With all meetings and travel canceled, and much lower interaction with people, this has been a fantastic time of progress for writing my dissertation. I have now completed drafts of all of the chapters. I await additional feedback from my supervisors and am starting to compile my first full draft. A major setback is that the organization which has provided me a full scholarship these past three years informed me that they will not be giving any scholarships in the 2020–2021 school year. However, I received a gift last week with a note saying, “Towards your study for next year. God spoke to us.” It filled me with faith to continue.
For the past two years, Peacemakers Confessing Christ International (PCCI) has been the EMM Christian-Muslim Relations Team’s growing edge. COVID-19 restrictions and changes forced our team to begin rethinking our activities and how we might continue to be useful for God’s kingdom. We took a look at communications strategies with our partners, some don’t have easy access to email which has been our primary way of communicating with the PCCI network. We have moved to using WhatsApp and it jump-started interactions between partners in the network. For 12 weeks, we read a quote from David Shenk’s book, Christian. Muslim. Friend., followed by a brief commentary and a prayer. This is shared as a voice message that everyone in the network can listen to, replay, and share with others.
I am also working with filmmakers to create a documentary about a partner in Indonesia with an amazing story about a Mennonite pastor and the Muslim militia commander who built peace in their region during a time of violence and are currently cooperating with health initiatives in this pandemic.