Taking Radical, Bold Steps: They Apologized for the Crusades

(This true story is from YWAM Frontier Missions)

There are times when offenses are so severe and wounds so deep they last for centuries. Individuals, families, communities, and nations are unable to listen to the Good News. This is true of the Crusades, one of the great offenses of history. Lynn Green, a key leader and early pioneer in YWAM, felt led by the Lord to humble himself and take appropriate action. About 2,500 people joined with him. Lynn tells us how the story unfolded:

Finally, I came face to face with my nightmare. We were somewhere beside a road in Southern Lebanon. I was staring at a young man who already had years of experience as a Hezbollah fighter. 

Nearly ten years earlier I received a letter. It came to me because I was a leader of the movement, March for Jesus. It suggested we should sponsor a prayer walk down the route of the Crusades. I dismissed that idea as being outside our assignment and too dangerous to consider.  Yet, just a few months later my view changes. It seemed clear to me that God had intervened in my life. He gave me literal marching orders to undertake the project. 

Reconciliation Walk

After nearly five years of preparation, the Reconciliation Walk was ready to begin. We started from Cologne, Germany on Easter Sunday morning in 1996.  That was exactly nine hundred years from the date that Peter the Hermit assembled an army. He and about thirty thousand peasants set out from the same spot.  In fact, as the first few rows of the massive stones of Cologne Cathedral were laid, the first Crusades left. 

We stood next to the same stones, prayed, and began the walk which would take three and a half years.  About two and a half thousand people participated, most of them for about two weeks. Walking each day, we carried a printed apology. We translated the apology into the language of the people we walked amongst. 

From Cologne, we walked up the Rhine river, then down the Danube, and finally across into Turkey.  Then we spent more than two years walking throughout Turkey. Finally, we reached Lebanon in the autumn of 1998. 

Nerve-Wracking Apology Inside A Mosque

My first occasion of delivering an apology was at the very beginning, to a Turkish Imam in a Mosque in Cologne.  It was a nerve-wracking experience standing outside the Mosque. A hundred and twenty people stood behind me, wondering how we would be received. We were finally shown into the Mosque. We met a young Imam who, as it happened, was the senior man for about six hundred Turkish Mosques around Europe.  I nervously read our apology and then he made his response. 

Received With Warmth

He was warm beyond my expectations and spoke of the brilliance of this idea.  He went on to say that whoever had this idea must have had an “epiphany”–an encounter with God Himself. My group and I walked out of the Mosque thrilled. For myself, I was also a bit disappointed. I thought I must have had my most exciting reception on the first day of the walk!

But that did not prove to be the most exciting response.  We experienced similar warmth and enthusiasm week in and week out. We humbled ourselves. We apologized for the atrocities committed in the name of our beloved Jesus Christ. (You can read more at: https://www.ywamfm.org/taking-radical-bold-steps-they-apologized-for-the-crusades/)