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The cost of reconciliation: Terry Waite and Hezbollah

To explore the cost of reconciliation through the life of Terry Waite.

by Ronni Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5


To explore the cost of reconciliation through the life of Terry Waite.

Preparation and materials

  • Rehearse two students to play Terry Waite, and Hezbollah chief Ammar Moussawi.
  • Download images of Terry Waite from
  • For the reflection, be ready to project the following two sentences, taken from an interview with Terry Waite on BBC Radio 4: ‘I was the one who suffered in that situation, and I am prepared to put that behind me. I believe that is what everyone has to do if we are going to make progress.’ (See section 7.)
  • A candle and matches.


  1. (Leader introduces the two readers: Reader 1 is Terry Waite; Reader 2 is Hezbollah chief Ammar Moussawi.)

    Reader 1  In 1987 I travelled to Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with Hezbollah, a Shia Muslim group operating in the country, who some at that time would have defined as terrorists.

    They were holding western hostages, and we had heard that the hostages were sick. Perhaps the most well-known of these hostages were John McCarthy and Brian Keenan.

    But when I got there, I was also taken hostage.
  2. Reader 2  We believed that Mr Waite was a CIA agent, sent on behalf of the USA and Iran. We took him hostage, too, and held him for 1,760 days – that’s almost five years.
  3. Reader 1  For the first four years I was held in solitary confinement, shackled to a radiator for much of that time. I was tortured, and experienced a mock execution. It was not looking good.

    After four years, I was unshackled and united for a while with the other hostages. In the last six months I was even given a radio. I listened constantly to the BBC World Service. On my birthday they played a piece of Bach’s organ music, my favourite, which had been requested for me by my family. It brought me such hope!
  4. Leader  In Terry Waite’s fifth year as a hostage, John McCarthy and Brian Keenan were released, and they let the West know that Terry was still alive.
  5. Reader 1  After almost five years, Hezbollah decided to let me go, and I came home. That was 25 years ago.
  6. Leader  But Terry Waite realized that he needed to let go of this experience and be reconciled with those who had held him for so long. In December 2012, he travelled back to the suburbs of southern Beirut (where he had been held captive) to meet up with Hezbollah, who were then part of the Syrian government. The country was in the middle of a civil war that was costing the people dearly.
  7. Reader 1  I didn't feel so bad at all. I said to him, ‘Let’s put the past in the past because in this kind of situation dreadful things happen to all people. Let’s put it in the past. I believe that is what has to happen. If we are going to have major reconciliation, then we need to have a thousand acts of smaller reconciliations. I was the one who suffered in that situation and I am prepared to put that behind me. I believe that is what everyone has to do if we are going to make progress and get reconciliation on the major political level.

    For Church schools
  8. Leader  Christians believe that at Easter Jesus died to reconcile the world to God, – to put behind us all the things that we have done wrong.

    In Terry Waite’s actions, we see him following in the steps of Jesus, even though it must have been at great personal cost.

Time for reflection

(Light a candle, and give the students time to consider the quote.)

How would you cope if you’d been captured and held, tortured and chained like that? Would you be able to offer your hand in friendship to the people who had done that to you?

That is the cost of reconciliation. That is the cost of peace.

Take some time to think about those you don’t get on with.

Who do you harbour a grudge against?

Who won’t you be kind to or friendly with?

What would be the cost to you of reconciliation?

How could you put that behind you?

How can we move on?

You might like to use the following words as a prayer.
Lord God,
give me the strength
the knowledge
the will
to bring reconciliation in my life with those from whom I am estranged.
Help me to put their wrong behind me and begin again.


‘Brother, sister, let me serve you’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 73)

Publication date: March 2013   (Vol.15 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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