There came a point where Roger Sanders decided that he’d talked enough about social justice and the importance of doing the right thing. He sensed that his words needed more action, which is how he ended up in war-torn Iraq in June 2005 on a 12-day mission, as he describes it, “a below-the-radar peace network.
“I wanted to make real what I said I believe,” explains Sanders, a 57-year-old lay pastor in the Presbyterian church. A senior partner at Sanders, O’Hanlon & Motley in Sherman, Sanders specializes in business litigation.
An active crusader for social justice among the impoverished in his own community, Sanders traveled to Iraq as part of a Christian Peacemaker Team, a nonprofit organization that works to reduce violence and protect human rights in conflict zones. His group of six Americans (the other five were women) flew to Jordan for two days of training before spending 10 days in and around Baghdad working primarily with local Muslims to build a coalition of small groups that could continue to work on common objectives once the Americans returned home.
“It wasn’t evangelical in any way,” Sanders says. “It grew out of the desire to do more than write letters to soldiers. We talked about common aspirations and common hopes. We asked the locals for help in creating a Muslim peacemaker team.”
Sanders says the trip was a way to “call my own bluffs.
“I had a clear vision that I didn’t want to say what I am not willing to back up with action.” A widower and father of two grown daughters, Sanders says CPT staff instructed him to make amends with loved ones before he left because his return was not guaranteed. “I did not lightly do it, nor did they lightly leave me,” he says of his daughters.
He says his experience has provided a clearer vision of the great strides individuals can make in working toward world peace “one drop of water at a time.”