ISSUES OF FAITH: Praying for peace in the turmoil of war

I was born in 1970, during the Vietnam War. I wore brown bell-bottom corduroy pants with a shirt that had patches on the elbows, because that was the fashion.

I grew up listening to Peter, Paul and Mary’s song called, “Blowin in the Wind.” In the song it says, “How many times must the cannonballs fly before they’re forever banned?” I love the harmonies.

On Memorial Day, I was always amazed at how many flags were on the graves of those who served in the military. I have a great love for our country and am proud of those who have paid the ultimate price in defending freedom.

“M*A*S*H” was on TV twice every day. The witty Hawkeye Pierce would point out how ludicrous war was and how it harmed the innocent.

My grandmother would take me to church on Sundays with her. As a widow, I think she enjoyed my company and I enjoyed going with her.

At church, I learned to forgive others, to turn the other cheek and that peacemakers shall be called the children of God.

As a teenager in the 80s, I liked new-wave music — in particular, Depeche Mode.

One of their songs says, “People are people, so why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully?” Later in the chorus, it says, “I can’t understand, what makes a man hate another man. Help me understand.”

My faith has experienced persecution by those who were intolerant. The founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum were killed by a mob in Carthage, Ill., in 1844.

They had settled in Nauvoo, Ill., after the extermination order issued by Gov. Lilburn W. Boggs of Missouri, which caused these early church members to become refugees, fleeing their homes and farms in Missouri. It is estimated that there were 12,000 inhabitants of Nauvoo at this time. For perspective, Chicago’s population was about 15,000 in 1845.

After Joseph Smith’s death, Brigham Young became the Church’s prophet and leader, leading an exodus of sorts from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley, searching for a home where their people could worship without persecution. Many of them walked the entire distance, some pulling handcarts because they couldn’t afford a wagon. An estimated 60,000 to 70,000 pioneers traveled to Utah during the years from 1847 to 1868.

On April 1, 2004, 159 years later, the Illinois House of Representatives passed a resolution of regret for the forced expulsion of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Nauvoo in 1846.

I’ve never personally experienced war or severe persecution. I can’t imagine what it would be like to leave everything and flee for your life. I can’t imagine sending my wife and children off to another country while I stayed behind to try and defend ours.

Greed and hatred are ugly things. I echo what Depeche Mode sang, I can’t understand what makes a man hate another man.

I imagine that our Father in Heaven weeps as He watches the injustice and suffering of His children.

Millions of people are currently displaced and in a terrible situation. People are huddled in bomb shelters. Far too many have died.

We may not be able to do much from here, but I am confident God can work miracles. The answer is not blowing in the wind, but it is to follow the Prince of Peace.

Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. We need mighty prayers to soften the hearts of the leaders of nations, so that innocent people might live in peace again.

I pray that all of God’s children may remember we are all brothers and sisters and that we might do what we can from here, even if it is only to offer sincere prayers.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Bishop Jason Bringhurst is the leader of the Mount Pleasant Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Port Angeles. His email is [email protected]

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