Many of you will be aware that in June 2007, I was involved in disrupting Operation Talisman Sabre, a series of military exercises involving over 30,000 Australian and US troops. Along with four friends (Simon Reeves, Carole Powell, Sarah Williams, Krystal Spencer), I walked onto the Samuel Hill Air Base in the Shoalwater Bay Military Area in Queensland, to invite military personnel to trade in their war games for peace games. After spending an hour and a half with the troops, we were arrested and charged with trespassing (without lawful excuse) on Commonwealth land. More information about our action can be found at http://samuelhill5.blogspot.com/.
Those of you who have been following the (seemingly interminable) court processes will be relieved to know that today the four of us who pleaded not guilty received the date of our trial. We will front the Yeppoon Magistrates Court on April 24th 2008. Having already signed and submitted a formal admission of our presence on the base, we intend to argue that we had lawful excuse for doing so. While the chances of such an argument succeeding are slim, we plan to take the same spirit of transforming hopefulness, joy and peace into the courtroom that we took with us into the military zone.
If you’re of the praying persuasion, please pray that the truth would be spoken and known on that day. Pray for boldness and courage, for peace and the presence of Christ in our words and actions.
For those who follow the church year, our trial date falls on the feast day of St Fidelis of Sigmaringen, who paid the ultimate price for refusing to renounce his beliefs (ironically, at the hands of my fellow Protestants). He died praying, as Jesus did, “Pardon my enemies, O Lord: blinded by passion they know not what they do.” May we all, like Jesus, have the courage to renounce violence even when threatened, and learn to love and forgive our enemies.