Encountering the Person of Peace/in News /by Brian Newman
You know when you find him – the “person of peace.” Welcoming, calm and relaxed, inquisitive, warm, kind, always looking out for the other.
Some places in the world are so divided that it is astonishing when a person of peace crosses your path. I had this immeasurable pleasure in the Kurdish region of Iraq.
I was invited into Yasar’s home (not his real name) for something of a clandestine study of the book of James. Yasar is Kurdish and is married to an Arab woman, which in itself is unheard of in that part of the world. Kurds despise Iraqi Arabs because of Saddam Hussein, who unleashed chemical weapons on the Kurds 20 years ago.
Yasar is unassuming, quiet, halting in his English. His eyes are sensitive and tinged with sadness and joy all at once. His wife is sanguine, welcoming, kind in so many ways. When you enter their home in the city you feel like you belong all at once, that you could stay there for months without any difficulty.
The little study of James chapter 1 begins around the crowded kitchen table. The first 10 verses are read in Kurdish – Bibles in the Kurdish language are rare so Yasar has made photocopies of pages for the people who have come. Yasar then simply asks, “What is God saying to us in these words?” And then he listens, takes in the collective wisdom of the group, he shares only sparingly. He thanks us over and over again for visiting his family, and for sharing our wisdom.
By the end I feel like I am “melting” in the goodness and grace of this person of peace. He and his wife started to follow Jesus almost 20 years ago. Yasar told me he was and is “totally captivated” by this Jewish messiah.
That Jesus messiah surely rubbed off on this Kurdish person of peace.