Photo by Jim Bishop
A former student in the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) at Eastern Mennonite University is among the four hostages currently being held in Iraq by a group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade.
The American, Tom Fox, 54, from Clearbrook, Va., took the “Strategic Nonviolence” class at CJP with Lisa Schirch, associate professor of peacebuilding at EMU, in spring 2004 and has been working in Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CTP) for the past year and a half.
EMU held a candlelight vigil for the four CTP hostages Wednesday evening, Nov. 30, on the Campus Center plaza. More than 60 persons attended the vigil as a symbol of solidarity and commitment to a non-violent resolution.
Those gathered held lighted candles and listened to information about the four abductees, spent time in silent reflection followed by a period of prayer and the singing of the hymn, “O Healing River.”
“Tom learned about other non-violent heroes in this course,” Dr. Schirch told the group. “He believes that as peacebuilders, we need to take the same risks as military people.”
Fox, a Quaker, has worked with CPT in partnership with Iraqi human rights organizations to promote peace. In Iraq, he sought a more complete understanding of Islamic cultural richness. He is committed to telling the truth to U.S. citizens about the horrors of war and its effects on ordinary Iraqi civilians and families as a result of U.S. policies and practices.
“Fox has devoted his life to working for peace,” according to CJP staff member William Goldberg, who helped organize the vigil along with Schirch and EMU campus pastor Brian Martin Burkholder. He noted that Fox is scheduled to speak at EMU about his peace work in mid-February.
At his web blog, Fox quoted a Quaker theologian: “Be patterns, be examples in every country, place, or nation that you visit, so that your bearing and life might communicate with all people. Then you’ll happily walk across the earth to evoke that of God in everybody. So that you will be seen as a blessing in their eyes and you will receive a blessing from that of God within them.”
More information on Fox is available at http://waitinginthelight.blogspot.com.
For updates on the hostage situation, go to www.cpt.org.