Faith Beyond Borders


It costs about $840,000 to build a single Tomahawk cruise missile – not including the cost of deploying and then launching it. Let’s say the total would be around one million dollars. The missile would likely hit its target, but if it misses, it could easily kill innocent people, including children. One thing is for sure – it will only intensify an already volatile situation and increase bitterness.

That same million dollars could also be used to build houses that would provide safe, comfortable homes for 4,000 people in, for example, Egypt. Like a missile, this strategy has long-term impact. Neighbors of different faith backgrounds would come together to help each other construct their homes. Families would then pay off their loans and the funds would be recycled to build more houses. It’s an investment in strengthening community.

This is the scenario that Don Mosley uses to illustrate the effectiveness of economic development in peace-building efforts. Co-founder of both Habitat for Humanity and Jubilee Partners, Don has dedicated his life to advocating for and serving marginalized people all over the world, following Jesus’ call to action in the name of love, and of peace.

Founded in 1979, Jubilee Partners is a Christian community that has hosted over 3,000 refugees as they transition into life in the US. This organization functions on the firm belief that we were all created to live in relationship with each other and to serve one another in love, regardless of one’s ethnic or faith background.

The community was named for the Year of Jubilee, as found in the Old Testament, also known as “the year of the Lord’s favor” which took place every fifty years. Don describes it as a year “marked by justice and mercy,” when prisoners were set free, debts forgiven, land redistributed, and a portion of the resources given to the poor.

Don and his colleagues and friends at Jubilee have courageously stood up to the United States government, taking truckloads of medical supplies into Iraq despite sanctions against that country. He explains, “the problem was not just one of partisan politics. It was rooted in our national faith in violence, our belief that we could solve problems by inflicting suffering on our enemies.” Even so, as Don and his allies persisted in seeking donations and supplies for Iraqi families, there was never a shortage of either. People across the US were moved by their compassion and determination, and were drawn into the effort to provide renewed health and hope to those in need. Eventually the US government had no choice but to drop all charges and fines against Don and Jubilee Partners.

I was first introduced to Jubilee Partners through Liz Purdy, a lifelong friend who lived in and served that community for five months in early 2010. She recently loaned me Don’s book, Faith Beyond Borders. As I read it I just couldn’t get over it – he was writing about all of these feelings and beliefs I have that I didn’t have the words to express. He has the experience, the knowledge, and the heart that I hope to have someday. His life embodies Jubilee’s mission to welcome outsiders in and to take a stand for justice in the name of peace, and above all, in the name of Jesus.

To read about Liz Purdy’s experience of living and serving at Jubilee Partners in Comer, GA, visit her blog.

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4 Comments on “Faith Beyond Borders

  1. Annie,

    Thank you so much for writing about Jubilee and Don’s work. You summarized his thoughts well and I hope this encourages others to read his book. I know he is really looking for any and all ways to get others on board with his/Christ’s ideas of peacemaking and loving and serving one another. I hope to personally show you Jubilee one day! (Obviously you already knew that). So glad “Faith Beyond Borders” resonated with you, thanks for spreading the word!!

    -Liz

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  2. Pingback: Liz Purdy's Adventures

  3. Be careful about how you position intent versus outcome. The intent of launching a cruise missile should never be to kill children (or anyone innocent), but it can happen.

    Likewise, the intent of building houses is to provide safe shelter from the elements, but many houses in Haiti fell and killed thousands of people during the earthquake…including children.

    I’m not trying to undermine your message, I think it’s a valid point. But I want to make sure that how you get to that point makes sense.

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  4. I guess I should specify that even if a missile doesn’t kill children, it’s still a violent act. It’s intent is violent, regardless. A sustainable peace isn’t built through coercion and force, but through people working together to make a positive difference for their community. And bonus, building homes is the more cost effective option anyway.

    Just the other day I was reading Greg Mortenson’s Stones into Schools and he referenced the same numbers for launching a cruise missile and advocated instead for building dozens of schools for the same amount of money. He also addresses the issue of earthquakes (a common problem in Central Asia where he builds schools). It’s all the more reason to invest in building quality structures, don’t you think?

    One last thought – a few months ago I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Who would Jesus bomb?” For whatever reason, it’s stuck with me.

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