcity instead of abundance. How easy it is to think like Philip or Andrew!

Partly because of what our African, Latin American, and Indonesian Friends have taught me, I find myself continuously having a strong reaction to the language pervading our country about the financial crisis and how we don't "have anything". I do not want the pervasive view of "scarcity" that permeates almost all discussion about money in this country be the basis of how I think about FPT. I read many of Jesus' parables as a call for generosity, and one that is a challenge for rich and poor to answer alike. But it is also the key to what he is calling the Kingdom of God. This generosity is not talking about a "dollar amount" but how we feel about what we have and what we give.

If people in this country are worried about their dollars then a donation to FPT is certainly a fantastic investment since a few dollars goes a very long way. After all, FPT has almost no waste in the budget, at least I have a hard time finding any. David once told me a weekend workshop that we raise funds for [HROC or AVP] costs about $35 per participant. Isn't that amazing? Where else can you get that kind of return on so few dollars?

Please understand that I am not underestimating anyone's financial concerns - either our own or the people we support. I am not saying that an American's financial worries do not qualify as "real". I recognize that some people in the United States are really financially strained during this economic crisis. But I don't want to waste time trying to figure out "who can give what". I constantly struggle to not join the crowd in worrying about my own family's finances, so I'm speaking of what I am trying to do, not what already is. This is what I thank the Africans for showing me: If our work truly IS based on the faith that Jesus taught, we should not limit our vision to only our small, human capabilities and what we could accomplish with or without God's help

All of us have our own financial situations, and regardless of what they are, nobody knows the future. But I do think that how we discuss this is important, if indeed we are an organization of faith. I hope we promote our work with joy and confidence and approach people from a sense of abundance instead of feeding their (and our) sense of scarcity.

Let's do the work, and have faith that we will get what we need.

Next article: A Bumpy Road to Mediation By George Brose