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Daniel DeWalt

Daniel DeWalt is a partner in the law firm Goff & DeWalt, Vice President of the non-profit organization Restore International, and recent author of a book entitled High Octane Marriage. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from California State University in Psychology and Philosophy, then went on to get a Master’s in Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and a second Master’s in Systems Theory from Pacific Lutheran University. He earned is Juris Doctor degree from California Western School of Law. Restore International has most prominently worked in Northern Uganda, fighting for reconciliation and restoration among communities negatively affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Restore International started a tuition-free school where students are taught traditional subjects, leadership skills and biblical truths.
Interview by Olivia Godt
April 2012

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” -- Galatians 3:15

Many have said that peace is not just the absence of conflict but the presence of justice. I think peace goes much further than that. Peace is probably a continuum. Perhaps at its very onset, peace is a political distinction that confirms the absence of war or conflict as in the term "peace time." Midway, justice presents itself and peace becomes a social distinction. But to me, true peace comes from God and is a personal and spiritual distinction. Peace in its fullness transforms the human heart. I believe this is the ultimate form of peace because, all other forms of peace will necessarily follow but the opposite is not true. Political and social peace will only be temporary if true peace has not taken place in the heart.

In both my job as a lawyer and as a leader of Restore International, pursuing peace is really all I do. As a lawyer my job is to bring conflict resolution, solve problems and restore justice -- I often am trying to help people find peace, inner peace. At Restore, I am first and foremost seeking to train young Ugandans the truth of God-given peace so that they can be leaders of peace and justice. The most powerful tool I have found in helping others find peace is to be a person of peace. People can smell it. If you are not at peace, people will know and there will be no power or fruit for helping them with peace or justice.

There is a method in Northern Uganda, mato aput, for establishing peace and justice which has been most poignant for me. It is a process where two people resolve their differences by drinking the percolation of a bitter root and declaring forgiveness and making restitution.  In the context of Northern Uganda, mato aput has been used to reunite child soldiers with their communities even though they participated in atrocities provoked by the LRA including the murder of many within that community and possibly their own family. Once mato aput has occurred, the matter is settled and the offender is deemed a full member restored to the community as if nothing had ever happened. Powerful.

This and other methods of creatively gaining reconciliation are needed to become persons who effectively promote peace. But first, peace must be found within oneself. The power of a single life should never be underestimated. David, Elijah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Debra, Esther, these individuals had exponential impact because of what God had done within them. Once this was at play, then God could work through them for peace. Without God working in them and through them, they were nothing. The topic of peace often gets us all thinking globally and then we start to feel insignificant in promoting peace. We must start with our heart and let God work in us and through us. Then it is the power of God that is working for peace.

Ultimately, My faith is my definition and understanding of peace. Any other kind of definition is human and falls short of God's design for true peace. Often God's truths are counterintuitive and counter-cultural and counter-academia. But God's peace is eternal and life-giving and other forms simply fall short.
Jesus said, "My peace I leave with you, not as the world gives do I give to you."  Jn 14”