By Amy A.
Peace is not what you think it is. Neither, most likely, is our afterschool program. These first couple of weeks of the school year have had me thinking on those facts—on the quiet, holy tenacity that peace is made of, and on what we are really all about at the PEACE Program.
If you browse our website, or if you come to an informational meeting for recruits, or if you stop by a fundraiser where we’re selling yummy food, to hear us talk about the program, you might get the impression that we think PEACE is pretty big deal. You’d think that we are passionate, purpose-driven, and indomitably hopeful, that we believe we’re making a marked difference in the lives of dozens and dozens of kids. As an awesome matter of fact, all of those things are true. Definitely. Without doubt. Absolutely.
On the other hand… there is another hand. The not-so-coordinated one, the one that can’t hold a pencil right, much less draw a beautiful picture. The one that scrapes the bottom of the barrel for a sunny blog post in the midst of the heartbreak that actually finds its way into most days with our kids. The other hand is a war-weary one, because—make no mistake—PEACE is war.
It’s not a war on low academic achievement, poverty, or poor nutrition. It’s not a war against the kids or their families or their culture. As much as I hate bullying, drug abuse, and everything else that is trying to steal my kids’ innocence, I’m not at the PEACE Program solely for the purpose of fighting against any single problem. Frankly, those problems outnumber us, and fighting against them is just bad strategy.
We’re not fighting against something so much as we’re fighting for something. We’re fighting to keep a light burning and a seed growing in a world that isn’t heaven yet–for peace, here on earth. We’re fighting for the quiet moments where we are safe in the shelter of truth and trust, and for the noisy times—equally treasured—where joy is genuine and innocent, not contrived, frantic, or twisted.
Peace is not what you think it is. Peace is a fight–relentless, longsuffering, and aggressive. It’s resolving and contending not to give up on one single moment or one single kid that God has claimed for Himself. Peace is at the heart of Father God. Peacemaking is coming close to Him with other people in your wake.
Somehow, the fact that we are able to do that always surprises me. I looked up last week, saw a dozen girls painting the best pictures they could while letting me sing them songs about the love of Jesus, and I realized something. We’re winning. God is giving us those moments. Not only that, He is giving us those kids. Glory to God! Peace on earth is real.
That is our passion, purpose, and indomitable hope. We don’t need to know all the answers or have everything go according to plan. We just need those little moments where we taste God’s goodness, those gifts that we find whenever we’re actually looking. We’re pressing on, and you’re pressing on with us, not so that we can refine our program to a T, but just so our lives could show some other lives the true meaning of peace, the Person who is Peace.
It doesn’t mean that we are perfect or that we win every moment. I wish that we were and that we did, but in fact God never asked for that. He calls us to be the light of the world, unhidden and undimmed. Light doesn’t really skirmish with darkness; it just… shines. It just is light. Its very nature and presence are the defeat of darkness. All it has to do is be and be there.
That’s what we’re all about at the PEACE Program. It’s the whole of our battle plan. As an astonishing matter of fact, it’s a winning strategy.
“Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge… O LORD, what is man that You care for him, the son of man that You think of him? Part Your heavens, O LORD, and come down…Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the LORD.”
Psalm 144:1-3, 5, 12, 15