SOON Online Magazine


On Easter Sunday morning in 1996, the RECONCILIATION WALK started from Cologne in Germany. It was 900 years ago that the first Crusade started off from this very place.

A large group of Christians have started to march along the routes taken by the Crusade soldiers many years ago. They will travel along different routes, through former Yugoslavia, to reach Istanbul, Turkey, in the Autumn.

As they walk along the route, they will pray at different places, and ask forgiveness from Moslems that they meet, for the actions of the soldiers in the Crusades 900 years ago.

The Crusaders committed many atrocities against Arabs, and also Jews, over a period of 200 years. It is even worse that they did these things in the name of the so-called Christian religion, and these things have never been forgotten.

Lynn Green, the leader of the march, reported:

As we walked, the highlight of the day was a visit to a Turkish Mosque and teaching centre in Cologne. The previous day, a local Christian had contact the Imam. He gave him a printed message of apology and asked if we could visit the Mosque.

We were welcomed into a spacious room of prayer where about 200 men and boys gathered. The women and girls stayed in an adjoining room, but the Imam instructed them to read the message too.

When everyone was settled on the carpet, the Imam welcomed us. Then I explained that we had come to apologise for the atrocities committed in the name of Christ during the Crusades. The reading of the message of apology in German, Turkish and English was greeted with loud sustained clapping.

Then the Imam, who can speak all three languages, said,

"When I heard the nature of your message, I was astonished and filled with hope. I thought to myself, 'Whoever had this idea must have had an epiphany, a visit from God Himself.' It is my wish that this project should become a very great success."

Then he told me privately that many Muslims were beginning to examine their sins against Christians and Jews. He said that our example would show them how to act, about the sins of the past. He promised to send the message out to their 250 Mosques in Europe.

At the time of the Crusades, the people of Cologne rose up and destroyed all the Jewish population. So later in the day, we paused near the Synagogue and prayed for blessing and healing.

At SOON, we also share in this offer of shame and apology to all Muslims.

Text of the apology
Nine hundred years ago, our forefathers carried the name of Jesus Christ in battle across the Middle East. Fuelled by fear, greed and hatred, they betrayed the name of Christ by conducting themselves in a manner contrary to His wishes and character. The Crusaders lifted the banner of the Cross above your people. By this act, they corrupted its true meaning of reconciliation, forgiveness and selfless love.

On the anniversary of the first Crusade, we also carry the name of Christ. We wish to retrace the footsteps of the Crusaders in apology for their deeds and in demonstration of the true meaning of the Cross. We deeply regret the atrocities committed in the name of Christ by our predecessors. We renounce greed, hatred and fear, and condemn all violence done in the name of Jesus Christ.

Where they were motivated by hatred and prejudice, we offer love and brotherhood. Jesus the Messiah came to give life. Forgive us for allowing His name to be associated with death. Please accept again the true meaning of the Messiah's words:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour." As we go, we bless you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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