Wednesday, November 29, 2006

From Pit Bull to Peacemaker

Friends, I received the following reflection from Peacemaker Ministries, which you can find at They describe themselves in this way:
Peacemaker Ministries was founded in 1982 by a group of pastors, lawyers, and business people who wanted to encourage and assist Christians to respond to conflict biblically.  Since then we have developed educational resources, seminars, and conciliation training to help Christians learn how to serve God as peacemakers in the conflicts they encounter in everyday life.
Here's one testimony of Christian peace witness, which references their publication, The Peacemaker (you can find it at

Take care, and many blessings,

Matt Guynn
On Earth Peace

From Pit Bull to Peacemaker

Having just finished my first reading of The Peacemaker the prior evening, I had one pressing issue for the Lord as I knelt in prayer that morning: "Lord, do you want me to do more than apply these principles in my own life?"

God only knew the challenges I would face hauling logs from stands of timber in my own eyes on a more-or-less hourly basis.  Wasn't it a bit presumptuous to suppose I could help others in conflict?  As a lawyer, I worked daily to help "resolve" disputes through the judicial system.  But helping others resolve conflicts biblically?  That seemed too sacred a calling to even contemplate.  I purposed to wait on the Lord for an answer as long as it took.

Four hours later, I found myself thumbing through a completed client intake form and a stack of papers documenting an employment dispute. A potential new client fidgeted nervously on the other side of my desk.   Her grim countenance did not match the woman described in the glowing performance evaluations she had included in the stack.   She was a nurse, a "true servant, blessed with the gift of nurture," as one review described her.

I set down the stack of papers and met her stern gaze, still feeling a tinge of pride that the referring lawyer was one I had once faced in a hotly contested case.  

"Phil says you're a real pit bull in the courtroom," she said without a smile.  "That's why I'm here.  I want to teach them a lesson."

I couldn't bring myself to tell her that the "pit bull" she was describing was the "old me."  Almost involuntarily, however, I found myself revealing to her the "new me," even at the risk of losing a client.   I had no real choice.  The words on the papers I had just reviewed showed this woman to be a Christian.  Her letters were filled with Scripture and references to "what Jesus would do."   Likewise, her employer was a Christian hospital and several of her supervisors appeared to be sincere believers.

"I don't shy away from a good fight," I replied with a polite smile.  "But I always try to help clients count the costs before bringing a lawsuit."

"I thought these cases were handled on a contingent fee basis; I only pay your fees if we win."

"Yes, but there are other costs: Stress, distraction, time…"

"I'm ready to file," she interrupted.  "How long will it take?"

She was clearly in a "no nonsense" mood, so I got straight to the point:  "Have you considered what 1 Corinthians 6 has to say about filing this suit?"

The woman was visibly stunned.  Her "pit bull" was citing Scripture!

I pulled my only copy of The Peacemaker from my desk drawer and proceeded to share with her what God had been revealing to me.  To my shame, I did not give her my copy of the book (it had too many notes and markings to part with), but I did give her directions to the Christian bookstore, just a few blocks away.  I felt sure they had copies, as I had pulled mine from their well-stocked shelves only days before.   The woman promised to read the book before proceeding with her suit.  As she left my office, I prayed that she would.

She called me a few days later.  She sounded different, less burdened.  She had, indeed, read the book and just had to tell me what God had done for her.

"I have been a professing Christian for ten years," she explained, "but I met Jesus face-to-face in your office.   I wanted vengeance.  But He loved me enough to intervene and direct my feet right back to his word.  I'm not going to sue.  I love Him too much for that."

That was ten years ago.  Since that day when God so clearly answered my prayer, I have given away dozens of copies of The Peacemaker and have done what I can to promote biblical peacemaking in my practice and in my community.  It never ceases to amaze me when similar stories find their way back to me.  Conflicts really do bring opportunities to glorify God.

I thank God daily for Peacemaker Ministries and the good work they do around the world to bring reconciliation to people like that woman in my office-and to people like me.

Scott Cliff, Tigard, OR


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