Saturday, March 11, 2017

Peace: a shared vision for humanity

Dear friends,

Greetings!  A lot has been happening in the Holy Land since my last post regarding my work with Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB) that I am eager to share with you.  Highlights include: 

  • I am leading the implementation of three Leadership and Peace-building programs in Jerusalem high schools. The programs are run for the length of the school's spring semester.
  • JPB just completed its first ever Youth Leadership Conference in Haifa with 20 Arab and Jewish teens from across Israel/Palestine.  I helped three teams of JPB alumni design, organize and lead workshops on dialogue facilitation skills, developing critical self-awareness, and examining the forces of inclusion and exclusion in our societies
  • JPB is preparing for its biggest summer of youth leadership programs in its history with three programs scheduled to commence: Service-Learning for 14-15 year olds, Interfaith Citizenship for 16-17 year olds, and Leadership for 17-18 year olds.  Over 70 teens in total are expected to participate.
These personal and organizational accomplishments are huge and I am very grateful for your prayers and continued support for this pioneering ministry that I am undertaking.  I feel blessed to have the opportunity to contribute to peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land and know that my work and service here will carry on to many other important and exciting endeavors in the years to come.  One big learning that I cherish is the the fact that while peace-building among societies divided by years and centuries of violent conflict and division is crucial, I realize that peace-building is not limited to these contexts.

Jerusalem Peacebuilders - Debate for Peace participants at the two-day
Youth Leadership Conference in Haifa
Peace-building is of universal value and necessity in the world, now more than ever.  It doesn't matter where you are or who you are, we are all called by God to be peacemakers and bridge-builders in this life.  Peace can be distant or present, it can also sometimes be fleeting, but it is our eternal call to always work to promote, create, and sustain peace in our communities, nations, and across God's Holy creation.  Jesus Christ's ministry included just that, proclaiming peace and healing those who were suffering, not for the select few, not for only his Jewish brothers and sisters, but for all people regardless of their identity.  Peace-building can sometimes seem like it is counter-cultural, going against the status quo, going against perceived loyalties, and going against human interests.  For in fact peacemaking is God's interest, and we must seek to align ourselves with His will.  Thankfully, God gave us the roadmap for how to pursue this sacred path in our own lives through giving us his Son Jesus as an example for all of us to look to, to believe in, to model, and to follow.

At the most recent youth leadership conference in Haifa, held in partnership with Debate for Peace (DfP), I was amazed and impressed by the commitment and desire of the 20 teens who were selected to attend the event to work together, learn from each other, and build lasting friendships across traditional lines of separation like religion, culture, politics, and nationality.  It is these moments of leadership in action that gives me tremendous hope for the future of peace between Israelis and Palestinians and the rest of the world.  It is often said that if we can achieve peace in the Holy Land, then the ripple effects of this result will spread across the world, for nearly half the world's total population either identify as Christian, Muslim, or Jewish.  To God be the Glory forever.

In Christ,
Jack Karn

Teens discuss democracy and pluralism at the Youth Leadership Conference

Teens share their learning during the closing session of the conference

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