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    Plough Quarterly No. 6: Witness

    Autumn 2015


    Featured Articles

    All Articles

    From the Editor

    No Time for Silence Now is no time to dilute Jesus’ call to obey him in everything. Do we believe his good news? Are we willing, each of us as we are, to take up our cross and follow?


    The Witness of Jesus As this issues ends, you have once again read many thought-provoking pieces – but what do we do next?


    Learning to Love Boko Haram Despite persecution from Boko Haram, Church of the Brethren members in Nigeria have largely remained nonviolent. As their stories attest, they witness to the peace and forgiveness of Christ’s way, even toward their enemies. The Upside-Down Church “Has God not chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” Waiting to be Welcomed What happens when Chico and Tatiana Fajardo-Heflin move to an impoverished neighborhood and play the guest, not the host? Clinic of the Great Physician Robert Paeglow provides primary and mental health care, and offers healing prayer to any who wants it. His offer of prayer has been declined only five times in over seventy thousand patient visits. After Obergefell We need to consider the cultural, political, and legal implications of Obergefell. But most importantly, we need to give witness to the truth in word and deed. Pursuing Jesus Our witness for Christ will require three sometimes neglected aspects of Christian life: hope, mercy, and communities of friendship.


    Everyone Belongs to God - a Reading You must witness to the truth that God is God and there is no other, and that he offers hope to everyone. Marriage under Christ This reading is an excerpt from a statement of faith by the community that publishes Plough Magazine. It is not intended as an argument to persuade, but rather as a simple reminder of what Scripture teaches. What Is Marriage For? At the heart of Genesis is the coming together of male and female, a symbol of the great complementarity of God’s whole creation, of heaven and earth belonging together.


    Poem: A Fly from the Early Anglers Accessible, unpretentious, firmly rooted in nature and place – even fishermen will enjoy this one.


    From Khirbet Khizeh to Lod First published in Hebrew in 1949, Khirbet Khizeh could be recounting my own father’s story: he too was an Israeli soldier in 1948, and was never able to forget the expulsions he took part in.

    Editors’ Picks

    Editors’ Picks Issue 6 Plough’s editors share their best reads of recent weeks. This issue (Plough Quarterly No. 6, Autumn 2015) they feature books by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Richard Twiss, Bryan Stevenson, and a poetry collection by Devin Johnston.

    Family and Friends

    Fundación San Rafael Fundación San Rafael started as a clinic and children’s homes; other programs now include a farm, an elementary school, a high school, and homes for the elderly.


    Readers Respond: Issue 6 Readers respond to the articles and topics, “No Prosperity Gospel,” “Finding God in Creation,” “John Muir's Bible,” “Can Wars Be Just?” and “Steering the Plough.”

    Digging Deeper

    Digging Deeper: Issue 6 Two titles on Christian witness that deserve special notice. Featured Books from Plough: Autumn 2015 A smattering from Plough; don’t miss the Prince - he’s sure to bring smiles to old and young alike.


    By Sharing We Live The Asian Rural Institute is much more than a school. Its work, “rooted in the love of Christ Jesus,” is inspired by a vision for “an environmentally healthy, just, and peaceful world.” Equipped with Water, Flip-flops, and Prayer Plough interviews Les Isaac, founder of South London’s Street Pastors. But if you think his ecumenical teams just go around saying, “Come to Jesus,” guess again...


    A Colony of Heaven: The Church in Dissent An unsettling comparison between the contemporary church and the early Christians, whose religion “transformed the mores of society.”


    Building the Muscles of Forgiveness Plough talks with Julia Chaney-Moss, shortly after nine black churchgoers died at the hands of a young white assailant in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.


    And This Amazing Blue It’s the sheer joy I get from the way the colors change from blue during the day to purples, oranges, reds, and this amazing blue after the sun sets.

    The Naturalist

    Nature through a Child’s Eyes Even as we guide, love, and nurture our children, we need to let them lead us back to a simple absorption in the beauty of the earth – to cherish it and defend it.

    Featured Authors

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    About This Issue

    Dear Reader,
    In a way that might have seemed far-fetched just a few years ago, we live in an age of martyrs. I don’t mean the tormented martyrdom of suicide bombers, but the countless ordinary men and women who have given their lives for Jesus’ sake – such as the ten thousand Nigerian Anabaptists killed by Boko Haram since 2013. If, as Tertullian wrote, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, then the church of the future will be reaping abundantly.

    A martyr, in the original meaning of the word, is a simply a “witness.” As Jesus said in his parting words to his disciples, “You will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And so, in addition to witnesses who die for their faith, there are witnesses who live for it. These include the families of the twenty-one Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS, who publicly forgave in Jesus’ name – as well as the families of those who died in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, who famously did the same.

    A painting by Ivan Shishkin depicting a country dam made from posts driven into soft mud.

    The first church’s witness, according to the Book of Acts, was a lived reality: a community of believers of “one heart and one soul” who shared all they had with one another. Isn’t it once again time for the church to live in such a way that would only make sense if Jesus is alive? According to Russell Moore, “it would look awfully strange, but it would look no stranger than a crucified Nazarene governing the universe.”

    We can’t talk about bearing witness to the gospel in every aspect of our lives without including marriage, a topic on which debate has burned fiercely since the US Supreme Court redefined marriage law in June. Several contributors address the urgent question: What does following Jesus look like today when it comes to marriage and sexuality?

    Finally, in our swipe-and-tap culture, we must remember to take time for another kind of witness – training our eye to see the mystery of the Creator in the natural world. That’s where fly-fishing poetry and painterly photography of nature can help.

    Our “Readers Respond” section has tripled in size, in order to accommodate more of the thoughtful letters that come in. And we’re grateful for each of the readers or contributors who have visited our community here in Walden, New York, to share fellowship. Let’s continue to encourage, challenge, and inspire each other.

    Warm greetings,
    Peter Mommsen, Editor

    artwork: Paul Klee, “Highway and Byways.” Front cover image: Ghislaine Howard, 365 Series, detail. Copyright © 2015 by Ghislaine Howard, Used by permission.

    four issues of Plough Quarterly

    About Plough Quarterly

    Plough is an award-winning international magazine of stories, ideas, and culture that appears weekly online and quarterly in print. We also publish a line of books, including literary nonfiction, fiction, and graphic novels. Founded in 1920, Plough asks the big questions: How can we live well together, and what gives life meaning and purpose in a complex world?