Don standing in front of the “Carousel” built after his trip to upper Egypt.
Don Mosley is a cofounder of Jubilee Partners, a Christian-rooted intentional living community in Comer, Georgia, which has worked with thousands of refugees from around the world. A veteran of human rights and humanitarian relief work in countries around the world, and a longtime friend to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, Mosley has led FOR international peace delegations to several nations.
What inspired you to become a FOR member?
I think I first heard of the Fellowship of Reconciliation when I joined the anti-racist community of Koinonia Farm
in south Georgia in 1970. I had just returned from several years of work with the Peace Corps in Malaysia and South Korea, and I was very concerned about peace and justice issues. At Koinonia there were several enthusiastic members of the FOR, and I was inspired by their work against militarism and racism. I soon joined the FOR myself and became very active in its work. (By the way, our construction at Koinonia Farm of decent homes for poor families gave birth in 1976 to Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), which now houses more than a million families around the world.) By the end of my decade at Koinonia I was a member of the FOR National Council, which I then chaired from 1984 to1986.
What is your proudest FOR moment?
Wherever I travel around the world, 75 countries so far, it is always the children who inspire me most to work for peace. So I am proudest of and most grateful for two FOR experiences in war zones that launched programs which have since helped many thousands of children. One was in 1984 when Phil McManus and I led a delegation to Nicaragua, jointly sponsored by the FOR and Witness for Peace. Seeing the horrible suffering of those villagers, especially the children, being caused by the U.S.-supported Contras led me to make at least a dozen more trips there. In fact it was the very next trip that inspired us here at my community of Jubilee Partners in Georgia – to launch the Walk In Peace campaign. WIP has since channeled well over a million dollars of compassionate contributions to Nicaragua to help provide prostheses for hundreds of amputees, scholarships for poverty-stricken students, relief from hurricanes, and much more.
In a similar way, when I led a group of reporters to Baghdad on a FOR peace mission early in 1991, just days after the catastrophic bombing by the U.S. of that city and several others in Iraq. We were led through the warm ruins of the huge Ameriya Shelter. Two of our U.S. “smart bombs” had penetrated the concrete roof of this bomb shelter and burned hundreds of people, mostly women and children, into the ashes through which we were walking! That trip led to two more in which we defied the U.S. ban on aid to Iraq and provided tons of medicine for the children’s hospitals. Eventually the project grew into an international venture, the All Our Children campaign, and supplied medicine for more than 200,000 Iraqi children.
When did you find your peace witness most challenged and how did you respond?
In November of 1997 a group of tourists was attacked in upper Egypt by a terrorist squad. Fifty-eight people from other countries were killed. This not only stopped the flow of tourists but also the many international Habitat for Humanity work crews that had been helping with projects all along the Nile River. This was a major blow for one of our most dynamic HFHI programs, which had already built thousands of houses for needy Egyptian families. After six years I decided to try to help jumpstart Habitat’s work in that area. In the fall of 2003 a dozen of us from the United States, six women and six men, arrived in the village of Bany Mohammed Sha’rawy, right beside the Nile River and not far from Luxor, where the massacre had taken place. For a more detailed account of the dramatic things that happened next, you can see my book, Faith Beyond Borders
, which I will be glad to forward as a gift to any FOR member who would like one. (firstname.lastname@example.org
The main thing I want to say here is that my “peace witness was most challenged” when another death squad (four men about 30 years old) aimed a rifle right my face, so close that I could have reached out and touched it, and I – without a trace of fear – responded with a big smile and in my very limited Arabic, “Peace to you. No, no, don’t do that.” All four of the men grinned awkwardly and stepped aside, and I proceeded calmly with my work, never even thinking to warn the others about what it happened. In fact I forgot it instantly and finally remembered it again a full month later after I was back at home. As it turns out, the same thing happened to two of our other men in the group, and they responded the same way. Result: Egyptian television reported our construction widely, and other HFHI work crews began to come to projects in upper Egypt. Reportedly every such crew has been received warmly and without any further confrontations with extremists. Friends, I am convinced that this was a miracle of God beside the Nile River as surely as anything ever recorded in the Bible!
What is the most critical issue we’re facing right now?
I think the most critical issue facing humanity today is that of climate change, with nuclear weapons in close second place. But, as so many other peacemakers have already pointed out, these and many other such issues are all closely related. I think all of them represent the widespread presence of fear instead of love. As Walter Wink put it so well, “Relentless love is the most powerful force in the universe!” But we must put that love into action!
What song, book, movie, etc. is inspiring you/giving you hope in this moment?
Two books which I have read recently which address these issues very powerfully are Climate Church, Climate World by Jim Antal and They Will Inherit the Earth by John Dear. Hey, can you believe it? Both of these men have served as executive directors of the FOR! Incredible!