Fuller Seminary

Remembering Dr. Glen Stassen: A Mentor and Model of Peace

IMG_1943This past week, the world lost one of its most influential peacemakers. A scholar and practitioner, Dr. Glen Stassen’s accomplishments range from participating in the de-escalation of Cold War tensions to the development of a ground-breaking approach toward conflict called Just Peacemaking. There are many others who have articulated his resume and global impact, but I want to take a moment to reflect on the impact Glen had on my life and development as a peacemaking practitioner and trainer. And, more than anything, my understanding of the life Jesus calls his people to live. 

I had the honor of not only learning from Glen through his many writings, but as one of his students at Fuller Theological Seminary. Specifically, I participated in a course he taught on Just Peacemaking that was set in the context of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. 

It was remarkable. 

I can remember the passion in this man who had given everything to take seriously the teachings of Jesus as he stood on the Mt of Olives. Standing on the same hill Jesus had 2000 years before, Glen taught through the passage where Jesus weeps over Jerusalem because God’s people didn’t know the things that make for peace. 

I can remember standing on the shores of the Galilee where Jesus not only called his first disciples, but announced the reality of a Kingdom where peace would not come through military might, but selfless sacrifice. As Glen discussed the radical call of the Jesus’ Community for the work of peacemaking, I couldn’t help but imagine Jesus smiling on the faithfulness of this servant. 

I can remember sitting in a small cafe eating falafel in northern Israel where he spoke into my life and offered some of the soundest advice I had ever received around my future education and practice as a peacemaker. 

Glen taught me that that Jesus’ life and teachings actually matter. 

He taught me that Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount aren’t lofty ideals, but tangible practices that are be lived out in both the mundane and extraordinary of everyday life. 

He taught me that peacemaking is far more costly discipleship that war-making. 

He taught me that conflict isn’t a bad thing, but a dynamic opportunity for discipleship. 

He taught me that Jesus didn’t call us to get even, but creative in love. 

He taught me that peacemaking is not soft or euphoric, but subversive and costly. 

He taught me that academia isn’t primarily designed to lead us to right thought, but right living. 

Lastly, Glen’s most profound teaching didn’t come through his words, but his embodied practice. His daily life taught his “disciples” what following Jesus actually looked like.

As I reflect on the life and influence of this remarkable man, I’m both convicted and inspired. Now, often teaching peacemaking on the same soil in which I was taught (Israel/Palestine), I hope I can move forward with just a fraction of the humility, academic integrity and embodied practice as Glen. 

Glen, you have done well. Your work mattered and will matter for years to come. Thanks taking seriously the life and teachings of Jesus and for offering a set of practices that allow us to join God in the world he is making. 

Although the world lost one its leading peacemakers, I believe the influence of Glen’s life is only just beginning. May the world experience the impact of this peacemaker more than ever through the lives of those influenced by his faithful work and witness. 

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NOTE: It cannot be overstated how much Glen’s scholarship informs the work of The Global Immersion Project

 

My Unorthodox Road to Christian Higher Education & Why It Mattered

I originally wrote this for Fuller Theological Seminary’s website, which was highlighting 2013 graduates.

IMG_5350I had been in paid, full-time ministry my whole adult life. My reputation was glowing, my job security in place and my future bright. In the moment that everything “should” have been perfect, I could sense my soul disconnecting more and more from the life and ministry I poured myself into each day. I couldn’t run one more missions trip, facilitate one more event, or even prepare another sermon. It wasn’t that I was burned out, it was that I knew God was doing something in me that needed space to grow and be cultivated.

Ironically, it was in the moment I stepped away from formal ministry that I had the greatest desire to begin seminary. I wouldn’t be attending to build my resume or reputation, but simply to better engage and be transformed by the Story I had loved all along.

My experience at Fuller not only met but exceeded my expectations. As any responsible higher education institution should do, it taught me not what to think, but how to think. It allowed me to formulate the right kinds of questions that would lead to a renewed set of answers. It created space for me to be captivated by the Story of God and the reality of Jesus in such a way that I couldn’t help but dive deeper into my study and practice. It not only created space for me to identify my calling and gifting, but it equipped me with the tangible resources and networks to be sent into it with both conviction and expertise.

And while I have been deeply impacted academically by my time at Fuller, I have forever been transformed by the highly relational environment that envelops and grounds the academic in the everyday realities of life in our neighborhoods, city, and world. Today, I live more fully into my Kingdom calling not because of the institution of Fuller Seminary, but because of the dynamic network of relationships it represents.

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