Missional Practitioners In-Residence | Fall 2010
David and Lenuta Chronic - Word Made Flesh
"During the 2010 fall semester, the George Fox University Center for Peace and Justice and the Office for Spiritual Life hosted us as "Missional Practitioners In-Residence." The purpose of this sabbatical was to withdraw from the community and ministry with which we have been involved for the last 13 years in Romania.
At George Fox we met some amazing people among the faculty and students. We were invited to speak in a number of different classes and meetings. We shared some reflections from our life in Romania at a Peace and Justice Symposium and we were able to tag along to a couple student retreats. We spent much of our time in the library, trying to flip through as many books as we could. (The library was especially beneficial for David's research for his MA program.)
The surroundings of George Fox were absolutely beautiful and we enjoyed jogging through the gardens, vineyards and orchards. We participated in a conference on Play Therapy and some courses on cognitive development. We simply tried to enjoy each day as it came."
-David and Lenuta Chronic
- My Peace Testimony
Jesus says, “Blessed are the peace-makers.” Sadly, my first reaction to conflict, division and injustice is not usually peace but anger. Thankfully, my community helps me allay my anger and to cultivate actions rooted in love.
My wife Lenuta and I participate in an organization called Word Made Flesh. Although peace, justice, and reconciliation are part of our ethos, they are not explicitly named as elements of our core values. What we do name as one of our defining marks is “community,” which implies peace, justice, and reconciliation.
In Galati, an industrial city in eastern Romania, our community is postured as a sign of peace in the midst of Orthodox Christian and Neo-Protestant tensions, Romanian and Roma violence, and wealthy and poor divisions. We are situated in a historically impoverished neighborhood in which we have made friendships across religious, ethnic, and economic lines. Here we attempt to respond on a daily basis to the wounds of broken and disenfranchised children and families. By addressing violence and injustices and by building healthy relationships, we pray that the seeds of peace are sown and nourished.
But when faced with conflict, my anger often gets the better of me. I am angry at the mutual exclusion of the different Christian traditions. I am angry at the entrenched racism and the self-victimization. I am angry at the patterns of abuse, neglect, and disempowerment. Of course,
I can justify my anger as being “righteous,” but if I am honest, I realize that the anger feels good and gives me an illusion of control.
While anger seems like a knee-jerk reflex to conflict around me, the spiritual practices of my community prepare me and enable me to respond in love. Each morning we sit together in worship, prayer, silence, and Scripture reading. By focusing on the God who is love and who makes peace without violence, my vision, attitude, and actions are disciplined and directed towards love and peace. Although the cultivation of peace in my life is a long and continuous process and fraught with many failings, I have seen how our commitment to cultivate a community that is rooted in God’s life and presence leads to gestures of peace-making. Let me offer one example.
A few years back on a cool October day, I was watching the sun go down on our soccer game as I returned from the open market with two sacks full of groceries. I heard screaming and saw commotion, but I did not know what was causing the upheaval. I set the dinner food down and ran to the crowd of children who live on the streets. I found Ionuts cornered to the fence by a gang of teenagers who were beating him up. The reason for their aggression was simply that Ionuts was a “street child”, someone they considered lesser than themselves and easy prey for what they thought was a good time. The rest of the children from the streets and the volunteer workers did not know how to intervene except by shouting their protest. Without thinking, I walked into the middle of the gang and shielded Ionuts with my body. With my back to the belligerent teens, I looked Ionuts in the eye and tried to calm him as he screamed worthless threats at his attackers. Fortunately, the boys departed as quickly as they had jumped him. Unfortunately, Ionuts was bleeding through his cut eye, mouth and nose. He grabbed his glue bag and cried justice through the soothing intoxication.
While I was overwhelmed by my powerlessness to help Ionuts’ immediate pain, I was presently surprised that I didn’t respond to aggression with aggression. Certainly this small act of peace-making spoke love to Ionuts as well as to his attackers and the bystanders. Although violence seems to evoke my own violence from within, at least in this instance I could see how our community’s spiritual practices shape and enable actions that are non-violent in the face of violence. And as we see God work in us and change us, our daily prayer is not only to become signs of peace; we also pray that victims of violence like Ionuts experience God’s healing, justice, and reconciliation.
Points of Continued Connection
June 2012 -June Serve Romania and Moldova 2012 was made up of 11 students, and two leaders - including CPJ director Clint Baldwin. Their work and time in Romania was discussed by several local news sources.
The team of students worked alongside members of the organization Word Made Flesh, assisting in various community service activities. Students had the chance to spend a week in a homestay situation with a local family in order to get an even more intimate look at the daily lives of many Romanians.
Romanian News Article links below: (in Romanian - use translating resource such as Google Translate to interpret text.)
March 2012 - George Fox is sending a team of students on a "June Serve" trip to Romania and Moldova to partner with Word Made Flesh and David and Lenuta. The trip will be co-led by CPJ/CGS director Clint Baldwin and Margi Felix-Lund, a GFU alumna who previously served with WMF in Argentina.
Click the links below to view videos of David speaking about the work of Word Made Flesh in Romania and Moldova.
Kelsey Vanden Hoek, a Junior Social Work student, traveled to Romania and Moldova to conduct research for a Richter Scholarship, a research grant awarded by George Fox. Kelsey worked alongside Word Made Flesh and the Chronics. Click to read more about her research.
Tami Ankeny, a former Area Coordinator for GFU, spent several months during the Fall of 2011 as an Intern with Word Made Flesh in Galati, Romania. Click to read more about her experience.
Articles by David
Chronic, David. (November, 2011) Towards Community, The Cry. Retrieved from: http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/
Article originally as: Chronic, David. (Summer 2000). Towards Community: A Word from a Director – from David Chronic Director of Community Development, The Cry, 6(2), pp. 1 and 14. Retrieved from: http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/
Chronic, David. (November, 2011) Beyond Simplicity, The Cry. Retrieved from: http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/the-cry/beyond-simplicity/
Article originally as: Chronic, David. (Spring 2001). Beyond Simplicity, The Cry, 7(1), pp. 6 and 14. Retrieved from: http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/files/2009/04/spring2001.pdf
Chronic, David. (December, 2009) The Servant Nature of God, The Cry. Retrieved from: http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/the-cry/the-servant-nature-of-god/
Article originally as: Chronic, David. (Winter 2009) The Servant Nature of God, The Cry. Retrieved from: http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/files/2009/04/wmf-winter-2009-cry.pdf
Chronic, David. (May 6, 2009) What Do We Mean by "The Church"?, The Cry. Retrieved from: http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/the-cry/the-cry-vol-12-no-3/church/
Article originally as: Chronic, David. (Fall 2006) What Do We Mean by "The Church"?, The Cry, 12(3) & 12(4). Retrieved from: http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/files/2009/04/fall2006.pdf and http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/files/2009/04/winter2006.pdf
Chronic, David. (May, 2009) What Do We Mean by "Evangelism"?, The Cry. Retrieved from: http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/the-cry/the-cry-vol-9-no-4/evangelism/
Chronic, David. (May, 2009) What Do We Mean by "The Kingdom of God"?, The Cry. Retrieved from: http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/the-cry/the-cry-vol-11-no-2/what-do-we-mean-by-the-kingdom-of-god/
Chronic, David. (Summer 2000). Humility in Humiliation, The Cry, 6(2), 1 & 14. Retrieved from: http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/
For more articles by David please visit David's profile on the Word Made Flesh website.