Friday, June 01, 2007

    How Much More?

    Several years ago I was accompanying a group of youth on an inner-city mission experience in Washington, DC (hosted by the Center for Student Missions). While there we had a chance to do some sight-seeing and stop at the Viet Nam War Memorial. 

    You might think it's just a long wall with a bunch of names on it. But standing there, realizing that those names all represented somebody's loved one killed violently, it's hard not to be emotional. I was particularly moved when I considered that most of the young men who died in that war were about the same age as the boys who were then with me on the mission trip. "Were we at war today," I remember thinking, "None of these boys would likely be with us on this trip. And some of them might be dead."

    As a Christian, my thoughts on war are anything but vague. War may at times be necessary, but it is always sinful. The necessity of wars only speaks to the mess we humans have made of this world. I now have a nephew and several former youth group members who are actively involved in the conflict in Iraq and every day I wonder "How much more? When will we end our desire for violence as a way to solve problems? When we will stop sending our young children off to fight and die? How can we, those who devote our ministry to caring for our youth and showing them Jesus' way of peace, love, and reconciliation, remain silent on this issue?"


    Jacob said...

    This is a good question. As a youth minister, I always feel like I walk a thin line. On the one hand, I want to share my beliefs with the youth and how I approach the military, and, more specifically, the war in Iraq--I am a pacifist and believe violence is never the answer. On the other hand, I want to respect their beliefs, the beliefs of their parents, and the beliefs of the congregation (some are pacifists, some are big supporters of the military, and many have no idea where they stand). I think we are called to be prophetic, to preach what we believe the gospel calls us to preach, while, at the same time, entering into dialogue with others and assuming a willingness to have open minds. Each year I have some graduates join the military, some join one of the academies, and some protest the war. The positive out of all of this is that for each of these situations, the youth are comfortable articulating their decisions and sharing their beliefs.