For the second year in a row, I attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. It's an incredible time where lawmakers and high level international diplomats share a common theme; mainly to pray.
Of course, the official breakfast is always on Thursday morning where the President of the United States and several Congressional Leaders come together under the banner of prayer. It's an amazing spectacle to see as hard line Republicans drop their political guard alongside outspoken left leaning Democrats to pray for the world. Some of them are deeply religious, and others have little to do with spiritual things, but for a short moment in time they find the common bond of humanity more important than any political ideology that normally keeps our country in such great tension.
The week really begins the Monday before as the diplomats from all over the world fly in for various meetings. Some set up congressional meetings with congressmen and senators, and others find this week as a neutral ground to connect with other world leaders. At the Washington Hilton there are rooms set up for every area of the world to have meetings, talk about their national interests, and ultimately have a time to connect with others willing to pray.
Most of you know I've been working with friends from the Middle East for nearly a decade now, so my interaction largely takes shape with business leaders, faith leaders, and political leaders interested in knowing how to connect youth from different cultures.
This year was one of the most incredible times I've ever experienced. I had the chance to pray with a Lebanese Muslim leader, a Saudi business man and his wife, and even connected to The Berkley Center Director for Peace and Reconciliation around the world.
I've been moved by the power of Jesus in the midst of these leaders. Jesus truly has the power to bring the oddest of characters around a dinner table to learn how to be friends in this dangerous world we live in.
One of my newest friends is a young man from a Middle Eastern country who was touched by the spirit of God in a new way. He told me yesterday, "I want to learn how to let go of my hatred. I want to know how to love people and become a better man." I couldn't stop the tears from welling up in my own eyes as I watched this young man see the world in a new way. He caught the spirit of Jesus and confirmed we must continue to focus on Jesus' message "Love God....and Love your neighbor."
When we simplify all our theology to a place where Jesus is at the center, great things can be accomplished. We can lay down our stereotypes of "the other" and begin to build bridges of peace.
I'm thankful to my friends at the breakfast, the organizers who labor all year long to facilitate, and my new friends who will take the message of Jesus they learned back to their homes...I'm Grateful.
Free from the baggage of Christian tradition, the hope and freedom found at the heart of Jesus' message CAN transform the world from the fear based mantra many of us cling to for security. We don't need to eliminate the world from talk of Jesus; but rather, I've found we need to continue to talk of Jesus in the most unlikely places.
Who knows....You may even be the missing link to bring the Love of God to people in your own neighborhood by living inside the love God came to give all mankind.
This week will continue to be an important guide for what we're trying to do at the camp in Colorado. KIVU will continue being a place where students from all over the world can hear the message of Jesus full of Grace and Truth.