Leymah Gbowee experienced the power of prayer after leading a reconciliation effort to eventually end her country's civil war. In 1993, a dream led the peace activist to call a gathering of women that eventually formed the Christian Women's Peace Initiative. The women prayed and fasted for the end of violence, denying their husbands sexual relations until the country reached a ceasefire. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor's regime eventually fell, and Gbowee's friend Ellen Johnson Sirleaf now leads the country's democratic government. Gbowee, a mother of six who splits her time between different countries as she promotes peace, attends an independent evangelical church in Ghana and a Lutheran church in Liberia. Her book, Mighty Be Our Powers (Beast Books), describes how her Christian faith motivated her to continue to fight injustice. CT spoke with Gbowee about the reconciliation efforts that led to her winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
How did you connect the role of reconciliation to faith?
Reconciliation is predominantly about healing brokenness, applying a balm to invisible scars. Even in situations where an offender apologizes, the process of reconciliation is not complete until you can forgive. The ability to forgive is connected to a higher power. Reconciliation is like two people on a journey. You become tied together emotionally. You are chained together. If you want to progress, you have to offer forgiveness. And if the person takes the first step and repents, but you say, "I will not let go," that person is free but you are attached to a chained ball.
Why did you feel that prayer needed to be a part of the process?
There's something special about prayer itself that changes things. It consoles you in your faith ...1
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