Justice and Peacemaking Discipleship School explores “Doing Life Together”

photo (12)From April 28 to May 27th, participants gathered at Gardena Presbyterian Church twice a week for five weeks to participate in Journey Towards Reconciliation, an intensive justice and peacemaking discipleship school.  We gathered centered on the theme of “Doing Life Together” and explored various topics with a peacemaking and justice lens.

Dr. Suh emphasizes the importance of reading the Bible with a restorative justice lens.

Dr. Suh emphasizes the importance of reading the Bible with a restorative justice lens. (photo by Daniel Lee)

We began the first session with worship acknowledging that we are followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  Our goal is to honor his name through our lives here on earth. The second session was led by Dr. Kyunglan Suh of Fuller Theological Seminary who clearly laid the biblical foundation for restorative justice.  She highlighted the importance of relating to one another with the goal of restoring the victim, and that this is especially important as we do mission work overseas.

On May 5th, Hokwan Seon, who is a missionary in Thailand, expanded on the concept of conflict transformation.  He emphasized the importance of normalizing conflict in communities or in churches, and taking these opportunities to engage in a third way.  Many of the participants enjoyed the interactive exercises through the workshop which emphasized teambuilding and collaboration.

Soekwan Seon led conflict transformation exercises

Pastor Soekwan Seon (second from the right) led lively conflict transformation exercises (photo taken by Daniel Lee)

On May 6th, Pastor Sunghwan Kim, the lead pastor of Gardena Presbyterian Church, began the seminar entitled “Handmade Life” emphasizing the incarnate Jesus who touched, made, and held people and things around him.  Jesus’ spirituality was not an abstract meditation, but one that engaged his surrounding and created and recreated throughout his ministry.   He invited the participants to practice the spirituality of incarnate living.

Pastor Kim displays the many hammers he made during "Handmade Life" seminar.

Pastor Kim displays the many hammers he made during “Handmade Life” seminar. (photo taken by Daniel Lee)

On May 10th, we had the privilege to spend the whole Saturday to hear Steve and Joy Yoon share their powerful testimony of living and thriving in Northeast Asia.  They shared honestly about the challenges of living in North Korea, but also the incredible grace of God they have witnessed in the land.  Steve beautifully shared,  “We engage spiritual warfare in this way: we fight the spirit of idolatry with worship acknowledging His lordship; we fight the spirit of pride with the practice of humility; we fight the spirit of unforgiveness with the spirit of forgiveness; we fight the spirit of division with the spirit of unity.”

Joy read a powerful reconciliation letter she wrote to the NK government

Joy read a powerful reconciliation letter she wrote to the NK government (photo by Daniel Lee)

On May 19-20, Jill Shook, the author of Making Housing Happen,  introduced the concept of housing justice.  If we really believed that God owned the land, how would that change the way we view our use of land? Shook challenged us to look at the theology of housing, land, ownership, and stewardship as the foundation to engage in creating affordable housing in local communities. Her workshop dared us to dream what it would look like for us to live together in creative and dynamic ways.

Jill Shook explains the biblical foundation of housing justice

Jill Shook explains the biblical foundation of housing justice (photo by Daniel Lee)

The final week of JTR was led by the dynamic duo, Ron and Roxanne Claassen from Center for Conflict and Peacemaking Studies at Fresno Pacific University.  How can you discipline so that it can restore?  What are the practical steps to take when conflict escalates in a classroom setting?  In the home?  These questions were addressed and we learned to create a respect agreement to promote a culture that is constructive rather than destructive.

The last group shot of JTR at Gardena Presbyterian Church with Ron and Roxanne Claassen

The last group shot of JTR at Gardena Presbyterian Church with Ron and Roxanne Claassen (photo by Daniel Lee)

The five-full weeks again challenged and transformed the lives of those who attended regularly.  19 participants who attended at least 7 out of 9 sessions were given a certificate of completion, and we celebrated the completion of another justice and peacemaking discipleship school.  We especially recognized Gardena Presbyterian Church who graciously and lavishly welcomed and hosted us for the five weeks with delectable meals and snacks.  Thank you again!