This was written in an e-mail I received yesterday:
Dear Ecumenical Colleagues and Fellow Pilgrims of Justice and Peace,
Warm greetings from All India Council of Christian Women the women's wing of National Council of Churches in India
Please find attached the letter of condolence to mothers, sisters and brothers of Pakistan who mourns the death of their children murdered in Peshawar School attack.
Children and women always become worst victims of any form or violence. Their bodies become battle field where wars of revenge and hatred are fought.
As we wait to welcome baby Jesus the Prince of Peace in this season let us work together to create a world where every child can have life in its fullness.
Please circulate this letter to your colleagues, friends.
Wishing you all a very blessed and meaningful Christmas and New Year
Shanti! Shalom! Salam
All India Council of Christian Women
Women's wing of National Council of Churches in India
So, let me share the actual letter with you:
My Dear bereaved Mothers, Sisters and Brothers in Pakistan,
We cannot wipe away your tears but we want to let you know that we weep with you and feel your pain.
We are shocked and pained to know about the murder of 132 innocent students and nine staff members who were killed on 16th December 2014 Tuesday by Taliban terrorists who entered a school in Peshawar. We are horrified to know that teachers were believed to be burnt alive while students were forced to watch as Taliban gunmen stormed the school in Pakistan. We can only imagine what trauma these innocent children might have gone through and what trauma you all and your country is going through now.
Some media source say that the massacre was an act of revenge against the Pakistani army, which has been attempting to suppress the Pakistani Taliban in their North Waziristan tribal homelands over the past few months. We do not know whether this is true of not. We do not know why people resort to violence but we know that violence and hatred give rise to a vicious cycle.
Some others say that the school massacre is in revenge against the young Pakistani girl Malala who received the Nobel Prize. Malala was also shot at by terrorists for her advocacy for girls’/children’s education in Pakistan. This young girl dared to say:
"Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world." (Reference Book ‘I am Malala’, page 262)
As Malala rightly opines
"Today we all know education is our basic right. Islam too has given us this right. Islam says every girl and every boy should go to school. In Quran it’s written God wants us to have knowledge. In Pakistan 5.1 million children don’t even go to primary school even though in our constitution it says every child has that right…..………..It’s not just the Taliban killing children. Sometimes it’s drone attacks sometimes it’s war, sometimes it’s hunger. And sometimes it’s their own family…. Two girls my age were murdered in Gilgit…for posting the video online showing themselves dancing in the rain wearing traditional dress and head scarves. Apparently their own step brother shot them." (Reference Book ‘I am Malala’ page 262)
Like many mothers in Pakistan, the cry of Irshadah Bibi, who lost her 12-year-old son in the 16th December 2014 massacre - ‘O God, why did you snatch away my son’ - echoes in our wounded soul. It is during this time of pain All India Council of Christian Women cries out in agony to the God of Life:
Where are you God of life when our innocent children become victims of violence?
Where are you God when reason& human conscience get lost in the desert of violence & guns of darkness?
We cry out like Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:46) "My God! My God why have you forsaken me (them)." Oh God of life, comfort the bereaved mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers in Pakistan who lost their children. Let not violence breed more violence and hatred.
In this advent season as we are waiting to welcome the baby Jesus in our life anew, we are reminded of the culture of violence which existed in Jesus’ time. The cry of the parents of these children murdered in Pakistan might have been similar in agony and trauma to the cries of the mothers & fathers whose innocent babies were slaughtered by Herod in Jesus’ time.
We look up to ‘El Roi’ (God who sees) who saw the pain of Hagar. We look up to the God of Hope who gave perseverance power to Mary, Mother of Jesus, to bear the pain of seeing her son, whom she nurtured in her womb, being crucified. We beg you Merciful God of life to give such power of perseverance to the bereaved parents and family members of the children who were killed in Pakistan and to heal their pain.
With tears of empathy we pray:
El Roi (God who sees) comforts the grieving family members of victims of violence.
God of Life we know you feel our pain.
God of Love we know you weep with us when we suffer.
God of Hope give us hope in midst of hopelessness.
God who gives us resilience, infuse in us strength to persevere and transform the world, and to combat cultures of violence through acts of love, peace and justice, and to promote education that builds conscience & wisdom so that history does not repeat such violence again.
Sisters in Empathy,
Mrs Alpana Kumar
Ms Moumita Biswas
Executive Secretary, AICCW
All India Council of Christian Women (AICCW)
Women’s Wing of National Council of Churches in India