Monica Haas, Alpha
I am 38 and a new Mennonite Christian in the beginning of my peace journey. I canâ€™t share big sophisticated words or any biblical theology with you but I can share what my heart is singing. When God puts people in my life to help motivate me on my journey, I am overjoyed and grateful.
I grew up within Roman Catholicism. After my confirmation, I didnâ€™t attend church regularly or have a relationship with God. My family and community always agreed that war is necessary to protect our freedom. Growing up I thought this didnâ€™t seem right, yet I never heard otherwise. I dismissed the thought and went on with my life figuring I was fine as long as I didnâ€™t have to kill anyone or actually see anyone being killed. It became normal not to question it.
You can imagine my shock at age 36 when the Lord of Peace revealed to me that I am the Beloved Daughter of God. I was led to a nurturing, healing Mennonite church, a huge leap for me considering I had never heard of a Mennonite before. Ever since I have been hungry for Jesusâ€™ teachings and studying Anabaptist ways.
Recently, I attended the annual Peace Retreat at Spruce Lake to hear Father John Dear speak about active nonviolence. It was music to me. These are the clear messages that I heard as essential for peacemaking: The Sermon on the Mount should not be only read and studied but taken literally and actively. We should engage in intimate prayer with God, form community, and become fearless. We should not be afraid to speak in a passionate manner, tell we are followers of Jesus, and that all acts of violence on any of Godâ€™s children is wrong and is not Jesusâ€™ way.
As brothers and sisters weâ€™re all in this together. We might be from different religions, ethnic backgrounds, or at different places on the peace path, but we are in this world together. We are all needed to help with the everyday struggles against violence, even when it is unpopular. Simple pacifism is not good enough anymore. We need to unite for Godâ€™s same purposes.
Father John talked about making time to listen to what God wants us to do and simplifying our lives so that we are not distracted. Between our jobs and accumulating possessions weâ€™re so busy that we get off the path of peace. Gandhi used to meditate an hour in the morning and at night. I have been practicing giving my fears to God so that I am able to hear what God asks of me.
One of our small group sessions raised this question: Where are you going and how far are you willing to go on your peace journey? I used to have my life all planned out, but those days are over. The day I was baptized at Alpha Mennonite Church, at age 37, was one of my most life changing experiences. That was the day I said, â€œI am yours Lord; do with me as you please.â€ Now I live one day at a time, lovingly embraced by God, and willing to follow the Lord wherever he leads.