My ministry engagement has always been shaped by what breaks my heart.  By the stories that bring spontaneous tears to my eyes. By the abuses that make me unquenchably angry on behalf of victims. By the cruel realities that make me scream, “Someone should do something about that!”  Tears of grief, righteous anger, or wishing somebody would do something usually indicate that I need to do something—pray more fervently, donate money, or get personally involved. 

One thing I’ve learned is that women in war zones are the most vulnerable women in the world. Whenever there is violent conflict, poverty deepens, education becomes unattainable, gender-based violence and human trafficking increase dramatically, diseases flourish, and the emotional traumas of loss, grief and oppression become overwhelming.  Fortunately, there are amazing organizations working on the grass-roots level to bring hope to these women through personal empowerment and social change.  

Another obvious result of war is the growing refugee crisis. I’m so grateful for my partners who are caring for displaced people, both internationally and in the US.  

Seeing the impact of violent conflict has compelled me to learn from peacemakers, most directly from heroic Israeli and Palestinian women—Christians, Muslims and Jews—who refuse to let voices of hatred and fear control their lives and determine the future of their children.  I believe the principles practiced by peacemakers like these could diffuse much of the hostility in our own country and help divided Americans build necessary bridges of understanding and friendship. 

If you’re in need of new heroes, feel free to borrow some of mine!