Emphasis on empathy

International peacemaker from Jamaica says peacemaking requires a ‘willingness to journey with the other person’

October 7, 2014

Nicole Asherwood

Nicole Asherwood, International Peacemaker from Jamaica —Joe Williams

LOUISVILLE

Twelve international peacemakers from around the world are visiting congregations, presbyteries and colleges of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Sept. 19-Oct. 12.

They are sharing their stories about church-based ministries in their countries that seek peace justice and pursue peace in the name of Jesus Christ. This year’s international peacemakers come from Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, Palestine, the Philippines, Russia, South Sudan and Syria.

The International Peacemaker program is sponsored by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program

Nicole Ashwood, a native of Jamaica, is education in mission secretary with the Caribbean and North America Council for Mission (CANCOM). Her focus is representing the disenfranchised and promoting mission relationships with CANCOM’s member churches. She serves the World Council of Churches as a mover for gender justice and works with the World Council of Reformed Churches and the Council for World Mission in its efforts to curb gender-based violence.

What is the most important situation in your country that you will be addressing?

I will be talking about poverty, human trafficking, and violence, particularly drug and gender-based violence. I will also discuss intervention, education, and advocacy.

How are the faith communities trying to address this situation?

We do workshops, symposiums, education in schools, community interventions, and social outreach. It is going slowly but surely. Some folks in church and in society don’t acknowledge we have a problem When we agree we have a problem, people are willing to be involved.

What peacemaking lessons from your situation are you trying to communicate to U.S. Presbyterians?

Don’t assume you know the story of the other person. The mask you see may not have anything to d with the face. Get involved. There is a need to dig deeper.

What is the primary message you want to communicate to U.S. Presbyterians about your country?

Part of the way to achieve peace is to be willing to journey with the other person and to walk a mile in their shoes. Peacemaking is about acknowledging everyone has a story and it is by the grace of God that we move beyond the story to redemption.

Ashwood’s itinerary includes visits to Salem, New Hope, Lake Michigan, and Missouri Union presbyteries.

Pat Cole is a communications associate with the Presbyterian Mission Agency.