Presbyterians Today

OCT 2018

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P r e s by te r i a n s To d ay OCTOBER time at an Anglican high school he attended. "My mom said God changed a heart of stone into a heart of esh," Abaraoha said. Eventually, Abaraoha came to the United States to attend college. It was then that he sensed a call to ministry. Today, Abaraoha is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Midlothian, Texas, and serves the national church as a €eld staff member for the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Intercultural Ministries. While Abaraoha's story has a happy ending, there are many children whose lives will not. Unfortunately, the use of child soldiers continues today. UNICEF estimates that tens of thousands of children worldwide are currently €ghting in armed conicts. "Using child soldiers is an evil that we need to exterminate. We need to call attention to any system that supports this evil," Abaraoha said. Gifts to the Peace & Global Witness Offering can help the Presbyterian Mission Agency do just that. For example, because of these gifts, the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations can facilitate congregational involvement in the Red Hand Day Campaign. This international initiative seeks to persuade countries to stop using children in warfare. In conjunction with the campaign, Presbyterians across the country have sent prints or paper cutouts of red hands along with an accompanying note to the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. The hands and a cover letter are then sent to of€cials in countries that have yet to sign a U.N. protocol that forbids the use of child soldiers. To date, 167 countries have rati€ed the protocol while 30 have not. Working with global partners, the PC(USA) is involved in initia- tives around the world aimed at ending children in combat, sex traf€cking, forced labor and other types of human traf€cking. Several mission co-workers are also involved in anti-traf€cking work, including Cathy Chang in the Philippines, who devotes full-time work to the human traf€cking issue. Peace at home Closer to home, Peace & Global Witness Offering gifts are helping congregations bear witness to peace in their neighborhoods. This happened last year in Jersey City, New Jersey, in the aftermath of the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Like many other Americans, the Rev. Jon Brown experienced the shock waves of fear and grief that swept across the United States on that August weekend. He was distraught to the point of numbness. However, on the following Monday morning his hope was renewed, a restoration brought about in part through the Peace & Global Witness Offering. His spirits were lifted by dozens of elementary-aged children who had gathered for Peace Camp at the church he serves, the Old Bergen Church in Jersey City. "To see children of different races, ethnicities and faith traditions singing and laughing together was a powerful medicine for all of us in that moment," Brown said. The four-day event, which had been planned for months, drew nearly 100 children. It was spon- sored by Christian congregations, a synagogue and a mosque in Jersey City, which is one of the most ethni- cally, racially and religiously diverse communities in the United States. The children learned ways to resolve conicts and to handle angry and sad feelings. They brainstormed about what is needed for a good neighborhood and built model neigh- borhoods out of cardboard boxes and other materials. They heard from guest speakers, including a police of€cer, librarian, teacher and a public health of€cial, all of whom told the children how they could help others. The camp's themes were adapted from a curriculum published with support from the Peace & Global Witness Offering. The curriculum, Building a Neighborhood Together, draws a connection to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, a PBS program PRESBYTERIAN MINISTRY AT THE UNITED NATIONS Presbyterians across the country have sent paper cutouts of red hands as part of the Red Hand Day Campaign, which Peace & Global Witness gifts help to support.

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