August 4th, 2016

IRAQI Kurdistan: No place to hide

"When the bombing starts, where do you hide?" I asked Sultan.

 "There is no place.  Behind rocks, wherever we can. We all just run in every direction. Everyone has to find their own place.  Even the children."

 The last shelling started on 23 June at 10:00 a.m. and did not stop until after noon.  The farmer said over 160 bombs fell on the small area in those two hours.  After it was over, many animals had been killed and three children were injured.

In the Choman District of Iraqi Kurdistan high in the mountains near the Iranian border lies the Allana Gully CPT visited after hearing reports of a recent cross border shelling from Iran. The drive through the mountains to this remote area was slow. The road is an unpaved rocky path carved into the side of steep mountain ledges. In many places it is so narrow that the wheels of our vehicle came dangerously close to sliding off the edge.

 "When the bombings start, some families try to flee in their vehicles.  You have seen the road; it is very dangerous." Sultan pointed to the rugged path; it's the only road that leads down.

Sultan showing his daughter's injury. Photo by: Julie Brown

Sultan was one of the first people we met.  As soon as Sultan heard we had come to talk about the shelling from Iran, he summoned his daughter, a young girl with long blond hair.  He reached down and gingerly took her arm and lifted it up for us to see.  He explained that she had been hit by shrapnel.  Metal had entered her palm and lodged in her wrist.  She had to have surgery to remove the shrapnel, which a wound that went all the way through.  As I took pictures of her injuries I could see the trauma on her face.   

August 3rd

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 3, 2016 Palestine

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 3, 2016  Palestine

Pray for the people of Susya who are once again facing the imminent expulsion from their village by the Israeli authorities.  Pray also that God will inspire volunteers to join Christian Peacemaker Teams – Palestine, which is extremely understaffed.

*Epixel for Peacemakers  August 7, 2016 
Photo: International Solidarity Movement
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil,
 learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:16-17
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text  from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common 
Lectionary readings.

August 2nd


“Hug me” read the embroidered words on the teddy bear’s cap. 

Walking along the harbor of Mytilini, working your way past the shops and cafes found along the water’s edge, you can look out and see Turkey’s coast rising from the Aegean, seemingly only a stone’s throw away. If you turn your back on the amazing scenery and head into town and up the hill, you will find yourself passing from the commercial downtown to the mansions and town houses of residential Mytilini. 

Continuing on, winding your way through and climbing the hill, you leave that behind as well. That wasn’t where you would find the teddy with “Hug me” written on its cap anyway. You find yourself surrounded by large apartment buildings, somewhat rundown high rises, and simple shops owned by people looking to scrounge a living off of serving the families that inhabit these communities. 

Turning around at the top and looking back towards Turkey, you can see how incredibly close the two countries truly are. The journey can be made in a couple of hours in as simple a boat as a little rubber dingy. But the view is not the purpose of the climb up the hill, and you feel yourself getting nearer, hearing the Teddy’s call: “Hug me.”

Returning to your quest, you enter the cemetery. In German, the word is “Friedhof,” literally translating to “place of peace.” Once you talk your way past the grayard keeper, it truly is a peaceful location. Trees grant shade as you walk along the rows of pristine marble monoliths for the dead. As you progress, the trees grow fewer and further apart. The graves here are not so ornate. Much like in the town, you continue forward and find yourself among dilapidated graves bearing the wind-worn names of the dead. If you look carefully, you can see it: a seemingly discarded teddy bear, smudged and dirty, lying on a little mound of earth, simply asking to be hugged. 

Only when you leave the last of the marble graves behind can you see them: thirty or forty mounds, all pointing east, pointing to Mecca. These graves never bore names—simply genders, presumed ages, and dates the bodies washed ashore.  Teddy, blown from his seat upon one of the smaller mounds by the wind, is there too, right next to a stuffed caterpillar with a paradoxical smile frozen on its face.  â€śHug me” not yet visible, you gather them up, placing them back nearer to their rightful owner, a young child who will never hug or be hugged again.

August 1st

COLOMBIA PRAYER REQUEST: Judge orders Alvaro Garcia's hearing for Monday 1 August 2016

The judge has scheduled a hearing for Alvaro Garcia's case on Monday August 1. Pray that the judge release Alvaro on house arrest while the investigation continues. Pray that there be justice and transparency in the courtroom and pray for wisdom as the lawyers  begin to build their defence to prove Alvaro's innocence.

Sign our petition to free Alvaro and stop the criminalization of Colombian campesino leaders and human rights defenders:

‪#LibertadParaAlvaro‬ â€Ş#Guayabo4‬ â€Ş#humanrightsdefender‬

July 29th

COLOMBIA: Join our CPT delegation in September!

Street art in Bogotá depicting the struggles of agricultural communities

CPT welcomes you to Colombia this September to experience a monumental era for Colombia as the government and the largest guerrilla group sign of a peace agreement and move towards the hard work of collective memory, truth, and reconciliation.  

Sign up today!  Tell a friend! 

July 27th

AL-Khalil (Hebron): Palestine Team looking for short-term volunteers

AL-Khalil (Hebron): Palestine Team looking for short-term volunteers

Have you always wanted to do a short-term assignment with Christian Peacemaker Teams - Palestine ? Were you on a CPT-Palestine delegation and always wanted to go back? The Palestine team is looking for short-term volunteers August 25-November 25, 2016 and November 20, 2016-February 20, 2017. Contact CPT Palestine Project Support Coordinator Mona Zuhairi: MonaZuhairi [at] cpt [dot] org. Please share widely.

Prayers for Peacemakers, July 27, 2016 Europe

Prayers for Peacemakers, July 27, 2016    Europe

Pray for the refugees currently trapped on the Greek island of Chios.  They have waited four months for their asylum reviews in unsanitary conditions.  Pray also for the member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams-Europe team member who just found out that his cousin was among the refugees who died trying to reach Europe in a forest along the Turkish/Bulgarian border.  He had to communicate the news of the death to his family.


July 26th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: War looms at their borders, but life goes on

A construction worker in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan. Photo by: Peggy Gish

Even in the 110 F. heat, Kamal* works daily as part of a construction crew, building a several-story-high building in our residential neighborhood of the city of Suleimani.  He stopped a moment, in the hot sun, to pose for my photo, not minding the short break from his work.

Every day, early morning until late in the evening, Shorsh* and a crew of three other men slap out dough into large thin discs, bake them, and lay them out on an open table.  Eight large rounds of bread cost a little less than a U.S. dollar. People, of all ages, mill around his shop, buying fresh bread for their families.

 A few doors away, a clothing shop opens only in the evenings, when there is some relief from the intense heat and more people amble along the street to shop. A few will also stop at the ice cream shop next door. Others will visit a grocery shop where Rebaz,* his wife, or any of their three older children, greet me and other customers with a smile and help us find what we need. 

July 20th

Prayers for Peacemakers July 20, 2016 Colombia

Prayers for Peacemakers July 20, 2016

Give thanks for the signing of the peace accords that ended five decades of civil war in Colombia. Pray for the encouragement of all those still struggling for justice, restitution, victims’ rights and legal protections guaranteed to them under Colombian law.

*Epixel for Peacemakers  July 24, 2016 
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, 
to those who turn to him in their hearts.

Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
 Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps. Psalm 85:8-13
 Sign the Petition
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text  from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

July 14th

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ SOLIDARITY: Sixty years can be four generations of living with toxic chemicals


Judy Da Silva presents Glen Murray and David Zimmer with a pipe 

Chrissy Swain was eleven-years-old the first time she participated in an action to bring awareness to Grassy Narrows First Nation. By then the accumulation of ten tons of mercury (waste from Dryden, ON pulp and paper mill) had been contaminating the English-Wabigoon River for three decades. When she walked onto the stage at the Canada Day concert all those years ago, the Ontario government had already been ignoring for one decade a report* advocating for remediation of the river. This report was shelved and filed away for another twenty years—bringing us to 2016.

In June 2016, Grassy Narrows again presented a scientific report describing a technique to remediate the river system, one that would reduce the mercury in the abundant fish and bring health back to the water, the people and their economy. Finally, the politicians seem to have woken up from a willful ignorance that the toxins have not naturally gone away.