About

Posted: 16th April 2013 by Evan Davies in Uncategorized



Study War No More (SWNM)

            It’s a journey into sacrifice, the giving of ones time and patience, enduring the pain, sadness, and oppression of walking along the side of marginalized human beings. These are stories and pictures of compassion, love, and acceptance. Stories and pictures of “all ages”, showing how to study war no more. How to begin to take these stories and pictures of sacrifice and bring them into your life, our lives, around where you live, we live and apply them there.

We at SWNM want to hear the stories and see the pictures of how your family took the steps to make the change happen. We are going down by “The Riverside” (Together) and we aren’t going to study war no more. Let’s eliminate all kinds of wars that divide us from each other.

 

Peace Knows

Peace knows no boundaries

Whether you are young or old

Rich or poor

From any walk of life

Any political persuasion,

Religion or not,

Has the ability

To make the world a more peaceful place

What are you willing to do?

Think peace

Talk peace

Act peace

Study war no more wants us

To reach out and remember

We are all in this together.

Letters from Confinement Part 4

Posted: 17th June 2013 by Evan Davies in Uncategorized

As I walk among the 600 federal inmates (people), I have a lot to pray about! Continuous stories of people making the wrong decisions at the worst time of their lives. Time means years! I’ve met people that have already completed, 26, 24, 23 and on down to just ready for a half-way house. On the opposite way at looking at time, I met people just coming into the Federal System with the same amount of years. Their wives, children, family and friends are facing the same amount of anguish. I’m hoping to tell some true stories, not written by myself, but by anonymous people facing re-entry into society and then an anguished people entering the prison system.

For myself, today is the day the Lord has Made and I’ll be glad in it…

I find myself walking around the large oval (top view) perimeter. Two and a half times around this track= a mile. The most, I walked, when I first arrived here was 20 laps. I didnt have tennis shoes at the time, just black prison boots, 3 sizes wider than normal that. I’m used to wearing. After five days in these boots, my feet in different parts blistered. Only when visiting the handball courts that’s inside the track area.

I was a handball player at one time in my early life. I approach these people playing and they ask me to play. I said Id try. I went out on the court and brought my game. When they saw I could play, the very next game a pair of 9 size tennis shoes appeared. I bought them for $10. which saved my feet. A month later, I still have them, but my right shoulder and right knee throb at night until I take some Alive or Ibuprofen pain relievers before I can sleep. I’m backing off my handball and walking for a while, but at least no more blisters.

I have a job, it’s not much or could I call it a job. I eat breakfast at 6am in the morning. Monday-Thursday-Friday. After breakfast I walk and talk with people till 740am. Oh, I have to make my bed first! Then walk and talk. At 740am, I report to Rec Officer knock on the door, he waves me in and I say, “Chantel checking in,” he says, “ok.” Then I walk away to continue my day. There’s something missing! My work consists of walking, talking, reading books, writing letters, going to eat at the dining hall, going to the laundry, library, getting a hair cut and sometime in the future, I’ll get a visit. I only have to do 2/3 of my 3 months left, because 1/3 of my time is sleeping. I’m not trying to make this prison system tiem seem easy, because its “not”. The hardest part of my work is not being with my dog Little Bear, the Americus Mennonite Fellowship Church, my Forest Green House I live in , my neighbors next door and up the road, a great Christian Community called “Koinonia Farm”, A great town called Americus, GA, the birth place of Habitat for Humanity, The Fuller Center for Housing, many great land marks, and especially Jimmy Carters boyhood high school where the fun only begins… in Plains, GA

Letters from Confinement Part 3

Posted: 17th June 2013 by Evan Davies in Uncategorized

Today is septic tank emptying day, the prison closes down the movement of inmates so that their tank trucks can empty the stinky dark hole in the ground. Weirdly enough, the septic hole sits 50 feet in front of the dining hall where well have to eat. The smell doesnt help the smell of the cooked food. The we eat is good sometimes, but not especially when this hole is emptied during meal time. The wind was blowing away from the dining hall, which was a good thing today.

I’ve been reading a selection of books lately. Books that the social justice people mail into me. When I’m finished with them, I pass them on throughout the population. No telling where seeds are planted in good soil.

This first book called “Open Veins of Latin America” by Eduardo Galeano. Eduardo goes back to the 1500s and tells the history of different countries literally sticking their flag in the ground and claiming that land for their kings. This book with the yellow cover, however proved that there were no safe islands in our region, we shared 500 years of exploitation and colonization, we were all linked by a common fate, we all belonged to the same race of the oppressed. On September 11, 1973 a military coup ended a century of democratic tradition in Chile and started the long reign of General Augusto Pinochet. Similar coups followed in other countries and soon half the continent’s population was living in terror. I believe today that wars are not the wars of protecting our borders, but protecting other elite governments way of life. The wealth war of eminent domain…

The second book is called “On God’s Side” by Jim Wallis. Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners and editor in chief of Sojourners magazine.

The third book is called “Widening the Circle,” Edited by Joanna Shenk. A quote: Widening the Circle is timely as the Mennonite Tradition gathers interest and support among young people who are walking away from churches in search of cultural engagement, authentic relationships and a fresh focus on the teaching and ministry of Jesus.

-Eddie Gibbs, Senior Professor, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Seminary. This is quoted from the beginning of the book, Widening the Circle.

The fourth book is called “Peace in Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hanh, The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday life. Forward by HH the Dahai Lama.

The fifth book is called The Message Remix, The Bible in contemporary Language by Eugene Peterson. There area  a couple more books coming my way

 

Letters from Confinement Part 2

Posted: 24th April 2013 by Evan Davies in Nash

 

There was an article that was sent to me about a conversation with the Public Affairs Officer at WHINSEC.

HIs name is Mr. Lee Rials. He said, “For decades the school has been accused of having some responsibility for “graduates” who were later accused of committing atrocities. But he is also saying, one final quip about using the word “graduates” Mr. Rials told me he had spoken to a German journalist while watching a group of Chilean cadets that, “the cadets were here for only 10 days, but in 10 years be WHINSEC graduates. His justification that he would like people to see is just because the cades only take on 10 day class, this doesn’t mean that they are a graduates. I can see that in the beginning of his training. So the cadet got trained lets say in interrogation tactics and brought back films and paper work from the 10 day event. He goes back with honor, he goes and training these tactics and like my school, one completes the class. Now there are 50 soldiers that know these tactics and numbers grow. Now the next cadet goes to the SOA and trains for a sniper course in long range, high-caliber tactics. So he takes the course and completes it in 10 days. He has his films and documents and goes back and starts a training course, and he becomes the teacher of the trainings.

With the 60,000 cadets or soldiers that were trained at the SOA, “in time”, all will become “graduates” of the thousands of courses trained there. If one cadet by himself is just looked at, then maybe no, he is not a graduate, buts still is part of the puzzle to make the complete picture, “complete graduate in time.

Like any training, colleges around the world teach people to go back into their communities and become a society, that’s what makes it work. The same thing for cadets, they go back and teach and in time a society of graduates are formed for any political persuasion. From there, their own societies against people, would think their doing the right thing and probably think they would be getting a Nobel Prize for peacemaking. Some of the graduates are in pictures, framed on walls inside the classrooms where classes are taught. Those graduates are some of the ones that created some of the worst atrocities and are looked at by cadets that follow their leaders of examples to go by. Like hero’s.

Like any military governed by land or country, we defend our beliefs by training any civil disobedience action into a prison sentence, just for bringing out the truth.

Letters from Confinement Part 1

Posted: 22nd April 2013 by Evan Davies in Nash

I’m sorry for the events that took spe on March 13, 2013. We will never know how my civil disobedience really affected change! Some people at SOAwatch like Nico said the story was picked up by the AP, thats big. I found out and mentioned this in several letters to Rep. Jim McGovern will introduce legislation to suspend operations at the school and investigate human rights abuses in Latin America. That sounds important! How important this man will be? I only wish it will be this year, that someone would tell me that SOA got closed.

March 19, 2013 Parque Cuscatlan, San Salvador. SOAwatch apologizes for United States role in the deaths of 75,000 Salvadorans.

Not too long ago, this month, Father Roy went to El Salvador with a large group to be part of a delegation. They met with the Vice President and military staff to insure these atrocities would not happen again to their people. After the group met with the VP, they had a march of thousands to to the large stone wall where the names of people killed by war and the SOA graduates. When the group came to the place and time period of the atrocities on the wall, set up tables, as mothers came with pictures of the missing, young and old that they lost. Sadness was in the air…

After the last men, women and children, they spoke about a banner Archbishop Oscar Romero had been placed with the words in Spanish which said,

Que no se queden tontos

Crimines Impunes y que,

aunque sean vestidos de militar,

tien la obligacion de remdir

cuentas ante la justicia

The words, “yes, we stand on holy ground today. All of El Salvador is holy ground, as one of your theologians said, because wherever great suffering and great love converge, we are on holy ground.

We close by saying thank you. Thank you for receiving our words of pardon. Thank you for welcoming us to your country. Thank you for your courage and dignity and humanity. We are sincere in saying that our lives have been forever changed and enriched because of your lives. You have shown us and the worked, what it means to give your lives out of love for others. and struggle unceasingly but with joy for another world founded on justice and solidarity.

Someday I will write like that with compassion. First I try to walk it with my feet and maybe its the same…

Nashua at the City Jail

Posted: 1st January 2013 by nash in Articles, Nash

Right now is the time to be strong for what I am about to undertake in the city jail. My thoughts won’t be so much on how the jail operates inside its walls with the slamming of doors, or on the keys that rattle from the police that walk by all through the day and night, or on those cold jail pods that are overcrowded with people en route to court. sadness awaits them all. with all this, these people will be very upset, angry lost from family and friends. Disrespect will be the moral attitude of the atmosphere. My strength is God first and all the POC [Prisoners of Conscience] – and supporters- that have walked these city jails before me. All together we have hundreds of thousands of hours being in jail cells and federal prisons. Once again, it’s not what goes in between these walls with which I have a hard time. it’s the training at Fort Benning that must be ended!

My thoughts will be with all the white crosses that have a name on them. A name of a human being! From moms who still had babies inside them, to mothers and fathers who were holding their children’s hands when they were killed and buried in unmarked graves, only to be found years later with expressions of fear still on the faces. Young and old were buried. They didn’t fight back with guns; they were only farmers and regular human beings, like you and I. They were taken form their homes, or stolen, kidnapped from the roads that go to schools and churches like ones we Americans go to.

These are the stories that will be with me. The walls of jails and federal prisons hold people that have fears. I am hoping to share these wise stories with them and to go deeper in their stories. When you write to me, write to other inmates inside here with me so I can read to them because I want to share your stories with them. Write as if you are making a statement to the judge to whom I will be making a statement as well, on January 9, 2012, and give me and theme hope and a new beginning.

The time is changing for our liberties as you read these words. The government works somewhere 24 hours a day. We need to focus less on Christmas gifts in abundance. The abundance has to be focused on giving gifts in small amounts to the SOA Watch every day. Giving up a cup of coffee, the sweets we don’t need, the food we may not need because we are overfed anyways. On this day (especially), January 9th, 2013, sell something that you need, but sell it anyways in order to give of ourselves in honor of the deaths the School of the Americas has brought to many Latin American countries.

We need to educate in a creative way to live in a unified community of people like you and I. Don’t slow down; run, walk with your neighborhood. Get active, turn off you TV on January 9, 2013, and send prayers and small gifts to SOA Watch.

 

Thank you for your support,

NASHUA CHANTAL

POC 2013

Also make sure you check out the Americus Mennonite Fellowship Church on Facebook, to see what we follow and support.

 

SOA Protest (2012)_Photo Gallery

Posted: 15th December 2012 by nash in Photo Gallery

—–

Out of the Belly of Hell

The day we were all praying for finally came! After 15 months of age-lasting suffering, my dear friend, Leo Pineda, was at last released from detention. I was so privileged to be there to walk with him those first steps of freedom as we exited Stewart Detention Center together. I couldn’t stop looking into his radiant face as he smiled at the open blue sky, soaking in the sunshine and fresh air. If bliss could be captured with metaphor – he was an ever-opening flower bursting forth in the pollen-love explosion of redeeming grace. Praise God!
Yet, there was much horrid affliction before this day of deliverance. Like Jonah in the “belly of hell”, Leo was swallowed up into the depths of hopelessness. So many times, his hopes were dashed against the cinder-block walls of that private, for-profit pit of exploitation in Lumpkin Georgia. Fifteen months is a long time to be locked up in detention. It is an “aionian (age-abiding) experience” that can seem like forever. Jonah described his decent into hell as “forever” – a qualitative event which in actuality lasted 3 days. When three days or fifteen months gets absorbed into God’s timelessness, that which seemed eternally hopeless becomes infused with redemptive meaning.

I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and He heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” – Jonah 2:2

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever: yet has thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.”
– Jonah 2:6

Miraculously, through it all, Leo kept his faith. In fact, the longer he was there, the more his faith grew. Leo cried unto the Lord, and the Lord heard his voice. Now, Stewart Detention Center is by no means a transformative place, but through God’s mercy we have a transformative Savior who can turn a bad situation up-side down & spiritually renovate a prison into a temple; a belly of hell into a womb of worship. Before Leo went into detention, he tells me that he was a poor reader with little desire to pick up a book. While in detention, Leo read the entire New Testament, half of the Book of Mormon and a book called “The Power of a Praying Wife”. All of these books, he says, were tools that God was giving him to help him to be a better husband and father for the day which he knew would come when he would be reunited with his beloved family. While inside, he also found a small group of Christians where he found fellowship – Baptists, Catholics, Pentecostals. God was there with him, every step of the way.
Before picking Leo up in Lumpkin, I had discovered that by the time he was released, the next available bus to West Virginia would not be until 5:30 pm the next day. So, I decided to host Leo at El Refugio until his Greyhound departure. At the house, the first thing Leo did was to call his wife Shanna and speak with her and their two young girls for longer than he had in well over a year. We ate a modest meal together consisting of left-over food from the fridge, followed by hours of delightful companionship. Leo was enthusiastic to share with me many highlighted scriptures which he had discovered during his time in prison. After a lengthy Bible study, Leo offered a closing prayer where he poured out his heart in thanksgiving to our Deliverer, over and over again. By the time we went to sleep, much to our surprise, it was 3 am!
In the morning, shortly after waking, the two young Mormon missionaries who had also visited Leo in detention showed up at El Refugio. I had called them the night before and left a voice-mail telling them that Leo was released and invited them to come by the house to have one last visit with him before he boarded the bus. It was so good for us all to fellowship with Leo in the comfortable freedom of El Refugio, without hostile guards, time constraints, thick glass windows and phones with poor audio quality.
Soon, our circle of camaraderie was enlarged to include house leader, P.J. Edwards, and his group of four. P.J.’s group came to the house to meet with two government agents (who would arrive later in the day) from Homeland Security’s civil liberties department, to give them a tour and explain to them the mission of El Refugio. The day just continued to get more and more interesting as it progressed! It was especially good to witness P.J. interact with Leo and then the Mormons. P.J. asked the missionaries if they would be interested in partnering with El Refugio with future work projects or to visit other men in detention now that Leo had been set free. They enthusiastically said they would! I observed at this point that there were now Catholics, Mormons and Mennonites crammed into our engorged living room space, spilling into the hallway. There was no proselytizing at all, just diverse Christians joyfully frolicking in the love of God.
I wondered what would happen when we added two Homeland Security folks into this cocktail of people. Would it be chaos or the Kingdom of Heaven? It turned out to be the latter. When they arrived I listened in as P.J. gave them a tour of the house and a description of the ministry. I soon realized that these two agents seemed to be authentically concerned about human rights and conditions inside Stewart Detention Center.
P.J. introduced everyone in the house, and when he identified Leo as someone who just got released from a lengthy stay in detention, the government agents seemed to perk up with interest. They eventually asked me if I would ask Leo if he would be comfortable getting interviewed by them. Leo said he would gladly share about his experiences, and so all of us moved back into the living room. I was so impressed with the way Leo articulated details about unjust conditions inside Stewart Detention Center with honesty and grace. For example, when Leo expressed his frustrations about the chronic disrespectfulness of the guards, he was quick to point out that there were a few exceptions – a few guards who were kind and compassionate.
I then shared with them my aggravation about how woefully unhelpful the staff is at Stewart Detention Center; they often hardly ever answer the phone, and when they do, nobody there seems to be able to answer the simplest questions. The agents expressed their goals about inspecting detention centers to report on how humane the living conditions are. They asked Leo specific questions about potential mistreatment, healthcare, food quality, legal access, etc. They invited him to share and to call them later to convey more information by phone if he should remember additional particulars.
At the end of it all, I was convinced that the right people with listening ears and genuine hearts had asked the right questions to the right person and heard the blunt truth about the deplorable situations that Leo had endured. While I was driving Leo to the Columbus bus station, he confided in me about how good it felt to air his grievances with people he thought could really make a difference for other guys inside. He said it felt therapeutic and healing to get those things off his chest after so many months of no one from Stewart Detention Center either listening or caring.
My extended time at El Refugio gave me the opportunity to do some theological reflection. A prison is a type of hell, and yet, the Psalmist tells us that even when we make our bed in hell, God is there (Psalm 139:8). I wouldn’t want to make my bed at Stewart Detention Center. When I hear of the loud, over-crowded, narrow bunk-bed situation in there, I know I would find it very hard to sleep in those conditions. Sometimes we make our own beds in the hells of our own making. Sometimes we find ourselves in prison discriminatorily. Sometimes, we voluntarily enter for the sake of those who are imprisoned there. When Christ entered into the timeless state between crucifixion and resurrection, he went and preached the gospel to the spirits in prison (1 Peter 3:19 & 4:6). The redemptive process is not limited to this earth-time. Experientially, hell is the place where God is not. Yet, in Reality, there is no place where God is not.
God is everywhere, even in Stewart Detention Center; even in hell. Christ, in that state of perpetual timelessness, drop-kicks into pieces the gates of Hades, flooding every dark corner of every prison cell with the divine light of His presence. He is perpetually flooding every sub-atomic particle of spirit-prison with the good-news gospel of God’s love. He is perpetually liberating us from the hells of our own creation. Leo had no desire to spend another second in that abusive prison in Lumpkin and every desire to get out of there and back with his family. And yet, when Leo discovered that God was indeed inside there with him, that place had ceased to be a hell for him. Inside, he discovered a deep love for scripture, friendship with other Christians and that divine communion with the One True Companion who never leaves us. Ultimately …God is realized by all as the ALL in ALL.

“God will seek us – how long? Until He finds us. And when He’s found the last little shriveling rebellious soul and has depopulated hell, then death will be swallowed up in victory, and Christ will turn over all things to the Father that He may be all and in all. Then every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
– Clarence Jordan

When we arrived at the bus station, I went in to help Leo get his ticket. As we were standing in line, I realized how much I would miss my visitations with Leo and yet how overjoyed I was that he was leaving Georgia, and moving back into the loving embrace of his family in West Virginia. When back in W.V., the Pineda family would be attending the same LDS (Mormon) church that my parents and extended Thornburgh Clan go to. For so many reasons, I knew that our paths would most likely cross again. As we said our good-byes, we agreed to meet together again sometime soon on my parent’s farm in West Virginia for a fire-side & barbeque. As I hugged Leo good-bye, I noticed a large Hispanic man coming over toward us. The man asked us, “Hey, by any chance, do either of you know where a place called Stewart Detention Center is? I’m supposed to be picking up my nephew, who is being released today, but when I call the detention center, no one there will even pick up the phone!” Before giving the man some guidance, Leo and I couldn’t help but to glance at each other with huge grins on our faces.

Easter Passover Celebration Documentary (2012)

Posted: 12th April 2012 by nash in Video

Easter Passover Celebration Documentary (2012)
This is a short documentary about a celebration hosted in Americus, GA. before Easter.

Read Nash’s statement to Judge Faircloth

Posted: 2nd April 2012 by nash in Nash

Nash’s Statement to Judge Faircloth Columbus Georgia January 25, 2005

Honorable Judge Faircloth,

I wasn’t planning to jump over the fence when I came to Columbus, GA. I was just planning to be just a message holder in clown make-up.
Saturday morning, as I walked around listening to people about th Latin American issues a thought came to me… a thought of emptiness. I asked myself many times what was I doing for Latin American people except carrying a banner, dressed up as a clown. Thoughts of jumping th fence seemed more and more and more meaningful. As the music played on stage I looked at the crowd of thousands that came from thousands of places around the earth and thought to myself… “I have to do something.” My statement became more real, more satisfying. This banner I carry each year to many demonstrations became necessary—I never felt so right in all my life as I did at this very moment.
I was ready to make a spiritual commitment to jump this symbolic fence. This wasn’t just a fence, this was for all those people that were killed, are being killed, and who are being displaced from their homes. These families have lived there for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. This is a spiritual journey not for everyone. This unique journey was meant for me only.
There was now no question why, but where I should jump the fence on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday came, I was dressed in my uniform as any soldier for war. My approach wasn’t for war but for making a statement: a nonviolent, civilly disobedient statement. This banner “Study War No More” is my flag to freedom—a new beginning for me and for everyone that agrees or disagrees.
Study War No More is my bible of hope that I never had before. This Clown, this make-up I wear is a reflection of sadness!! The colors on my face:
Whiteface white letters are the tens of thousands of crosses that protestors carry, representing human beings that were killed in Latin America.
Red is the blood that is shed in those human beings’ lives.
Blue is the billions and billions of tears families have cried for their families, homes and land which has been taken from them.
Black stands for oppression and death.
Purple—for solidarity and a commitment to close down the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation and any school that teaches premeditated murder against human beings.
Everything about me now is to encourage solutions for Peace, whether I wear the make-up or not.
The hat that I wear that says “PEACE KNOWS” is a spirit that’s stronger than the word PEACE by itself. Peace has been twisted, lied to, manipulated, premeditated, diluted, commercialized and sold out in my clown interpretation world new English dictionary. Peace Knows is a stronger commitment to a world without war, abuse, prejudice, takeovers, prisons, oppression, control, etc., etc., etc.
Peace Knows has no boundaries. It’s a meaning that comes from God over Peace.

Learned behavior
War in any society leaves hidden casualties with pain so deep that we, as citizens, fail to recognize it. As long as “We the People” have a school that teaches premeditated planned murder, I believe the same behavior will trickle down in our society. War teaches tactics to children, especially poor children who don’t have the same rights as the wealthy. I don’t believe they know the difference until they’re taught.
Try explaining to a poor young woman or man why he or she shouldn’t use military money to receive an education or to make a living when all other avenues are closed, while our military teaches Latin American soldiers “skills” to kill thousands of people not in the name of democracy and freedom, but for the benefit of the wealthy both there and here.
The SOA at Fort Benning teaches premeditated murder, that’s why I jumped the fence in an act of non-violent civil disobedience.
The School of the Americas, now known as the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation, should be shut down today.
This school, from its very beginning, has led a history of a Trail of Tears for Indians. Now the same thing is going on in Latin America.
We’ve become a war democracy that models war values for all people of the earth. War is taught subliminally through TV, history, video games and Hollywood. We teach kids to admire generals when they instead should admire those who found peaceful solutions.
War is an addiction for some parts of our government… and now war is all we have…
To show the world that “In God We Trust,” our government should begin to “Study War No More.”
Closing down the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation would be a start.

God help America and the World!!!