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Five Images in the Quest for New Life

July 22, 2010

A secret desire of mine:  “wanna be” photographer.  Over recent years I’ve taken a few photos that speak powerfully to me about pain and hope in the quest for peace.  Here are five  favorites.

Pattaya, Thailand, 2004

During the 2004 Lausane Forum in Thailand, fifty Christian leaders from 25 countries came as strangers and left as companions in a covenant around “reconciliation as the mission of God.” Our presentation to the larger Forum was a foot washing between divided groups–not a performance, but a sacramental act which we prepared spiritually for. The Forum rose to their feet in tears, applause, and spoken prayers. For me this interruption came as a sign of God’s desires: a 21st century church on her knees, washing feet across the world’s divides. From left to right: two Africans; three pastors–Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox; Palestinian and Israeli; Asian, black, and white; male and female. It’s the one photo I’m not in as I was part of the foot washing (fourth from right).

Coventry Cathedral, England, 2005

After Coventry Cathedral was bombed during World War II, someone entered the sanctuary and wrote the words “Father Forgive” on the altar. This small act inspired an international reconciliation ministry. I took this when our leadership team from the Lausanne Thailand journey met here in 2005 to envision common mission together.

Nyange, Rwanda, 2005

Graves in Nyange, Rwanda marking the1994  site where bulldozers crushed a church with more a thousand people inside.  The church’s priest, with others, ordered the killings.  I took the photo during a 2005 Duke pilgrimage of pain and hope.

Ugandan church, 2005

Another pilgrimage photo.  During a church service in Uganda, I noticed the mural on the back wall of the prodigal son story.  That same year Duke Divinity School unveiled the sculpture “Reconciliation” based on the same story.  It struck me that these Africans and we Americans were distinct cultures who shared a common and bigger story, pointing to the call to share life within “God’s new we.”

Pattaya, Thailand, 2004

One of my favorite moments from the 2004 Thailand experience was seeing these four new friends worshiping together:  Grace Morillo of Columbia, once captured by guerillas; James Odong, once held hostage by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda; Bishara Awad, who carries the scars of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict; and David Porter of Northern Ireland, who told of sacrifices in bridging the Catholic/Protestant divide.  This moment powerfully brought home that pain and hope are always held together in the quest for peace.

About the Author: Chris Rice is co-director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School.  He is author of Reconciling All Things, Grace Matters, and More Than Equals. He writes regularly at the blog Reconcilers.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Kay Rader permalink
    July 29, 2010 6:08 pm

    All but two of these photos bring back vivid memories to Paul and me of our own incredible experiences in these places – Pattaya for Paul, Rwanda for me; Uganda and Thailand for both of us. I was in Rwanda two months following the genocide and spoke in the Union Church in Kigali alongside two pastors who had lost their entire families. Reconciliation through Christ is our only hope.

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