by Dr. Conrad Van Dijk
We can all agree that the people of the world today are desperately searching for peace. The people of Sierra Leone are no different. At our meeting with the traders union, a man stood up and said something profound about peace. It caused tension in the packed room. The man wasn’t talking peace in his nation; he was talking about peace in his heart, and it was lacking.
I had been sharing how speaking peace to one’s neighbour is the first principle of transformation. The Muslim man, an accountant, stood up and was clearly agitated. He said, “How can I speak peace to my neighbour if I don’t have peace in myself?” What a question. The room got quiet, and you could sense tension building. I said that his question was a serious one, and asked him to speak to us about it after the meeting.
He later approached us and shared more of his story. He said that his life circumstances, and an effort to be kind to a neighbour that wasn’t appreciated, had left him frustrated and angry.
“I was kind to my neighbour, and got nothing in return,” he said. “It was just taken for granted. Why should I keep trying?”
We told him about how Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and how the bible teaches that our peace is found in relationship with Christ, not in our circumstances. Jesus’ kind of peace doesn’t take the storm away; he provides peace in the midst of it. That’s why his peace is not of this world (see John 14:27).
While our hope is that the Holy Spirit touched this man that night, it was a great reminder of how peace and hope for Sierra Leone, or any nation, first starts in our own hearts.