Most of you know that for some time I have been considering returning to work in Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). In the past month I have decided to do this and now have definite plans. I plan to leave in mid-July and return mid-September.
I still feel a call to stand with and work along-side those of the world who are weak and powerless, oppressed by the military/industrial powers of our society. I continue to be given a love for the Iraqi people, and sense that we have a common thirst for Peace/reconciliation/wholeness/justice, etc. as is encompassed in the Arabic word, sala’am (similar to the Hebrew, shalom). Working there in the past, I’ve experienced God’s guidance and care for me. Hopefully this trip will give me clarity about whether I will, after this trip, lay this work down or do more of this work.
The base for our team in Iraq is still in the city of Suleimaniya, in the Kurdish region in the northeastern part of the country. This continues to be a relatively safe area in the country for internationals to live and work. From there, the team sometimes travels to other parts of the northern region, but has not found it workable to live and work in central and southern Iraq.
Currently the team accompanies/works alongside local groups working for justice and reconciliation, including villagers whose land is being taken by international oil companies to explore and develop. The team monitors the situation for Syrian refugees in Iraq and the fledgling peace process between Turkey and the Kurdish rebel groups along the border. Often the team responds to request for support or accompaniment from individuals or groups experiencing or fearing violence. A month ago the team observed the elections, reporting on gross violations by security forces under the control of the two major political parties.
If you are interested in reading more stories about what the Iraqis have experienced since the 2003 invasion and the work of Iraqis for peace and justice in their society, you may be interested in my newly published book, Walking Through Fire: Iraqis’ Struggle for Justice and Reconciliation (Cascade Books, 2013).
Once again, I hope to send frequent reflections and reports of what is happening in Iraq and about the people we are working with. Please feel free to share your thoughts or questions for me now, or when I am on team.
I am grateful for and treasure your ongoing love, prayers, and support,