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Hidden & Hard Work – Local stories of peacemaking

Hidden & Hard Work – Local stories of peacemaking

By Marion Van Driel


Hidden & Hard Work – stories of peacemaking in BC’s Lower Mainland, is all about building peace in the midst of a messy world. Editors Matt Balcarras and Katie Gorrie present eight inspiring stories about local people who seek, with great intentionality, to usher peace into places of unrest and uncertainty.

Thought-provoking images by Rachel Pick marry with the text for a book worthy the coffee table; Lee Kosa’s creative design invites us to pick the book up over and over again.

Local Christians share their stories of peacemaking work in diverse areas. Each person, through their own calling, offers space for those unlike, and perhaps (if we are honest), undesirable to us – and the very people Jesus sought out. A common thread among the storytellers is surprise in finding themselves at their particular work that often emanates from their own past broken world experiences. The stories are honest and vulnerable.

Active peacemaking

Balcarras wants to present the idea of peace as much more than the absence of violence. He agrees with (church planter) Jodi Spargur’s description of peace as a place “where everyone is welcome, everyone is included. No one is left out.” Balcarras’ desire is to push people into a broader, deeper understanding of peacemaking.

Embodiment of peacemaking 

Balcarras asks the question, “Is peace even possible, and if so, what does it look like?” These are the stories of people in our own neighborhoods who’ve found an alternative way of living for the good of others:

• Frank Sawatzky’s involvement in the rehabilitation of released sex offenders through CoSA (Circles of Support and Accountability) has been tough, rewarding and successful.

• Loren Balisky understands the turmoil of dislocation – the anxiety of uncertainty. He walks alongside fearful asylum seekers, helping them prepare for their refugee status hearings – a ministry borne of childhood experience and deep compassion.

• Niki Frew has become a foster mom. “The system is broken…It’s our job to step in, to protect those who can’t protect themselves, to love when no one else will and to allow our hearts to be broken over and over again until Jesus permanently fixes the problem.”

• The separate stories of Zarah and Addie (nine years old) Tinholt are beautiful examples of a mother’s impact on her family, and a daughter’s courage to influence government leaders to be peacemakers.

• Beth Carlson-Malena’s introduces her long journey of struggling with her own sexuality and subsequent ministry of making space for a community that often feels unwelcome in the Church.

• Church Planter Jodi Spargur (Healing at the Wounded Place) who has been witness to the effects of First Peoples’ history, is about building bridges “so that we might find real and practical ways of pursuing justice together under indigenous leadership.”

• Azim Dahya is a Muslim accountant who has rallied a community to welcome refugees, and run (much more than) a food bank in Surrey. The ministry has mushroomed into ASPIRE  – Actualizing Self-reliance by Providing Inspiration, Resources and Education. He wants to help people become independent. His advice to would-be volunteers about time commitment is, “just not watch one movie. And dedicate to helping someone.”

Fighting for what is good

In the book’s introduction, Balcarras admits to his own struggles with peacemaking, “recognizing how hard it is to be peaceful, how easy it is to fight for what we want and not what is good.” The stories in Hard & Hidden Work give food for thought and inspiration towards action.

Zara Tinholt says of daughter Addie, “She learned there is compassion and beauty in every individual, and that she can earnestly support and celebrate the freedoms, identities and choices of others – even if they don’t align to her own ideals – while remaining firm in what she values and believes.” This is the stance of peacemaking that Balcarras and Gorrie share with us through the lives of these our neighbours. The work may not be safe, but it’s good.

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  • Heeather Pattullo
    5 months ago

    The launch of “HIDDEN & HARD WORK” last Friday evening was a wonderful community event at the Stir coffee shop in Ladner. Milling about with people who were strangers to me ,and the few who weren’t, was a great opportunity to share in people’s excited comments about Matt’s book. My own comment was that it gave a special depth to the stories to hear them being “spoken aloud” rather than just to read them myself. This book of stories will cause readers to think about possible actions they can take to promote peace in whatever ‘community’ they find themselves. I know it has done this for me…Thanks, Matt.

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