Lynne Hybels

Three Reasons for Waging Peace, Guest Blog by Lynne Hybels


In the early 90s a horrible war took place in Eastern Europe as the former Yugoslavia crumbled. It was a vicious war, complete with ethnic cleansing and atrocious crimes against humanity. Soldiers would enter a village, rape all the women, and take away all the men and boys over thirteen.  Most of them never returned alive; many ended up in the mass graves. Twice during that war I traveled with a humanitarian organization to Croatia and Bosnia.  We visited refugee centers filled with middle-class women just like me who had lost everything: jobs, husbands, homes, their planned-for future. We visited schools where social workers tried to help kids who had watched their parents die when shells landed in their homes; they suffered so severely from post-traumatic stress that they sat all day staring blankly while they silently chewed their fingernails, trapped in their own little world of horror and pain.  We walked through the rubble of entire neighborhoods, stumbling over the scattered reminders of daily life: a broken teacup, a scuffed shoe, a tattered doll.

It was the first time I had seen war up close and I was stunned by what human beings do to one another.

But it wasn’t the last time I saw war.  Years later I walked through the villages of Eastern Congo, where the deadliest war since WW II has claimed almost 6 million lives, and where rape as a weapon of war has brutally violated tens of thousands of women and girls—women and girls with whom I wept.

More recently, I sat on a concrete floor in Jordan with Syrian refugee women whose empty eyes told the silent story of their losses and their grief.  And in recent months I spent hours at my computer waiting for word from friends I’ve met during numerous trips to Israel and Palestine—friends who suffered severely during this summer’s war in Gaza.

While I never consciously decided to hang out in war zones, that’s where my path led and continues to lead.  Along the way, I’ve learned three key lessons.

1. Violent conflict has the capacity to destroy everything, from the body of the tiniest baby to the infrastructure of an entire society.


Body, mind, soul, families, crops, wells, houses, schools, hospitals: all these can be ruined when the bullets fly and the bombs fall.  In recent decades, many American Christians have become convinced that acts of compassion and the fight for justice are central to what it means to follow Jesus.  Many churches are leading the way as agents of holistic transformation in communities throughout the world, living out the Kingdom of God in beautifully practical ways.  That’s all good, but it’s not enough—because it will all be undone if there’s war.  Violent conflict can turn the greatest of our good deeds into nothing. Our most earnest gains for justice can be lost.  Where violence reigns poverty is a given, human trafficking flourishes, disease ravages, the displaced lose everything, hope dies.  If we care about any of the great global tragedies, we must also care about waging peace.

2. What happens on the grassroots level matters more than we think.

DRC August 2013_5573

I used to believe that the most significant dimension of peacemaking happened on the national or international level.  The truth is that political powers can declare ceasefires and create temporary solutions, but they can only foster sustained peace when they build upon a foundation of grassroots peacemaking.  In the Democratic Republic of Congo, violent rebel groups recruit fighters by capitalizing on tribal differences and small local conflicts.  However, when local peace-builders—pastors trained by World Relief in conflict resolution—help build bridges between tribes and resolve local conflicts according to Biblical principles, the violent rebels are thwarted in their recruiting efforts; people who have experienced the fruit of reconciliation have little motivation to become fighters.

In a conflict as seemingly intractable as the one in the Holy Land, grassroots peacemakers are, even now, offering a path toward peace.  My Israeli friend Robi and my Palestinian friend Bassam each lost a child to the conflict.  Not wanting other families to suffer as they have suffered, they speak together in schools, churches, and civil organization in the Holy Land and throughout the world, representing a growing group of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families who are committed to grieving together and then working together for reconciliation and peace.  While political leaders bring nothing but disappointment to the Holy Land, people like Robi and Bassam—and hundreds of others like them, whose voices we don’t hear on the nightly news—are showing up day after day, slowly building bridges of empathy, understanding and friendship.  I believe that learning from them and lifting up their voices is one of the most important things I can do for the sake of peace.

3. The call to peacemaking is a call to rigorous and costly discipleship.

World Relief Jordan, October 7-8, 2013- Sean Sheridan Photographs

Nothing has humbled me as much as spending time with true peacemakers.  Time and again I’ve been chastised—broken—by the gentle example of men and women for whom loving their enemies could literally cost them their lives.  I look at them and I see how petty I am; how quick I am to pick sides and go for easy answers; how unlike Jesus I am.

John Paul Lederach wrote a book called Reconcile.  In it he suggests that the main thing Jesus brought to his role as a peacemaker was his presence.  There was something in his “presence”—something in who he was and how he showed up—that made the way of peace more likely. I think the “something” that was in Jesus is what the world needs to see in his followers today.

In the aftermath of the Gaza war, a friend from Bethlehem who has been engaged in nonviolence and reconciliation for many years, wrote this to me: “When all the dead are buried and the dust settles, a truer and deeper kind of peace needs to rise up from the rubble of the Holy Land.”  Not a peace that depends on the decisions of politicians or that trips off the tongues of activists, but a peace that bubbles up from the spring of God’s love as it fills us—as it pulls us beyond the limits of our own self-interest to a place where we can see the world as God sees it.

Seeing the world as God sees it—where even our enemy is a person made in the image of God for whom Christ died—doesn’t come naturally to us.  I think it only comes through a journey of transformation grounded in prayer and silence and deep immersion into the words and the way of Jesus.  Then, and only then, can we see the world the way God sees it.  Then, and only then, can we be free to #WagePeace.

#WagePeace with World Relief.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9 Peacemaking is a Biblically-based, long-term strategy for preventing and addressing man made conflict. It directly addresses the tensions woven into the fabric of societies that often lead to conflict and violence.

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Lynne Hybels Speaks on Peace in Kenya

By Allison SchroederWait a minute...Isn't this the Ten for Congo trip? Why Kenya?

One of the hardest things about being an advocate for a particular place -- especially a place as complex as the Democratic Republic of Congo -- is that you have to take into consideration difficult things like international relations, globalization, and regional politics. It is never an easy task to stand for the vulnerable. God calls us to difficult places with complicated contexts.

Part of what has drawn Lynne and the Ten for Congo team to spend a day in Kenya is an understanding that Kenya is a part of Congo's context.

Let me explain what the team will be doing in Kenya because it's quite exciting on its own. They're taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from and speak into efforts to end and prevent inter-ethnic violence  in Kenya, especially around elections. The team will be participating in a World Relief-organized peace summit with about 150 Kenyans -- among them church leaders, business owners, and a group of young adult leaders. The event offers a chance to stand for peace -- not only peace in a single country, but peace in the entire region.

Following Kenya’s last presidential elections held in December of 2007, the two main political parties heavily contested the results of the poll. The disagreement over the election's outcome, among other complex factors, contributed to an outbreak of violence across Kenya, primarily affecting the poorest parts of Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Kisumu, and other areas of the Rift Valley and Nyanza Provinces. Inter-ethnic violence killed more than 1,200 people and displaced about 600,000. The next presidential election will take place in early 2013, and there is much concern that there will be more inter-ethnic violence; in fact, since independence from Britain in 1963, there has never been a peaceful transition of power in this country.

The Ten for Congo team recognizes there are several reasons to participate in the Peace Summit tomorrow. For one thing, as a part of the body of Christ, it is incumbent upon us to stand together for the sake of peace. World Relief's Director of Spiritual Formation, John Gichinga, who is Kenyan and resides in Kenya, says, "Tragically, unless the church learns new skills, based on God’s word, the cycle of violence may remain with us." It is the WHOLE church that needs to learn new skills. The Kenyan church, the Congolese church, the North American church. All of us.

Not only is it the right thing to do for the church to stand together as one body. It's also a good strategy for supporting Congo. How? In a nutshell, what happens in Kenya affects the entire region. If we want peace in Congo, peace in Kenya is critical. A report from the World Policy Institute explains that Kenya is home to numerous refugees, is a regional hub for the United Nations, and is an important economic actor in East Africa. If it heads toward war and disintegration, it will upset the entire region's efforts to find stability and peace. Continued violent conflict in Kenya will likely lead to accelerated capital flight, poverty, illegal arms trafficking, and more.

So it’s complicated. There are no quick fixes. But I am reminded of a few verses in Lamentations that offer hope:

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  (Lamentations 3:21-23, NIV translation)

We are not consumed by the complexities and the heartaches of war-torn countries! We stand on Christ the Rock. We are called by (and we call on!) the Christ who teaches a transformational and revolutionary way of life in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”(Matthew 5:9, NIV translation).

For all of these reasons, Lynne and the whole team are “stopping by” Congo’s neighbor Kenya. May they (and all of us who join the team in spirit) remember and honor the Prince of Peace on this and all parts of the journey.

Allison Schroeder is World Relief’s Church Partnership Director based in Baltimore, Maryland.

Lynne Hybels in Congo with World Relief

By Allison Schroeder In just a matter of days, World Relief in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will welcome a team of women led by Lynne Hybels. Lynne has been an advocate for the Congo since she traveled there with us in 2010. This time, there will be six women joining Lynne on the trip; three others are traveling in spirit, adding their voices to the journey.  I am honored to be one of the three -- you can read more about the "Ten for Congo" team at Lynne's blog: Here's an excerpt to give you a taste:

Together, we are calling ourselves Ten for Congo. Our goal is to raise awareness about the DRC. Most Americans are like I was just a few years ago, totally clueless about what’s happening day after day after day in Congo.  We women of Ten for Congo want to change that.  We want to provide a voice for the voiceless people of the Congo.  Actually, we want to shout for Congo!  We want to be loudspeakers for Congo!  We want to bellow for Congo!

Will you join us?

With your help, our ten voices can become 10 x 10 voices, or 10 x 10 x 10 voices, or 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 voices.

Imagine 10,000 voices bellowing on behalf of Congo! 

A pretty awesome vision! I’ve travelled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo several times in my work with World Relief. Each time I’ve been undone, outraged by the violence and poverty, the cruelty of the circumstances. But I’ve also been inspired by beauty and humbled and encouraged by the perseverance of local churches that are empowered to respond. I've been awed by the simple clarity of Christ’s presence around me as churches come together to build peace and care for those who have been ravaged by war. Each experience has changed me, and I have no doubt that the women who are traveling there next week will be changed as well.

Our prayer, though, is that this trip will do more than change a few women. Our prayer is that it will change thousands of women -- in the U.S. and in Congo. May all those who read about this team's experiences be outraged, inspired, humbled, and moved to speak up -- loudly! -- on behalf of the most vulnerable.

Follow Lynne's blog or go to to find out more about how you can add your voice to the Ten for Congo team.

Allison Schroeder is World Relief's Church Partnership Director based in Baltimore, Maryland.

Quotes from The Justice Conference 2012

By Isaac Barnes, Marketing and Communications Manager at World Relief It’s been two weeks since the Justice Conference, and I am still processing the many moments of clarity and insight that I experience along with 4,000 other people.

The breadth and depth of the speakers and facilitators brought a profound life and expression to the word “justice” that I have never experienced before. In addition to my own individual experience, it encouraged me to share those two days of learning with so many other Christians also captured by Christ’s heart for justice in our broken world.

I was encouraged and challenged by what was said, but also convicted that justice – like love – is to be lived out in my relationship with God and those around me. As we have all returned to our neighborhoods and ministries, I hope to hear your great stories of live-out justice next year in Philadelphia at the Justice Conference 2013!

Here are some quotes and pictures* from this past Justice Conference in Portland, Ore:

Spoken at the Justice Conference 2012:


“Jesus' natural companionship is with those folks [the poor].” – Walter Brueggemann


“I went to Africa. And suddenly, it wasn't poor people anymore. It was Kenneth, and Rose, and Rachel.” – Francis Chan


“Women are the greatest untapped resource in the world.” – Lynne Hybels


“Don't be afraid to lament.” – Stephan Bauman


“It doesn't matter who you are. Everyone has something to offer the movement of justice” – Shane Claiborne


“If we're going to address trafficking in our country we have to address poverty, racism & gender based violence.” – Rachel Lloyd


“Justice goes across racial and economic barriers - like the good Samaritan.” – John M. Perkins


“That you would no longer see us as the mission field, but as co-equal participants in life.” – Richard Twiss


“When you're no longer asking 'What's mine?' you start asking 'What's true, what's right, what's ours?’” – Rick McKinley

Shared on Social Media at the Justice Conference 2012:

  • Bread for the World: “@worldrelief Thanks 4 your work, @kenwytsma, @antiochbend & all. Our hearts full of hope. Reg4 2013 @thejusticeconf”
  • Katie Høiland: “Appreciating @stephanjbauman : theologian, development practitioner, poet & @WorldRelief pres. Thx for charge to hold long line of justice.”
  • Kyle Anderson: “#love is an irreplaceable thread in Justice @kjwytsma inspiring & powerful start to @thejusticeconf thank you! #justice2012 @WorldRelief”
  • Restored: “Wish we were @thejusticeconf #justice2012 but so glad…@WorldRelief are there :) Looking forward to the online action later”
  • Urbana Missions: “Our team is so excited for @thejusticeconf tomorrow. Thanks to friends @worldrelief for hosting the event!”
  • Fred Smith: “I think the relationship between Shane Claiborne and John Perkins is a good example of two generations with great respect for each other. You are doing such good work.”
  • Merrilee Parsons Lewis: “Amazing experience!”
  • Shandra Johnson: “Hope to go again next year.”
  • Debi Luna Marshall: “I won't let anything keep me from going next year! Can't wait!”
  • Sandra Boedecker: “Bravo Stephan Bauman, Walter Brueggemann, Don Golden, Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang!”

*Pictures by The Justice Conference and Isaac Barnes.