Tuesday, June 11, 2013

YWAM Ireland | Faith and Conflict Conference

The conference attendees in front of Stormont in Belfast
At the end of May, 4 of us from Central Europe spent 5 days at a Faith in Conflict Conference in what is otherwise known as Northern Ireland... The conference was held in Rostrevor, which is a village on the border with Ireland, and so the view from the window is actually the Republic of Ireland across the loch.


The conference was about reconciliation and people from all over the world, including the West Bank and Nigeria, where conflict has been around faith, attended. Four of us from Central Europe (pictured below in front of Stormont) attended and it was a great time for us as we examined what it means to have faith in areas of conflict.
Yohanan, Carmelita, Rachel and Belinda


We spent one day going into Belfast together and it really was a special day of meeting different people who are working at reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Jonny Clark, YWAM Ireland leader, was our awesome tour guide: He grew up in Belfast, and also led a YWAM work there for a while, so he was a perfect guide.

Jonny, the tour guide


We started off in Clonard Monastery with a talk by Steve Stockman, a Presbyterian Minister, and Father Martin from the Catholic church, about their relationship and what they have been doing to build bridges between the two communities. We moved onto Christian Fellowship Church listened to politician John Kyle, talking about the challenges facing East Belfast and how the Kingdom message of Hope can impact those most vulnerable in our societies. To end off we heard a presentation about Restorative Justice practices from Alternatives, a local Belfast organisation.

In Clonard Monastry
belfast
John Kyle sharing with us
Besides hearing great stuff from lots of good people, we also got to see some of the areas that are well known for being part of the troubles, the Falls road and the Shankhill Road...

Catholic mural on the Falls road


Protestant mural near the Shankill Road


Belinda in front of a "peace wall" in west Belfast

It wasn't all conference, conference, conference... We did get to experience a little taste of Ireland. And you can't go to Ireland without going to the pub: And we even got to experience traditional Irish music in a little corner pub in Rostrevor:

Live music in the pub!

The last day we from Central Europe met with those interested in YWAM Ireland to see how they could help us move forward in the area of reconciliation. It was a great time of meeting and praying together, seeking the Lord as to what is next. After the time of prayer, we have decided to tentatively plan to hold a similar conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014. Drawing people not just from the country of BiH, but also from across the region and beyond - so watch this space for details!

- Belinda Chaplin, YWAM Bosnia and Herzegovina