Advent’s Eve, 2005

kidnappingBy Tim Nafziger, on the 10th anniversary of the kidnapping of Norman Kember, Harmeet Singh Sooden, Jim Loney and Tom Fox.

On that last day of ordinary time

Norman, Harmeet, Jim and Tom walk across a parking lot

in Baghdad and get into a van.

Years later, Jim can’t remember “those last, unremarkable motions.”

The next morning (the first Sunday of Advent)

The BBC called me at noon.

The voice at the other end of the line was chasing rumors:

We heard that four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams were kidnapped.

What do you know?

What if Christians took the same risks for peace…

The van exits the lot, abruptly stops;

Men with big guns open the door,

shove the four to the floor

and into the tomb.

That soldiers do for war?

Waves broke across our ordinary time:

Across the tapestry of CPT

Arriving through phone lines wet with tears

at those four threads ripped away from so many


What do I know?


Lives sown together with soft words and shared food:

Fresh fish from the Opon river at dawn,

warm stew beneath the trees of Treaty 3 land,

falafel and pita just beyond Damascus gate on the northern wall

and hundreds of cheese sandwiches in Chicago

What do you know?

After three days of frenetic silence

Al-Jazeera showed a video from the Swords of Righteousness Brigade

with our four friends:

frayed, cut, standing in the light

What do we know?

Our cheek turning footsteps behind that foolish fisherman

Our naive refusal to bow down before the AK-47

Our “hobnobbing with the Sunni extremists”

Splashed across the headlines.


Yet the first candle is lit.

We wait.


Tim Nafziger was a reservist with Christian Peacemaker Teams living in London in 2005 during the kidnapping of Norman Kember, Harmeet Singh Sooden, Jim Loney and Tom Fox. He wrote this poem for the 10th anniversary of the date they were taken.


Quote 1: From p. 13 of “Captivity: 118 Days in Iraq and the Struggle for a World Without War” by James Loney, Vintage Canada Trade, 2012

Quote 2: From “Kember deserved to be kidnapped, says Tim Collins” by Thomas Harding, The Telegraph, 10 May 2006 Available at

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