Reflection for January 2016 on the theme Be Courageous

November Reflection – Reflections on God as a God of peace

Verna Wright

By Verna Wright

Verna Wright (Jamaica), has served as National President of GB Jamaica, as International Vice President (1993-1997), and Chairperson of the Caribbean & Americas Fellowship of the Girls’ Brigade (2002-2006).

She presently serves as a Member of the National Executive of GB Jamaica, and chairs the Committee for development of Policies& Procedures for GB Jamaica

A former High School science teacher, she presently works as a Consultant and Food Safety trainer for The Bureau of Standards Jamaica.

She is the recipient of The Prime Minister’s Award for Services to Education.

On 24 September, 2018, a day before the start of the General Debate of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit was convened.

The focus of the Summit was on Global Peace in honour of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela.

This Peace Summit offered the opportunity for the world leaders to renew their commitment to global peace, conflict prevention and resolution, peace building, promotion and protection of human rights and long-term development initiatives as called for by the Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres. The Peace Summit also adopted a political declaration, which will reaffirm the values of Nelson Mandela.

These world leaders recognised that, as in the words of once popular American singing group The Chi-lytes,” There will never be any peace, until God is seated at the conference table”.

As members of the Girls’ Brigade family, we know that our God is a God of peace.

In the creation story in Genesis, chapter 1, we are told that God created a perfect world, where everything was in harmony. However, through disobedience, this peace was disturbed. Throughout the years which followed, through the teachings of the prophets God tried to restore this peace.

Zechariah 9: 11 states “He will proclaim peace to all nations”

Finally, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, whose birth was foretold by the prophet Isaiah 6:5 that he would come as “The Prince of Peace”. At Jesus’ birth, the angels heralded his coming with the announcement of “Peace on earth and goodwill to all men”.

Jesus in his teachings, brought a message of peace. For example in the Beatitudes he says: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matt 5:9)

Through Christ, God is reflected as a God of peace

Corinthians 14: 33 reminds us …”For God is not a God of disorder but of peace”

As we seek to follow in the footsteps of Christ, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we must seek after peace.

Further, we know, that Peace is a Fruit of the spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22).

How can we achieve this peace? We must put our trust in the God of Peace.

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

However, although we desire peace, there will be no real peace until there is equality and justice for all.

But what is perfect peace? Can we define it? Yes, it is a condition of freedom from disturbance within the soul; it is perfect harmony reigning within. To be filled with perfect peace is to be spiritually healthy and free from all discord within the soul. There can be no room for jealousy, envy, discontent, uncontrolled temper, selfishness, pride or intolerance in the soul which is filled with peace, for all these things are disturbing factors in the heart. They are discordant notes. We must make every effort to conquer these feelings, and replace them with love for each other and, by our example show our girls a better way.

The peace which God offers, and which by His grace, we may experience, is very practical. God calls the peace which he gives, “perfect peace”. He demonstrates this peace through his son Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Love of Christ will enable us to demonstrate the Peace of God.

God’s peace is perfect. It is perfect in quality- perfect in the kind of peace that it is.

It is perfect in Quantity, the supply of it is sufficient, and it is constantly available to us.

How does this perfect peace come to us?

By the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit fills and floods our lives, so He produces this wonderful fruit within us.

  • By His Word.  Psalm 119:165 tells us that “things and people can so often disturb us, or even cause us to stumble, but there is a promise of perfect peace to those people who love and meditate in and obey the word of God.”
  • By our belief in and obedience to God’s Son. In Leviticus 26:3-6, God guarantees to us that if we will walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, He will keep our hearts in perfect peace; if we will do our part, then God will surely do His part.
  • By constant praise and prayer.

Who is it that God will keep in perfect peace? It is those who put their total trust in Him.

Peace for us as members of the Girls’ Brigade family, is not merely absence of conflict; if we want to build lasting peace, our thoughts of peace must be translated into positive action as we demonstrate this in our interaction with our girls and with each other.

We cannot close our eyes or ears to violent actions which make peace seem less and less attainable; whether we live in Africa, Asia, Caribbean & Americas, Europe, or Pacific regions, violence is a daily challenge for many of us.

Conflict prevention and resolution means we must diffuse conflict by replacing it with positive actions which demonstrate that we care, and are determined not only to speak peace, but to show peace daily.

As members of the family of GB International, we are delighted, and share the joy that Girls’ Brigade President’s Committee, was able to announce the following initiatives recently:

  • That after a 15 month application process, Girls’ Brigade International has been accredited with special consultative NGO status by the United Nations. This is an integral part of Girls’ Brigade International’s future advocacy strategy moving forward and an achievement to celebrate on our 125th birthday year
  • On International Day of the Girl (11 October 2018), Girls’ Brigade International launched a new free resource for local Girls’ Brigade leaders called GB’s ‘Raising Hope’ Advocacy Toolkit

The toolkit has two specific aims:

  1. To equip GB leaders (particularly at local level) to be strategic and intentional about advocacy
  2. To empower girls and young women to be at the centre of leading social action initiatives to transform their own communities.

I am confident that these two GB initiatives will go a far way in encouraging and facilitating peace in the lives of our GB families and persons with whom they interact.

For many years Dr. Elizabeth Ward, a consultant epidemiologist at the University of the West Indies,    Mona Campus, Jamaica and Chair of the Board of Violence Prevention Alliance in Jamaica, took the time and worked with  girls  in one of our inner city Girls’ Brigade companies, Pretoria Road United, to demonstrate “another way of life”. They made placards, held peace marches and conducted talks and other practical sessions to show an alternative lifestyle of peace. These girls live in communities where violence is commonplace.

We know that many GB companies around the world take time to demonstrate actions of peace to our girls.

We must embrace every opportunity to show our girls a peaceful way to resolve their conflicts whether at home, school, or in the workplace.

We must show them by our actions that we serve a God of peace.

As members of the Girls’ Brigade, when we engage our girls in activities teaching useful skills which can help them to earn a living and become independent, when we teach Christian values and attitudes through Godly counselling, when we teach them self discipline through drill and when we help them to interpret God’s word and apply it to themselves through bible drama, poetry or song or just by helping them to solve problems on a one-to one basis, we are demonstrating God’s peace.

When we set up homework centres to help them to be successful in their school exams  and take their place in their community and in the world, when we engage in outreach activities in our communities with them, we are showing them that the God we serve is a God of peace, an active peace.

As we make every effort to be fruitful and overflowing in our activities, may we demonstrate loving, caring, practical actions that will show others that we serve a God of Peace, who commands us to live out this peace in a troubled world.

John 14:27 says “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.”

Be not fearful, but go forth and share the gospel of peace in all you do.

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