In February this year Donald David McClanen died at age 91. Today, a memorial service was held for him a Dayspring Retreat Center in rural Maryland. His ashes were interred at the Lake of the Saints on the retreat center property where Don and Gloria lived with their family for much of their lives.
Don McClanen was a remarkable man. And one that changed my life.
On Dec. 7, 1995, 55 ministers and church workers were arrested in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building for praying and proclaiming the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Woe to the legislators of infamous laws, to those who issue tyrannical decrees, who refuse justice to the unfortunate and cheat the poor among my people of their rights” (10:1-2). Down the halls, Congress was preparing to pass the most drastic cuts to welfare that the U.S. had seen in decades. Since nearly all of us could name someone that we personally knew who would suffer from such draconian “reform” we could do nothing less but bring the power of prayer to bear in that place of illusive worldly power.
After our arrest, we spend many hours held by the Capitol police in a large processing room with desks. Arrestees were paired off in twos, each handcuffed to the same desk until the officer came to process us.
I first met Don McClanen when we spend 6 hours handcuffed together in that police holding area in Advent 1995. I knew him by reputation–as the founder of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Washington LIFT, the Ministry of Money, a mover-and-shaker at the DaySpring Retreat Farm of Church of the Saviour in Maryland, as the inspiration behind the Triad Initiative, and much more–but had never spoken to him.
Since we were literally bound together, he turned to me and said: Rose, how is God moving in your heart? As if my whole spirit had been waiting for that question, my normally reticent self poured out a story about Bosnia.
December 1995 was the tail-end of the former Yugoslavia’s hot war. Since war broke out in 1992 I had been fixated on every detail. From my row house in D.C., I wept and prayed over the award-winning Washington Post articles from Srebrenica, Vukovar, and elsewhere.
Don’s response was, “I’ve made three trips into the war zone so far. On my next trip, I’m taking you with me.”
Young Syrian musicians are performing on the streets of war-torn Damascus to engage passersby, despite the security crackdowns.
When people ask, What can be done against ISIS or in the midst of a civil war? Artists always have an answer. Whether it is Vedran Smailovic with his cello in Sarajevo during the 1992 siege or the Syrian youth flash performers, Meet Us On the Road (seen here), peace finds its way.
With a motto, “Start Music, End War,” the organization Meet Us On The Road (find them on FB), whose members appear unexpectedly on the street with their instruments to recite their “musical” prayers, only to disappear suddenly, sees art as the only way to motivate Syrians to put aside differences and pursue peace.
This is what protest looks like in the middle of war: reclaiming space from violence. This is what church should look like every day. This is the kind of evangelization that undercuts the brutal coercion practiced by ISIS and the others with a habit toward violence.–Rose Berger
Ambassador Swanee Hunt has a great post on the International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security held in Monrovia, Liberia, last weekend in honor of International Women’s Day.
I thought the most powerful speaker was Governor-General Michaelle Jean of Canada, representing Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. Haitian by birth, she spoke eloquently of what she has learned “from the incredibly courageous women of Liberia … Female leaders who see every ordeal as an opportunity … who measure their success by what they give, rather than what they take. You exclude women, you fail. You empower women, you empower a nation. Women never forget that life is our most precious asset.”
To read the Democracy Now! interview with world-renowned human rights lawyer and advocate and former president of Ireland Mary Robinson on her perspective from the Monrovia women’s meeting, go here.