Around Christmas, when we welcome the Prince of Peace and sing for “peace on earth and mercy mild,” I can no longer imagine some abstract notion of what that means. Instead, our seasonal proclamation of peace reminds me of our real-life lack of it, of those in our world today who are desperate for peace year-round.

I work at the nexus of religious conflict issues, particularly their impact on women. Each day, I am immersed in the stories of women experiencing heartwrenching loss, unbelievable pain, and the violence at its root. Lately, though, these cries have morphed from the professional drone of the news to the loud vibration of personal stories.

This is not the kind of work you leave at the office. I cannot mute their calls for peace nor close the door on their suffering. Even at night the experiences of these women stay with me in my thoughts and dreams.

Today, many of our world’s women are suffering unspeakably at the hands of others. They work to protect their families from extremism and religiously labeled violence, with few answers as to when the persecution and violence will end and who will stop it.

Knowing my faith, some of these women will ask about the role of the church in preventing the kinds of violence they’ve experienced firsthand. They regularly ask about my church and the congregations I have connections with, and whether there is an opportunity to share their stories.

Just last month, at a conference of global peacemakers and conflict experts, I was introduced to a member of a joint Palestinian-Israeli organization made up of citizens who have lost loved ones in the conflict. Out of their loss, they work tirelessly for reconciliation and peace. Like her fellow members, ...

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