On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

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About the Book:

What if reconciliation is central to the biblical message? And what if Christians, who have been missing the mark for millennia, are awakening to the gospel of peace? International mediator and Mennonite John Paul Lederach offers guidance for Christians seeking guidance in Scripture and personal applications of reconciliation. Originally published as The Journey Toward Reconciliation and based on Lederach’s work in twenty-five countries across five continents, this revised and updated book tells dramatic stories of what works—and what doesn’t—in resolving and transforming conflicts. A section of resources for congregations and small groups offers litanies, discussion questions, resource lists, and practical ideas for peacemaking in everyday life.

“Lynne and I feel deeply called to the work of peacemaking these days. We know it is very near to the heart of the One we serve. No one’s writings have helped us more than John Paul Lederach’s.”—Bill Hybels, co-founder and senior pastor, Willow Creek Community Church

Buy Link: Amazon

My Review:

After describing the horrifying evening when he was informed that his daughter was the target of a kidnapping plot aimed at undermining his peace building efforts in Costa Rica, John Paul Lederach wrote the following paragraph:

I can no longer take John 3:16 as a short formula for salvation. I can only understand it as a foundational principle of reconciliation. It is an ethic based on willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of an enemy. It is an ethic undergirded by and made possible only through the immeasurable love and grace of God.

This statement is pivotal to Lederach’s approach to conflict resolution which involves approaching your enemy in the hope of understanding him and finding common ground rather than attempting to force him into accepting your point of view.

When my son, Christian Piatt, first recommended this book to me, I told him it would probably be over my head. I’m a lazy intellectual, and I have to keep reference sources close at hand when reading a lot of what he reads, as well as some of what he writes. He assured me that Reconcile was written in a narrative style that makes it an enjoyable as well as an educational read. He was right. Lederach’s stories draw the reader into the personal lives of his own family and of those he has met in his ministry of reconciliation while also teaching how to find the truth, justice, mercy, and peace that are so lacking in our conflicted world.

I was further concerned that, since Lederach’s work is global in scope, his insights would have little practical application for a small-world person like me. While I am aware of the chaos that makes up the nightly news, and I attempt to vote and live in a responsible manner, my primary focus is geared more toward the people whose lives touch mine on a more personal level, both here in small town America and on the Internet where my life intersects with others through my writings and theirs. However, the path to conflict transformation outlined in Reconcile is applicable to individuals, churches, and workplace environments as well as an international setting.

Christian recently posted an interview with the author on his blog. Following is his last question and Lederach’s answer.

If you had one dream for the impact this book would have, what would it be?

That it provokes reflection and meaningful conversation that leads to taking a risk, maybe a small step, toward building better, more healthy relationships in and through the many conflicts life affords us.

This book is an interesting read but not an easy one. It’s not one to be scanned and put back on the shelf. Instead, it is a text to return to often, to meditate over, to share in a group study. If enough of us read, understand, and live these truths, perhaps Lederach’s dream will come true.

About the Author

John Paul Lederach has worked in international reconciliation for more than thirty years. He has developed training in conflict transformation and provided direct mediation and support services for reconciliation efforts in some of the most violently conflicted regions across five continents.
Lederach has consulted with the highest-level government officials and national opposition movements in war-torn settings like Nicaragua, Somalia, Northern Ireland, Colombia, Nepal, and the Philippines.

As professor of international peacebuilding and director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Lederach is the founding director of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia.

He is the author of twenty-two books and manuals and numerous academic articles and monographs on peace education, conflict transformation, and mediation training. Lederach’s books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he is in international demand as a lecturer, consultant, and mediation trainer.

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