This journey of being able to meet with friends of many other faiths and do things together for a united world has been a beautiful experience for me.
It started in 2006 when I was asked by the focolare movement to be present at one of these regional meetings for World Conference of Religions for Peace in Indonesia. I remember asking what I had to do and my director just said, “Just go and love.” It’s just that simple and sometimes you do not really realise it because in our working life, we tend to approach everything with an agenda and outcome. But yet this was the most important thing to do and that was what I tried to live out.
I remember the meeting was in Ambon, the spice islands of Indonesia. When I was on transit to Ambon from Jakarta, I noticed some Japanese and I saw in their demeanour, something simple and felt that maybe they too would be going to the conference. I decided to approach them and even if they are not, just to greet them. Immediately, they responded with smiles and we spoke as one of them spoke in English. It was a good start and many a times, it is these simple gestures that are important for dialogue.
I remember many times during this conference to resist speaking and try to listen and then offer a solution. It is very difficult for me because I tend to be very talkative as a person. It is true that when you love, God guides you to do things for Him. I also remembered telling myself to be ready for everything just to be open to loving.
And so soon after I arrived and having breakfast with my new friends from the Philippines, one of the organisers came up to me, and asked me to help with a session the day after. I was shocked and then I remembered I promised to say “Yes” and to be open. I kept doing this at the conference and very soon I was facilitating a workshop, a session during the seminar and finally the peace statement.
Now 2 years after that experience…. it has been an incredible journey. I suddenly have many friends from the other religions and we work together concretely for peace. We have this youth network called the Asian Inter-religious Youth Network. This is the network to activate religious youth for common actions for peace.
Just last year for example, when the Myanmar unrest happened and Buddhist Monks were injured. We activated peace actions in terms of peace signatures, prayers vigils and peace marches throughout Asia. We gathered petitions and then submitted them to the chair of ASEAN in Singapore as Myanmar is a member of this regional grouping. Our petition urged dialogue and respect of the Monks and people of Myanmar. In WCRP, we believe in the power of mobilising diverse religious communities for peace. And the common bond that binds us is the Golden Rule.
Personally, I also try to live out the golden rule in my workplace. In Singapore cars are very expensive and so my Muslim colleague drives me to work each day. And together we pray in the morning for the work in the office and entrust it to God. We would share the intention and then have a moment of silence. It is a simple gesture but it really works. I remember one time we were worried about the office’s financial situation. I remembered praying with him and the next day, more than sufficient amount of money arrived.
To everybody, I also want to add a final word and that is, if we love then we can be the presence of Jesus in the world. And he is the greatest and foremost master of dialogue since he was the one who spoke first with the Samaritan woman and with Nicodemus. He was also at ease with everyone because he chose to love first before he spoke. If we follow Jesus then we are ready to live the golden rule each day and become the dialogue He wants us to have…
(L. C. – This experience was told at “Let’s connect”, an interreligious meeting, organized from the Focolare Movement, during the Youth Festival of the WYD 2008 in Sydney)