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When Shane Claiborne was in Baghdad during the initial stages of the Iraqi war as a civilian and peacemaker, he attended a birthday party for a girl whose family he had become friends with. She was turning 13. (I told the story last week of Shane’s harrowing escape from Baghdad in the midst of bombs going off as they raced across the Iraqi desert).

The friends and family gathered in a nearby part where they had a feast. They played games and ran around in circles until they fell over. At one point, they began playing balloon volleyball when bombs began exploding in the background. The adults looked at one another with fear and uneasiness but not wanting to scare the kids, they kept playing. Then an explosion went off nearby. The adults huddled with the kids to protect them with their bodies.

Shane looked into the eyes of the young teenage birthday who told him with such an incredible amount of courage, “It’s okay. Don’t be scared.” Then she smacked Shane on the head with a balloon. These children were raised hearing bombs going still wanted to play with people whose country was destroying theirs. When asked what she wished for as she blew out her candles, she answered without any coaching, “Peace.” She hoped for and perhaps believed that maybe one day people would stop trying to kill each other. “And a little child will lead them.”