Sunday, March 21, 2010

Evidence of the Transformational Power of Peace: A Bishop Who Stood in the Way

Last night, the Tanks to Tractors Christian peace group met for the third time. Tim and Alice Colegrove were wonderful enough to allow our motley crew to converge on their beautiful home. THANK YOU TIM AND ALICE!!!

For the first time in our extremely brief history, we implemented a very important part of our reason for existence: Prayer. We all agreed that prayer must play a central role in how and why we gather. In particular, I was moved by Libby's prayer for the group that we be protected from self-righteousness and continue to 'walk humbly with our God.' This is certainly a real danger for Christians who hold the Peace position. We can easily give way to judgement of others who do not share our convictions. I am thankful that our group is already cognizant of this potential source of sin and is taking preemptive steps of resistance.

We also viewed a documentary film entitled "Prince of Peace, God of War" (which can be downloaded for free) by director John Campea. The film is made up mostly of short clips from interviews the director conducted with Christian scholars, that unfortunately did not represent the diverse Body of Christ, but hold to either the Peace position or Just War theory. Among the scholars interviewed was Dr. Tony Campolo. In his interview, he recounts a moving story of the power of peace. He tells of an Orthodox priest (Metropolitan Kirill) in Bulgaria during WWII who so identified with the Jews Nazi soldiers were rounding up to be transported to concentration camps, that he joined them in their confinement and proclaimed the words of Ruth, "Wherever you go, I will go. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God." When the SS saw that this demonstration was attracting a crowd too formidable to fend off, they abandoned the mission and none of the Jews in that Bulgarian town were killed.

I was so moved by this story, I wanted to seek out confirmation of its historicity. A few quick web searches returned overwhelming support. It seems this small town in Bulgarian was not alone. The Orthodox church in Bulgaria seems to have unanimously opposed cooperation with the Nazis and refused to hand over Bulgarians that happened to be Jewish. It also appears the Jewish community remembers this event well and has honored Bishop Kirill for it. I found an account of this story that is nearly identical to the one Campolo tells on the website of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship.

A detail they include that Campolo omits is even additionally inspirational. It is said in multiple locations I found, that Bishop Kirill and his followers threatened to lay down on the train tracks should the Nazi attempt to transport their Jewish neighbors out of the town.

This is truly the Christian witness that we are called to be.

Grace and peace

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