During 7 and 8 of November, all the pastors from the Belgium-Luxembourg Federation and its office workers, with some pastors from the Dutch Union, met in Holland for a study of ‘Violence and Nonviolence’. On the 11th of November, we celebrated a hundred years of the end of World War I. That led us to think about the role of Christians through history regarding the engagement or not in armed combat and others issues related to war and violent times. During the first day we heard Dr. Rudy Van Moere presenting three lectures on “Violence and Nonviolence in the Old Testament”. Pastor Johan Delameillieure talked about violence and nonviolence in the New Testament in a presentation entitled, “Still Prefere an Extra Mile.” At night, pastor Jeroen Tuinstra presented the movie “Hacksaw Ridge”, the true story of Desmond Doss, the SDA conscientious objector who was the first non-combatant to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving the lives of 75 men in Okinawa, Japan, during WWII.
On the second day, pastor Rob de Raad, president of the Dutch Union started the day with a devotional based on the subject of nonviolence. Pastor Chris Bultinck talked about “Early Christians and The Military.” Dr. Reinder Bruinsma brought us a detailed history of the church position on violence and nonviolence, revealing the changes of position back and forth depending on the time and current situation, in a lecture entitled “From conscientious Objectors to conscientious Co-operators”. Following that, we had three presentations of biographies of notable men who fought for their beliefs always making use of nonviolent means. Pastor Yves Pierre presented a lecture on one of the “Defenders of Nonviolence”, Mahatma Gandhi. Pastor Edouard Ajinca described the life of pastor Martin Luther King and pastor Ricardo Pereira spoke about Dom Hélder Câmara, both defenders of nonviolence. Concluding the meeting, pastor Jurriën den Hollander spoke about “Verbal and Non-verbal Violence Within and Outside the Church.”
Taking a quick look throughout history, anyone can say that violence has been present in every culture regardless of time and geography. As Christians, we are responsible for our actions during such violent times. Our position, for or against, can be a powerful exemple of true love and reflection of God’s will, or not. By sparing time to study this important subject, we intend to acquire a better comprehension of the matter which can help us to better know what to do in such violent times that can arise again, and how to better lead our church towards a safe position without being alienated.