Author Archive: directorifi

Voices for Peace and Justice in the Holy Land – Nov. 7-8, 2014

Don’t miss this upcoming conference, “Voices for Peace and Justice in the Holy Land” – November 7-8, at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Madison, WI.

Hear stories and perspectives of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and secular writers and activists concerned with peace and justice in Palestine/Israel. Learn ways to work for justice and peace here in the United States, and meet others who share your interest.

Sponsored by Friends of Sabeel North America, this event begins with registration at 12:00 noon on Friday, Nov. 7 and runs through 5pm Saturday.  There will be plenaries and workshops throughout each day. On Friday evening enjoy a Palestinian dinner and cultural program of poetry and Debke folk dancing.

The cost of this event is $85 (full conference) or $50 (for one day).  Online registration is available here, or print a pdf registration form to mail in. For more information, visit

fosna_logo_2Friends of Sabeel – North America (FOSNA) is a non-profit, tax-exempt Christian ecumenical organization seeking justice and peace in the Holy Land through non-violence and education. Sabeel, which means “the way” in Arabic, is an international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians, who seek a just peace through theological and moral principles and adherence to international law and existing United Nations resolutions. You can learn more about FOSNA and Sabeel at

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Minnesota Man Urges Forgiveness After Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 Disaster

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS/KSTP-TV, Saint Paul, MN –  By now you know the story. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on Thursday, July 17, 2014. All 298 people aboard the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight died making it the deadliest airliner shootdown in history.

The Boeing 777 plunged out of the sky over territory held by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine. According to a report byMalaysia Flight 17 the Dutch Safety Board (193 of those killed were Dutch citizens), the plane was likely struck by multiple “high-energy objects from outside the aircraft,” causing it to break up over eastern Ukraine.

For Drew Ryder of Willmar, MN, that Thursday started out as just another typical day at the office–until his phone rang about 10 a.m. It was Ryder’s uncle calling from Amsterdam “totally distraught” saying he had terrible news: Ryder’s brother, Arjen, and sister-in-law, Yvonne, were on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.

Ryder says he found the news difficult to process, especially as the days wore on and evidence mounted that a deliberate missile attack brought the plane down. Even so, Ryder says his faith has prevented him from participating in the hatred responsible for the attack.

“It doesn’t create for me any need for revenge,” Ryder told KSTP-TV. “If we react in anger and ask for retribution, all we’re doing is continuing the violence.”

Ryder says that if he were able to meet the people responsible for the airline tragedy, he would look them in the eye and say, “I forgive you for what you did.”

Ryder added, “I’m actually praying for those people. We as Christians are asked to forgive those who wrong us.”

Read the full story: “Willmar Man Loses Brother and Sister-in-Law on MH17, Urges Forgiveness

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Mother Forgives Son’s Killer

CNN, Jacksonville, FL – On November 23, 2012, at a gas station in Jacksonville, Jordan Russell Davis, a 17-year-old African American high school student, was shot and killed by Michael David Dunn, a 45-year-old white man. The incident began when Dunn asked Davis and his companions to turn down the loud music that was being played in the vehicle in which Davis was a passenger.

After the jury was unable to return a unanimous verdict on a charge of first-degree murder, the judge declared a mistrial on that count. Dunn was convicted, however, on three counts of attempted second-degree murder. Dunn’s retrial for first-degree murder began last month and wrapped up on October 1. He was found guilty and faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.

After the verdict, Davis’ mother, Lucia McBath, left many people in awe with her grace and capacity to forgive:

I am praying for him [Dunn] and my church is praying for him. I forgave him a long time ago. I had to. It’s not just about Jordan. And I would not stand and wait for him to apologize. I don’t need his apology. I had forgiven him pretty much in the first 30 days. I just knew that was what I was supposed to do.

I was walking past St. Patrick’s Cathedral with my friend Lisa and I said, “Lisa, I have to go in there.” And I went in and I was just sobbing for two hours. And the Lord helped me forgive [Dunn] right there. In those two hours. I came out and felt like, “Okay, I am done.”

McBath is now the spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization that works with legislators, companies, and educational institutions to establish gun reforms.

Read the full story: “Michael Dunn found guilty of 1st-degree murder in loud-music trial” and “Forgiven to Forgive.”

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Dr. Enright Works with UN on Fighting Gender-Based Violence

University of Wisconsin educational psychology professor Dr. Robert Enright will speak at the United Nations next month and serve on an international “Expert Group” that will develop intervention models aimed at ending gender-based violence around the world.

The Expert Group, which includes participants from six UN Flagscountries around the world, will meet in New York on September 29-30. That initial 2-day work session is being hosted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).  The UNFPA is the lead UN agency for “delivering a world with expanded possibilities for women and young people to lead healthy and productive lives.”

Globally, according to the UNFPA, 1 in 3 women face gender-based violence, usually at the hands of someone she knows. Furthermore, 1 in 4 women, including adolescent girls, have been subjected to intimate partner or non-partner sexual violence. Those risks of violence are compounded in countries experiencing conflict and disasters.

                                                            U.S. Domestic Violence Statistics
    ► Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in  the United States.1
    ► A woman is beaten every 15 seconds in the United States.2
    ► Every day, 4 women die as a result of abuse.2
    ► Every day, 3 children die as a result of abuse.2
    ► From 1-4 million women are battered each year by their  husbands or live-in partners.2
    ► Family violence costs the nation from $5 to $10 billion in  medical expenses, police
          and court costs, shelters and foster care, absenteeism and loss of productivity.3
    ► Domestic violence is a major contributing factor to other problems: child abuse,
         drug & alcohol abuse, job loss, homelessness, and attempted suicide.4

        1  U.S. Attorney General
        2  U.S. Department of Justice
        3 American Medical Association
        4 Office for Victims of Crime

 “There have been years of effort and advocacy by many individuals and organizations to address these sad statistics,” Dr. Enright says. “Yet there is still a tremendous need to provide support programs toward psychological healing.  Forgiveness therapy is one proven way of restoring psychological health following such trauma.”

UNFPA BannerDr. Enright said the UNFPA has established three main objectives for the Expert Group Meeting:
1) To provide an update on state-of-the-art integrative approaches to address the trauma and post-trauma caused by gender-based  violence;
2) To identify humanistic integrative intervention models to help victims and survivors of gender-based violence; and,
3) To develop a strategy and timetable for implementation.

The intervention model that Dr. Enright and the Expert Group come up with in New York will be piloted in three selected areas where gender-based violence is prevalent: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, and Israel/Palestine. Funding will be provided by the United Nations.

UN Heart“I’m delighted that one of the leading UN agencies has recognized the importance of our forgiveness research at UW-Madison and the development of intervention models like our Forgiveness Education Program,” Dr. Enright said of the upcoming meeting.

“That research has already demonstrated that forgiveness therapy can have a strong positive impact in dealing with trauma and post-trauma in both conflict and post-conflict situations,” he added.

Dr. Enright said he is hopeful that the forgiveness programs he has been operating in Northern Ireland for the past 12 years; in Liberia, West Africa for 3 years; and the one he just recently started in Israel-Palestine after 3 years of groundwork there, will soon be employed to address gender-based violence as well.

“If students are introduced at age 4 to the inherent (built-in) worth of all people, which we do in our Forgiveness Education Programs, would the amount of gender-based violence go down, perhaps dramatically?” Dr. Enright asks. “The world needs forgiveness education.”

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I Forgive You and I Pray for You, The Patriot News, Harrisburg, PA –  The mother of 20-year-old Robert Burris, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in March 2013, has forgiven the driver of the car involved in the incident.

“I forgive you, and I pray for you,” said Shurone Carroll, Burris’ mother, at a July sentencing hearing for 19-year-old Jonathan Ramsey. After adding that she wants Ramsey to make every day count when he gets out of prison, she hugged him and shed a tear.

Hug“The court is very moved by Mrs. Carroll’s act of forgiveness,” Judge Andrew Dowling said. If something like this had happened to one of his own family members, Dowling added, “I’m not sure I could have done the same thing.”

During Ramsey’s appearance in court last month, the judge accepted the plea agreement Ramsey reached with the District Attorney’s Office, which called for 5 to 10 years in state prison on a third-degree murder charge – reduced from first-degree murder, which would have meant a life sentence.

The DA said Ramsey was an essential and critical witness in reaching a conviction of the drive-by shooter, Justin Clark. According to testimony at that trial, Ramsey drove Clark to 14th and Vernon streets in Harrisburg after they saw Clark’s intended target, Bennie Chisolm, with a group of people. Clark fired about 11 shots at Chisolm, missing him, but striking Burris fatally in the back of the head.

Just before receiving his sentence, Ramsey apologized to the victim’s family, and to his own family, for putting them through the situation. He thanked Burris’s mother for her forgiveness, and said, “She forgave me, so I think God will forgive me, too.”

Read the full story:  “‘I forgive you,’ mother of 20-year-old slain in Harrisburg drive-by shooting tells driver”

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