By Bathsheba Wells Dion
Suppose your relationship with someone else is strained, possibly near to breaking down. You are not succeeding in resolving disagreements, however much you try, and in spite of heartfelt prayer. It looks as if nothing will change without somebody else intervening. But rather than resort to calling in “big guns”, you are willing to try to sort things out, face to face. Mediation can open up a pathway for that dialogue to happen in a safer and more constructive way.
This is where Bridge Builders Ministries steps in. The organisation originated from the London Mennonite Centre, with its vision to cultivate a culture of peace within churches. From a three-day mediation course in 1994, they have been steadily growing in their mission to help religious leaders to ‘do conflict’ better. Now as a fully-fledged independent charity, they run numerous conflict transformation and mediation courses to equip religious leaders to repair broken relationships and to deal with conflict productively.
Conflict is inevitable in life, especially when it is rooted in values that are important to us.
When debates cut to the heart of who people are and what they believe, they can easily lead to people feeling vulnerable and defensive. When this happens we might be tempted to respond with aggression, or simply to cut ourselves off from those we disagree as we do things our own separate ways. But in doing so, we risk missing opportunities for growth.
Bridge Builders ministries begins by helping people to identify and address the hurt that they feel and the issues that they face, and then brings people into face to face dialogue as they work through these tensions to transform their conflicts into new and creative relationships.
Our Journey of Hope training programme is informed by this emphasis on practical, applied skills based on a strong theological foundation. Through the Action at Home month in May, our participants will be supported to embed their learning in their own communities, developing best practice showcased by our partners including Bridge Builders Ministries.