CURRENT STORYARC

ISSUE 04: 
NONVIOLENCE

8 ARTISTS
15 WRITERS
STORYARC INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTORS

Artists

Dennae Pierre

Dennae Pierce is Executive Director of the Surge Network, a movement of local churches partnered together to put Jesus on display in Arizona. She is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary and serves as one of the Co-Directors for City to City North America. Dennae is married to Vermon, the lead pastor at Roosevelt Community Church in Phoenix and they have four children: Marcel, Mya, Judah, and Jovanna.

Edward Sun

Edward is a Chinese American graphic designer, musician, and brand strategist born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. In his daily artwork on Instagram, his music as Kaptivated, and his professional work as Lead Designer at Braintrust Creative, he wields creativity as a powerful tool to manifest God's divine peace in a chaotic world. Connect with him at @edwardcreates on all social platforms.

Jean Nangwala

Jean Nangwala is a singer, speaker, creator and survivor-advocate. She was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia. Her passion for social justice stems from her personal experience of injustice and witnessing the same inequality across the globe.

Josue Carballo-Huertas

Josue is a creative that loves to create meaningful visuals that communicate a message in an inspiring and effective way. He is originally from Costa Rica but now living in the American south with his newly married Bride, Shelby and her cat Milo. Josue also serves as the Design Assistant for Pax and Designer for Vive Media. See more of his work at www.josuecarballohuertas.com

Michael Stalcup

Michael Stalcup is a biracial Thai American missionary living in Bangkok, Thailand. His poetry has been published in Sojourners Magazine, First Things, Faithfully Magazine, and more. He co-leads Spirit & Scribe, a workshop integrating spiritual formation and writing craft. Read more of his poetry at michaelstalcup.com

Mondo Scott

Mondo Scott is the Creative Director at Pax. His other creative side hustles include design, photography and mentoring urban youth in the digital arts at AMP Los Angeles, where he serves on the Board of Directors. He also serves on the Pastoral team at Ecclesia Hollywood in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife Salena and daughter Selah.

Nikole Lim

Nikole Lim is a speaker, educator, and consultant on leveraging dignity through the restorative art of storytelling. Author of Liberation is Here, Nikole shifts paradigms on how stories are told by platforming voices of the oppressed—sharing stories of beauty arising out of seemingly broken situations. Her heart beats for young women whose voices are silenced by oppression and desires to see every person realize the transformative power of their own story. In 2010, Nikole founded Freely in Hope, an organization that equips survivors and advocates to lead in ending the cycle of sexual violence in Kenya and Zambia. Nikole has been deeply transformed by the powerful, tenacious, and awe-inspiring examples of survivors. Their audacious dreams have informed her philosophy for a survivor-led approach to community transformation.

Niyi Adeogun

Niyi Adeogun is a visual artist, graphic designer and design engineer based in PE, Canada. Niyi has been involved in project management and execution, creating community-driven events, which led to starting his brand/design studio named ZeroResistance Studios. He also helps brands develop their identities by providing design services and advice based on his experience in creating logos, style guides, startup branding kits, design libraries, social media assets, conceptual and modern art.

Writers

Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith is a cofounder of Evangelicals 4 Justice and a board member of the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies. She is currently chair of the Ethnic Studies Department at UC Riverside. Her books include Conquest, Native Americans and the Christian Right, and Unreconciled

Andrew Rillera

Andrew joined the movement in 1999 when he left the Jehovah’s Witnesses and accepted the Triune God revealed in Jesus Christ. Andrew finds Pax by playing games with his family, reading, playing ice hockey and disc golf, and finding solitude. He has a Bachelor's in Biblical Studies (Eternity Bible College), M.A. in Theology and Ministry (Fuller Seminary), and is almost finished with a Ph.D. in New Testament (Duke). He co-wrote Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence with Preston Sprinkle and serves as an adjunct professor at Eternity Bible College. He and his wife (Karianne) and two kids (Eden & Zion) live in Durham, North Carolina.

Cole Arthur Riley

Cole Arthur Riley is a writer and liturgist who serves as the Content and Spiritual Formation Manager for a Center for Christian Studies at Cornell University called Chesterton House. She is the creator and writer of Black Liturgies, a project seeking to integrate the truths of Black dignity, lament, justice, and liberation into written prayer. She is currently working on a book with Penguin Random House to be released in 2022.

Dennae Pierre

Dennae Pierre is Executive Director of the Surge Network, a movement of local churches partnered together to put Jesus on display in Arizona. She is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary and serves as one of the Co-Directors for City to City North America. Dennae is married to Vermon, the lead pastor at Roosevelt Community Church in Phoenix and they have four children: Marcel, Mya, Judah, and Jovanna.

Diana Oestreich

Soldier turned Peacemaker, Diana heard God’s call to love her enemies in the most unlikely space: on the battlefield of the Iraq war. Diana is an activist, veteran, sexual assault nurse, and relentless practitioner of peace. Whether speaking across the country or in Iran and Iraq or at her son’s middle school in Minnesota, she empowers us to identify political or religious divides to cross our own “enemy lines” in order to wage peace. Because God’s justice and joy cannot wait. Diana is the founder of Waging Peace Project. Her book, Waging Peace: One Soldier’s Story of Putting Love First, was Amazon’s new release in war and peace. She lives on Ojibwa land on the shores of Lake Superior. Her family is woven together through adoption and a shared love of bad jokes and competitive card games.

Dominique DuBois Gilliard

Dominique DuBois Gilliard is the Director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation for the Evangelical Covenant Church. He is the author of Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores, which won a 2018 Book of the Year Award for InterVarsity Press and was named Outreach Magazine’s 2019 Social Issues Resource of the Year. Gilliard also serves as an adjunct professor at North Park Theological Seminary and serves on the board of directors for the Christian Community Development Association. In 2015, the Huffington Post named him one of the “Black Christian Leaders Changing the World.” Gilliard’s forthcoming book, Subversive Witness: Scripture’s Call to Leverage Privilege comes out in August.

Drew Hart

Drew Hart is an assistant professor of theology at Messiah University and has 10 years of pastoral experience. He is the Program Director of Messiah University's Thriving Together: Congregations for Racial Justice program and co-host of Inverse Podcast. Hart is the author of Trouble I've Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism (2016) and Who Will Be A Witness?: Igniting Activism for God's Justice, Love, and Deliverance (2020). He was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, the 2019 W.E.B. Du Bois Award in Harrisburg, PA, and was Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Drew and his family live in Harrisburg, PA. (Twitter & Instagram @DruHart).

Drew Strait

Drew Strait teaches New Testament at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. His writing focuses on peace/peacemaking in early Christianity, along with the arts of discursive resistance among early Jewish and Christian communities. He is a member of Keller Park Church in South Bend, IN.

Kayla White

Kayla White was born in Nashville, TN but now lives outside of Atlanta, GA. She is a graduate of LaGrange College, where she studied Art and Design with a minor in Servant Leadership. She believes that “art has the power to bring people together, communicate messages of hope, and help people see different perspectives.” Kayla recently joined the Love Beyond Walls team, helping to lead and advocate for people experiencing homelessness. She loves using creativity in a way that humanizes the vulnerable and believes that people who are overlooked should be seen and given a second chance. Kayla uses her faith to be a guiding presence in helping others and believes that anyone who has a heart for the poor should seek ways to be a better servant of humanity. Her hope is to help create a better tomorrow, where people can see others for who they are and not their situations. Kayla is a believer, loves to travel, try new foods, and learn new languages. She hopes to truly become what her enneagram number suggests, “The Advocate."

Mariah Humphries

Mariah Humphries is a Mvskoke, Christian, writer, and educator. Navigating the tension between native and white American culture, she brings native awareness to non-Native spaces. With over twenty years of ministry service, she also focuses on racial reconciliation within the American Church.

Nya Abernathy

Nya Abernathy is a public educator and curriculum designer focusing on social-emotional health and unity-oriented peacemaking at her company, The Dignity Effect. Her overarching goal is to guide people with grace, accountability, and hope into relational wellbeing that is anchored in dignity.

Rachel Held Evans

Rachel Held Evans was an American Christian columnist, blogger and author. Her book A Year of Biblical Womanhood was a New York Times bestseller in e-book non-fiction, and Searching for Sunday was a New York Times bestseller nonfiction paperback.

Shane Claiborne

Shane Claiborne is a prominent speaker, activist, and best-selling author. Shane worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and founded The Simple Way in Philadelphia. He heads up Red Letter Christians, a movement of folks who are committed to living "as if Jesus meant the things he said." Shane is a champion for grace which has led him to jail advocating for the homeless, and to places like Iraq and Afghanistan to stand against war. Now grace fuels his passion to end the death penalty and help stop gun violence. Shane’s books include Jesus for President, Red Letter Revolution, Common Prayer, Follow Me to Freedom, Jesus, Bombs and Ice Cream, Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers, Executing Grace, his classic The Irresistible Revolution, and his newest book, Beating Guns. He has been featured in a number of films including "Another World Is Possible" and "Ordinary Radicals." His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Shane speaks over one hundred times a year, nationally and internationally. His work has appeared in Esquire, SPIN, Christianity Today, TIME, and The Wall Street Journal, and he has been on everything from Fox News and Al Jazeera to CNN and NPR. He’s given academic lectures at Harvard, Princeton, Liberty, Duke, and Notre Dame. Shane speaks regularly at denominational gatherings, festivals, and conferences around the globe.

Taylor Schumann

Taylor S. Schumann is a survivor of the April 2013 shooting at a college in Christiansburg, Virginia. She is a writer and activist whose writing has appeared in Christianity Today, Sojourners, and Fathom. She is a contributor to If I Don't Make It, I Love You: Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings. Taylor and her family live in Charleston, South Carolina.

Terence Lester

Terence Lester is a minister, speaker, community activist, author, and founder of Love Beyond Walls, a not-for-profit organization focused on poverty awareness and community mobilization. His campaigns on behalf of the poor, including #LoveSinksIn (which provides handwashing stations for the poor) have been featured in USA Today, Black Enterprise, Essence, and Reader's Digest. They have been viewed by millions of people globally on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS News, NBC, Upworthy, and "The Bright Side" with Katie Couric. He was named by Coca-Cola as one of their History Shakers. Terence has delivered countless sermons and speeches at conferences, churches, and schools around the country. He has served on the ministry staffs of Word of Faith in Austell, Georgia, New Life Presbyterian Church in College Park, Georgia, and is a communicator at West Ridge Church. His books include I See You, Getting Past Stuck, Simple Prayers for Hurting People, and Identity Theft. He has also co-produced a biographical documentary based on his book The U-Turn Project: Answering the Call. Terence has also received numerous awards for his community activism including the Empire Board of Realtists Distinguished Service Award (2017), SCLC Social Advocacy Award (2016), Atlanta Voice's 50 under 50 honor (2016), the True to Atlanta Award presented by the Atlanta Hawks (2016), and the Fulton County Schools Service Award (2015). He and his wife, Cecilia, and their family live in Atlanta.

EDITORIAL  NOTE

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man." Considered the father of nonviolence, Gandhi taught and modeled a provocative concept: we were created to practice nonviolence as a way of life in the world.

The Hindi word that Ghandi uses, Ahimsa, is translated as nonviolence in English, but it implies more than avoidance of physical violence. Ahimsa implies total nonviolence in a person’s head, heart, words, and body. It means controlling our words and not speaking violence toward someone as much as not committing bodily harm. Gandhi also translates ahimsa as love. If you have love toward somebody and you respect that person, then you are not going to do any harm to them. 

There were certainly critics of nonviolence during Gandhi’s days. Many felt that nonviolence would not fix the problems of the world. Indian elites and politicians alike didn’t think ahimsa would help liberate India from British rule. If they peacefully responded  force now, wouldn’t they be more susceptible to force in the future? Wouldn’t a posture of nonviolence mean they were cowards? Was a commitment to nonviolence akin to being a doormat, or worse, a justification for continuing the oppression of vulnerable peoples? Gandhi didn’t think so.

Instead, for Gandhi, nonviolence is a living force of power. No one has or will ever be able to measure its limits. The one who possesses nonviolence is blessed. It is a rare gift to see and believe in ahimsa (nonviolence) in the midst of a world raging with hate (himsa). Violence creates more problems than it solves. When we believe we were created to practice nonviolence as a way of life in the world, we create possibilities for true reconciliation, healing, and liberation instead of leaving a trail of bitterness and hatred. 

Though Gandhi was not a Christian, his understanding of nonviolence is inherently biblical. Jesus, our prince of Peace, came to disrupt our cycles of violence with compassion, solidarity, and perseverance. He calls us to do the same. I hope that this StoryArc on nonviolence will inspire and equip you to follow Jesus’ way of nonviolence in our present age. In the midst of racial injustice, sexism and misogyny, gun violence and more, we followers of Jesus need to recover a biblical theology of nonviolence and pursue restoration in ways that cultivate holistic and redemptive transformation.

MICHELLE REYES

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