LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Throughout this week’s Big Tent event here, participants in the World Mission Conference have considered ways to make a strategic impact on the issues of poverty, evangelism and violence.
Shannon Beck, a network catalyst for reconciliation for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), spoke of her belief that the difficult work of reconciliation and responding to violence can best be done through relationships and faith.
“We don’t only mend the world through this process, but we are mended as well,” Beck told the conference’s closing plenary Aug. 2. In looking at ourselves and our culture, she said, “we consider ways in which we might be part of the problem. This is not for the faint of heart . . . Only with God’s help can we do it.”
The previous night, Beck said, she was awakened around 2 a.m. by yelling coming from the apartment below hers. “When I heard a big thud on the wall and a woman crying, I called 911.”
After the police arrived, Beck invited the woman up to her apartment, where they had a long conversation. It was symbolic, she said, that on the evening before she was to speak about violence against women, “I was visited by an angel. An angel who was broken, in need of mending; an angel who is now my sister.”
One of every three women is abused, Beck said. Every nine seconds, a woman in the United States is beaten. Beck said she’d spoken for roughly five minutes in the plenary, and in that time 420 women around the world had been abused.
“Our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, our grandmothers, our neighbors” are suffering, Beck said. She invited those present to wade together into the work of reconciliation. “Let us go forward relying on the grace of God.”