Dorothy Nickel Friesen is former pastor of Manhattan (Kansas) Mennonite Church and First Mennonite Church, Bluffton, Ohio; former assistant dean at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, […]
In 2015, Mennonite Church USA adopted the “Faithful Witness Amid Endless War” resolution. It described the United States’ engagement in “boundless and endless war.” Ever since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, our nation has waged perpetual war in pursuit of security from perceived threats of terrorism. Over the past 16 years, the targets of war have changed, the methods have grown more sophisticated, different politicians have controlled the levers of power — but we feel as insecure as ever.
In recent days, the nation of North Korea has become an urgent threat. Not connected to the terrorism that originally animated our campaign of endless war, North Korea is deemed an enemy due to its development of nuclear weapons. Some believe that the U.S. could “take out” North Korea’s nuclear capability in relatively quick and easy fashion, but surveying the wreckage from our military interventions over the past decade and a half shows that one can’t take such predictions seriously. Employing our military force in yet another part of the globe — where national allegiances and alliances are dense and complex, and where nuclear weapons could be deployed — would be disastrous for the people of North and South Korea, our country and the world.
As the “Faithful Witness” resolution points out, our nation has become acclimated to this “new normal” of endless war. Our country operates within a paradigm that violence can produce peace. As one military campaign slides into the next, debate and discussion about the morality of war doesn’t take place as broadly and vigorously as it should.
We believe that our calling to be “faithful witnesses” to Jesus leads to a different way of living and being, especially in this era of endless war. We must not accept as inevitable the immorality of war and insanity of violence. Rather, we proclaim the whole gospel of Jesus — His reconciling presence in our lives, relationships and communities and His passion for peace and justice using the means of non-violence.
We invite you to engage in this witness with your local church and as part of our larger denominational body. In the spirit of the “Faithful Witness” resolution, here are ways that witness might take shape:
Contact your congressional representative and voice your concerns about the state of Endless War. Especially voice your concern over the specter of military engagement with North Korea. Use these helpful tips from Mennonite Central Committee to shape your interactions with your representative.
Pray for peacemakers. Preventing war and violence by governments is an important aspect of peacemaking, but durable, sustained peace grows where there is reconciliation between people. While news headlines inform us about the tension between North and South Korea, there are peacemakers from both nations working to break down the dividing wall of hostility that exists. Pray these efforts take hold and the nations and people of North and South Korea can experience God’s shalom.
Renew emphasis in your church on the non-violent way of Jesus. In small groups, in worship, in educational settings, examine the ways war and violence have become embedded in our society and explore non-violent alternatives. Seek the “renewal of our minds in Christ” (Romans 12:2).
Finally, even in the ugly conditions of the current climate, we proclaim our hope that even endless war will eventually cease. We know that the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, is found in Jesus. We weep for those touched by war, we oppose war’s existence, and we give gratitude that it shall not, cannot, persist indefinitely in the presence of the Prince of Peace.
Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA
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