September 29- October 5: I was in Pattaya Thailand, as part of the Lausanne Forum for World Evangelization – one of only two Catholics (and one Orthodox) in a meeting of over 1800 Protestant, mostly Evangelical leaders from around the world; a theologian in a world of mostly practioners and activists. Chris Rice, then a student in our M Div program at Duke, was asked to convener Issue Group 22 (on reconciliation), and he invited me to be part of the group, and to contribute from with my gifts as a theologian, as a Catholic and as a scholar whose research and teaching focused on issues of politics and violence in Africa and called on the church to be a new imagination.
In the course of the year, I met a couple of times with the leadership team in Durham(Duke University) and in Rwanda(July 2003), and helped to shape the key concept paper for our Issue Group 22. It was in Thailand however, that we met for the first time all the 54 members of the issue Group – drawn from all over the world, representing various organizations and ministries.
During the course of one week, we prayed together, listened to stories of pain violence from the many places of brokenness in the world; discovered signs of hopes; we studied together, debated and revised a concept paper, “Reconciliation as God’s Mission,” and concluded the meeting with a ritual of foot washing: Hutu and Tutsi washing each other’s feet; male and female; Jew and Palestinian, black, white and Asian; Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical pastors…. In this ritual, we captured the vision of reconciliation: a church on her knees washing feet- in humble service- across the many divides and brokenness in the world. We came out of Thailand with a sense of common mission and shared convictions about the nature and shape of reconciliation as God’s mission and of the church as both the sign and agent of God’s reconciliation.