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By Cl. David Ben Usolin, SDB
Instagram: @david.usolin

       Sunter, Jakarta Indonesia, 23 November 2021 -- From 19-21 November 2021, six clerics from the “Sacred Heart” Postnovitiate at Sunter joined the Student Interfaith Peace Camp (SIPC) at Wisma Pangestu, Sukabumi, thanks to YPIC (Young Peacemaker Interfaith Community) Jakarta. This is the first offline camp during the pandemic. Young people from different religious backgrounds, mainly Islam and Christian, learn how to prevent and fight violence based on religion. Only those who are already double vaccinated could join this event. This event was also also close to HOMS (Hari Orang Muda Sedunia, World Youth Day).

       There are 21 participants and 9 facilitators from various educational backgrounds. The Muslims in this event came from various organisations, such as Ahmadiayah who are still seen in hostile terms by their Islamic brothers. The Christian students also came from different background such as Mennonite (Annabaptist) and Adventists.

       Over three days, the participants were guided by facilitators in interreligious dialogue. On the first day, we were all given materials on self-knowledge. Those who don't know themselves will face difficulties in getting to know their neighbors, not mentioning knowing God. No session began without Scriptural quotes from the Bible and Koran. Men and women are God’s creation, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

       Every participants was told to accept their strength and weakness healthily. For “Making peace with oneself is the key to making peace with others and God.” Then, we were invited to bring our assumptions, prejudices and stereotypes towards other people from different religions. People so easily judge others subjectively because of lack of information about the others. There are four steps for overcoming this pathology: 1) Build relationships with other people/group; 2) Dare to clarify every single opinion about others; 3) Appreciate every one’s uniqueness; 4) Do things together (music, theatre, sport, etc).

       There is one activity that was called “Scriptural Reasoning”. In the morning, the participants red the selected passages from the Bible and Koran based on a specific theme, such as peace and women’s role. The participants were allowed to share their personal experience based on those passages. I was given a very good opinion from one Muslimah. She said that God is holy and everyone who desired to go to Him will be cleansed. It means that God did not make a wall to keep inmpurities far from Him.

       Diversity is a bedrock for cooperation. The materials were provided alternately with various activities and sharing. In the morning, there was ecumenical worship based on one Psalm for Christians and the Shalat for the Muslims. We prayed for peace for our country. On the second day, all of us engaged in a lengthy dialogue about the prejudice that takes place in our daily life regarding the other religion. The Christians wrote seven question or statements they had and so did the Muslims. We were trained to listeb patiently when others were explaining what they know about their beliefs/practices.

       In inter-religious dialogue, the most dangerous thing is violence. So, we came to the same view that violence on behalf of religion is unjustifiable. Every conflict is to be solved by peace and this will make us more mature in our relationship. We also heard the explanation of a very good document, A Common Word (2006). In this document, Christian and Islamic leaders had the same view that “Loving God and loving our neighbor” is the highest principle, no matter what the class, background or religion.

       The atmosphere of togetherness was a natural environment for each one of us to have a conversation and make nice projects. We were split into five groups to make an art and environmental project and post them to Instagram. We celebrated our diversity in the evening with dance, theatre and music. Most of the ideas and items came from the clerics, thanks to their Salesian instinct to animate.

       The most memorable memories were called “Reconciliation”. Four participants representing Islam and Christianity stoof face to face. They offered a mutual apology for the horrorific events that have taken place between these two religions.

       This event did not include other religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. The focus was on Christianity and Islam. Peace between them determines the peace of the world, especially in Indonesia.

       The distribution of certificates and photo session marked the end of this memorable event. The participants were also invited to share this event via their social media. The coming events are visitation to the GKI Jasmine and Ahmadiyah Community in Bogor. Big thanks are given to the facilitators.

       The young Salesian presence in SPIC is a sign of Salesian Presence among Muslims (Rome, 2012). Indonesia is the largest population of Muslims in the world (231 million, It is no accident that the first SPIC was held in Yogyakarta, 2012. The students are the generation that could be agents of peace in different settings. May young Salesian presence among interreligious youth continue in the coming events. Salam Peace Shalom!











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