Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Confronted by Peace (Interview @ The Pangea Blog)

As many of you know this last year I've gone through a huge transformation in my life. I have gone from being a Soldier in the US Army, caught up in the idolatry that is nationalism, to a pacifist, committed to the way of Jesus and the ethic of peace. I owe a huge part of this journey to my friend and mentor, Kurt Willems. Earlier this year I reached out to him for advice and counsel as I wrestled with the nonviolent, enemy-love, teachings of Jesus. Over this last year our friendship has grown. He has been there from the beginning and through my process to become a Conscientious Objector. For his role in discipling me I will be forever thankful.
       Over the last month or so we have considered doing a interview/blog post (about my story and our friendship) together on Kurt's blog: The Pangea Blog  The holidays kept getting in the way, he took a trip to Seattle (which I'm still jealous over), I had more Army training, and my wife left for two weeks leaving me in a non-blogging mood. All that said, this week we finally got our heads together and did this interview. So, without further waste of time, below is the link to our collaboration. I hope you will enjoy it!

                                Confronted by Peace: the surprise of nonviolence is leading my friend out of the army



  1. Matt,
    Like you I was on active duty when I became a C/O.
    Unlike you I wasn't a practising Christian before joining the military.
    I spent 10 years in Texas after I left the Marines, and that is where I joined the Mennonite Church.
    If you are still at Ft Bliss, there is a helpful group of people at the San Antonio Mennonite Church.
    Not pushing a particular church, but I know that they will help, as will the members of the Austin Mennonite Church (where I use to attend until I moved to Northern Minnesota).
    God bless you and yours,

    1. Thank you for the encouragement and contact info of those churches. El Paso is quite a ways from the rest of Texas but maybe we will pass through there soon. Peace

  2. should clarify that I left you to go visit family. It sounds like we had a bad fight and I took off HAHA! I love you sweetie <3

  3. Blessings Matt, I read your article over at Red Letter Christians (where I ended up by accident; a blessing). The turning point for me was Romans 8, "we are more than conquerors..."
    Some resources that may be of interest. If you are familiar with Spurgeon's popularity, these may be surprising.

  4. Matt, what an eloquent, heart-felt article in the Third Way Cafe. Welcome, brother, to the league of Red Letter Christians, aka "Matthew Fivers." I was raised in a Navy family in the 60s and no one was more proud of his dad's medals and promotions. Then, I too, I began to have doubts that warring/killing is something Jesus would do. I prayed for an answer for years but the answer did not enter my heart until I resolved to read the New Testament on my own. A real revelation for me. Before I had finished the last Gospel, it had become clear to me. Matthew 5 and John 18:36 were my clinchers, too. It is so obvious when you read it for yourself. My informal mission in life has become to "convert" Christians who misunderstand, most of whom haven't read the NT on their own. Eventually, I joined the Mennonite Church. But, as you no doubt have discovered already, some of the hardest to teach about Biblical nonviolence are American Christians. There is a sizable % of Mennonites who don't get it. It is not easy being a pacifist. I get discouraged sometimes, but I am always renewed and rejuvenated by stories like yours. I wish you and your family godspeed and blessings on your new journey. Thanks for the references. May I suggest you check out an organization -- Christian Peacemaker Teams -- a small, modest "army" who fight with different kind of weapons and who have a different kind of courage than the army you have left.