Peacebuilders Camp staff arrived at Koinonia yesterday afternoon, and we are hard at work preparing for the first session to begin on Monday. The farm is as welcoming and peaceful as ever, and it’s easy here to feel isolated, or at least buffered, from all that’s going on beyond the pecan orchard to the north and the blueberry fields to the east. But of course the news from outside doesn’t really have any trouble reaching us. Friends incessantly text Mario asking if he’s OK.
Facebook feeds us endless reactions to the tragedies in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, Dallas, and in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. And at lunch, a member of the Koinonia community shares her pain and dismay over two shootings in the last two days in her hometown of Bristol, TN. We’re all shaking our heads, looking at each other for answers, wondering what is our role, our witness, our responsibility.
With effort, we pull ourselves away from these conversations and contemplations and get to work. We gather to review what we know about the first 20 campers we will be meeting on Monday. We read each name, we learn a bit about their lives, we hear their responses to questions on the registration forms. In the process, these young people start to become more than just names on a spreadsheet for us. We are silenced by the passion of their words and we are humbled that these amazing hearts and minds will be entrusted to us for a week.
“I wish there was no such thing as racism, violence, and hunger.”
“I had to be courageous when I immigrated to the United States.”
“I would stop people from dying.”
“People who work hard should have a chance not to be poor.”
“(In school) we are learning about aboriginals and the stolen generations which is really starting to define for me Peace and Justice.”
“I am kind and a good friend.”
“(No change) will happen unless someone does something about it. I would like to be that person.”
For at least the next three weeks, our staff will not need to be asking what we can do to make the world a more peaceful and just place. We do not need to wonder how to best respond to the news that troubles us so deeply. Our role is clear. We will be shaping the future, molding passions into actions, encouraging eager young people to harness their talents to change their communities and their world. Fortunately, our staff is well equipped for the task. Our counselors come to us full of passion and purpose themselves. They are committed to building a world that offers opportunity to immigrants, respect to those with disabilities, equality to people of all races, solutions to communities stuck in cycles of violence, education to the disenfranchised, and genuine understanding between groups in conflict. We could not be more excited to shepherd the next generation into this meaningful work. We covet your support as the next three exciting weeks unfold.