14 days to Peace in Middle East

Could this be possible?

Since the state of Israel was created in 1947 it has been at war or on the precipice of war with it’s neighbours. For 67 years this nation state has defended itself against attacks on most of it’s borders.

Many attempts have been made to broker peace. To no avail. The United Nations (UN) has had peacekeeping forces in the Middle East for most of the 67 years.

Fiji, a tiny nation of less than 1 million people in the South Pacific has provided many soldiers for peace keeping duties in this region.

45 Fijian peacekeepers were captured and detained by the ferocious Jabhat al-Nusra Front, Al Qaeda linked militants, in Syria in September 2014.

Held by Al Quaeda linked terrorist group - 2 Sept 2014
Held by Al Quaeda linked terrorist group – 2 Sept 2014

The next 14 days saw a transformation.

Fijian Lance Corporal Naivola said the captors had removed all their  weapons and they were just left with their clothes they were wearing for two weeks straight. “We surrendered everything except our clothes; but we kept our faith in God that we would be released.”

“For 14 days straight we were just praying and fasting for the captors to change their minds and release us.”

“At first they strictly guarded our area but later on they just left us there, trusting us that nothing would happen. We were well fed and no harm was done to us,” Lance Corporal Naivola said.

Meanwhile in Fiji, the entire country was praying for their safe release. The country came to a standstill and an entire day was devoted to prayer and fasting for this cause. And each day thereafter business closed for an hour at midday so that people could go to their churches and pray. A powerful force of love and compassion was growing stronger and stronger.

Against love there is no defence

A bond of true friendship was built between the formerly fierce fighters and their prisoners. “At first there was very tight surveillance… then they came to us and started talking and as days went we started to build our relationship,” he said. Read the full article in the Fiji Sun.

Captors cried as they released peacekeepers…

Speaking to the Fiji Sun from Syria, Lance Corporal Naivola described the bond of friendship they had developed with their captors during their two weeks of captivity. He said: “It was very emotional for us to say goodbye; the group (captors) had even cried and thanked us for our friendship,” he said.

In an interview with the Fiji Sun, Prime Minister Bainimarama said “These 45 men are heroes.  They kept their cool and showed restraint under the most extreme circumstances imaginable…   … shown the world our discipline and resolve 

Fijians  after their release
Fijians after their release

…not one militant was killed and none of our soldiers were harmed.”

Read the complete article.

In speaking with the Fiji Sun, Reverend Bhagwan said what’s interesting…  the Fijian peacekeepers embracing their captors as they walk through the gate or disembark the van carting them showing, “the forgiving and non-judgmental attitude”.  Read the complete article.

Peacekeepers remain at their posts in the Golan Heights

And these Fijian soldiers remain in the Middle East where they continue to be: … providing a calm, stable and neutral presence ….ease tensions and prevent violence. The Fijian contingent has shown a different way forward – a new road to peace in the Middle East.

Fijian released 14 Sept 2014
Fijian released 14 Sept 2014

A road built with love instead of bombs.

Who will have the courage to travel it?

After 67 years of military conflict, terrorism and hatred is it not time to try another way?

And these Fijians remain at their posts in the Middle East, as beacons shining in the darkness created by so many years of death and destruction. These men demonstrate courage and a powerful faith supported by the heartfelt prayers of their families and compatriots at home on lush tropical islands so far from the arid wastelands in which they spend their days.

Surely they are showing the way forward to the rest of the world? Hatred was replaced by love and true friendships were achieved in only 14 days…