Search goes on for missing Christian peace workers - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
December 16, 2005

Search goes on for missing Christian peace workers

-16/12/05

A co-worker of Christian peace worker Jim Loney, captive with colleagues in Iraq, has told CBC News Canada that concerted efforts are continuing to reach the kidnappers of the four men.

And their work, criticized in some quarters, has been rigorously defended by the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, a Palestinian Christian.

ìWeíre thinking that no news is good news, that maybe theyíre trying to figure out what their next move should be,î said Greg Rollins, from Christian Peacemaker Teams.

A previously unknown militant group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness (Truth) Brigades had been threatening to kill them unless the United States and Britain free all Iraqi prisoners by last Saturday.

There been no word from the kidnappers since the second deadline passed on 10 December 2005. The first was two days earlier.

The focus in recent days has been on the Iraqi elections ñ which, while not incident free, have passed off better than many expected. Little news on the hostages is expected until they are over.

Mr Rollins said that CPT and its associates have been trying to reach the hostage-takers through the Christian Peacemaker Teams website.

ìWe feel that these guys are watching our website closely,î he told CBC News. ìWe put up a message asking them to contact us, give us a phone call. History shows us these are the ways things can happen.î

Meanwhile, Rollins says the group continues to work with locals on the ground in Iraq outside the protective Green Zone in Baghdad. But he they are also taking extra precautions about their movements.

ìWeíve changed our moving patterns and weíve stopped going to certain places,î declared Rollins. ìWeíve made various alterations to our security.î

On 17 November 2005, just before he left for Iraq, CPTer Jim Loney sent a note to friends asking for their prayers. He concluded his letter: ìItís a real joy and privilege to be part of this work, this gospel experiment in applied nonviolence, of imagining and making possible a world without war.î

Christian Peacemaker Teams is a programme of Mennonites, Brethren and Quakers (the Historic Peace Churches) founded in Chicago in 1986. The initiative followed a challenge from Ronald J. Sider in a sermon at the Mennonite World Conference assembly in Strasbourg, France, in 1984.

Dr Sider, known in Europe and beyond for his epoch-making book ëRich Christians in an Age of Hungerí, said that people of faith committed to nonviolence should be willing to put themselves in harmís way to make peace, just as people dedicated to military action are ready to face danger.

Some critics have said that CPT is partisan and lacks responsibility. But the group replies that it takes calculated and prepared risks, and sides with those most vulnerable ñ while opposing violence and injustice of all kinds.

Accusations of effective naivete have been made by Canon Andrew White in Baghdad, and former Iranian captive and Anglican envoy Terry Waite.

But in an interview with BBC Radio 4ís Today programme this week, the Bishop of Jerusalem defended Christian Peacemakers Teams, saying that to risk your life for peace was a ìworthy causeî.

When asked if workers like Dr Norman Kember were ìirresponsible to ignore the warnings they receivedî, the Rt Rev Riah Abu El-Assal told listeners that CPT was ìcommittedî. He said they wanted ìto represent the Christian community [from the West] better than [the image often] presented to the Iraqi people...They have taken the right decision to stay and present a different story of the people of Iraqî.

For nearly 20 years, CPT members and reservists have sustained a positive presence among people in conflict situations in many parts of the world. Their motto is ìviolence reduction by getting in the way.î

[A full index of Ekklesia coverage of the Iraq hostage situation and CPT can be found at the foot of this news story: Christian peacemakers demand entry to Guantanamo Bay, 14/12/05. Further updates on Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrowís personal weblog]

Search goes on for missing Christian peace workers

-16/12/05

A co-worker of Christian peace worker Jim Loney, captive with colleagues in Iraq, has told CBC News Canada that concerted efforts are continuing to reach the kidnappers of the four men.

And their work, criticized in some quarters, has been rigorously defended by the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, a Palestinian Christian.

'We're thinking that no news is good news, that maybe they're trying to figure out what their next move should be,' said Greg Rollins, from Christian Peacemaker Teams.

A previously unknown militant group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness (Truth) Brigades had been threatening to kill them unless the United States and Britain free all Iraqi prisoners by last Saturday.

There been no word from the kidnappers since the second deadline passed on 10 December 2005. The first was two days earlier.

The focus in recent days has been on the Iraqi elections - which, while not incident free, have passed off better than many expected. Little news on the hostages is expected until they are over.

Mr Rollins said that CPT and its associates have been trying to reach the hostage-takers through the Christian Peacemaker Teams website.

'We feel that these guys are watching our website closely,' he told CBC News. 'We put up a message asking them to contact us, give us a phone call. History shows us these are the ways things can happen.'

Meanwhile, Rollins says the group continues to work with locals on the ground in Iraq outside the protective Green Zone in Baghdad. But he they are also taking extra precautions about their movements.

'We've changed our moving patterns and we've stopped going to certain places,' declared Rollins. 'We've made various alterations to our security.'

On 17 November 2005, just before he left for Iraq, CPTer Jim Loney sent a note to friends asking for their prayers. He concluded his letter: 'It's a real joy and privilege to be part of this work, this gospel experiment in applied nonviolence, of imagining and making possible a world without war.'

Christian Peacemaker Teams is a programme of Mennonites, Brethren and Quakers (the Historic Peace Churches) founded in Chicago in 1986. The initiative followed a challenge from Ronald J. Sider in a sermon at the Mennonite World Conference assembly in Strasbourg, France, in 1984.

Dr Sider, known in Europe and beyond for his epoch-making book ëRich Christians in an Age of Hunger', said that people of faith committed to nonviolence should be willing to put themselves in harm's way to make peace, just as people dedicated to military action are ready to face danger.

Some critics have said that CPT is partisan and lacks responsibility. But the group replies that it takes calculated and prepared risks, and sides with those most vulnerable - while opposing violence and injustice of all kinds.

Accusations of effective naivete have been made by Canon Andrew White in Baghdad, and former Iranian captive and Anglican envoy Terry Waite.

But in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme this week, the Bishop of Jerusalem defended Christian Peacemakers Teams, saying that to risk your life for peace was a 'worthy cause'.

When asked if workers like Dr Norman Kember were 'irresponsible to ignore the warnings they received', the Rt Rev Riah Abu El-Assal told listeners that CPT was 'committed'. He said they wanted 'to represent the Christian community [from the West] better than [the image often] presented to the Iraqi people...They have taken the right decision to stay and present a different story of the people of Iraq'.

For nearly 20 years, CPT members and reservists have sustained a positive presence among people in conflict situations in many parts of the world. Their motto is 'violence reduction by getting in the way.'

[A full index of Ekklesia coverage of the Iraq hostage situation and CPT can be found at the foot of this news story: Christian peacemakers demand entry to Guantanamo Bay, 14/12/05. Further updates on Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow's personal weblog]

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