Peace and tolerance

New opportunities emerging for church, Egypt International Peacemaker says

September 29, 2014

Man seated

Ibrahim Makram. —Photo by Joseph 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 and 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.

Ibrahim Makram is from Egypt where he serves as Senior Director of Development in the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS). He brings 32 years of experience in human rights based approaches to development, poverty reduction, advocacy and leadership development.

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

The role of the Christian in Egypt. The recent violence in our country has given us the platform to convey a message of peace and tolerance. It is also an opportunity to seek and hopefully gain public support for our efforts.

How are faith communities trying to address this situation?

Church leaders have come together within the Egyptian Council of Churches. It is very important that we speak with a unified voice. We are calling for a peaceful change and are working to help families who are suffering regardless of whether they are Christian or Muslim.

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

First, we need to build as many channels as we can to American churches and support groups. Secondly, we need to ensure the mainstream media is getting the entire story, not just part of it. Thirdly, we need to come up with common actions to combat poverty and create a real dialogue because we need to build trust in a future that benefits all of us.

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

Their involvement is very important, not just financially but also with understanding. We want to create and communicate messages of peace countrywide.

Ibrahim Makram will be visiting the Synod of Mid-America and the presbyteries of Eastern Oregon, Greater Atlanta and Wyoming.

Rick Jones is communications strategist for Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries and is a regular contributor to Presbyterian News Service.