Friday, April 7|Stories

Friday Stories: Building Authentic Relationships

A few weeks ago, our newly formed Peace Catalyst Cause-Based Group hosted a community event called a “Peace Feast.” As a Group, we exist to connect with and promote peace between Christian and Muslim communities in San Diego.

Over forty adults, and two dozen children, from Flood joined members of the local community for lunch at a Somali restaurant.


Ahmed Ani, the owner of Café Royale, selected a menu for us that was both traditional, but not too “adventurous” for an American palate. Enjoying these traditional dishes helps us feel more connected to our new friends and their culture – it’s learning and appreciating a part of their heritage and cultural identities.

As part of the event we were honored to hear from our guest speakers Ahmed Sahid, founder of Somali Family Service, and Ahmed Ani, owner of Café Royale, about the Somali Muslim community here in San Diego.

They explained their vision for the refugee community to find home in this city.


This includes spaces like the restaurant, but extends to providing social services and practical resources.

It was humbling to hear from Ani, who fled Somalia with his family when the civil war began. They lived in a Kenyan refugee camp for five years, waiting for the opportunity to move the United States. After graduating from Crawford High School as the valedictorian, Ani received a full scholarship to Stanford University and spent time in the corporate world. But he followed a sense of responsibility to his community and now focuses his time and effort to invest in a new generation of displaced families.

Seeing the restaurant filled to capacity was so encouraging.


Not because we see numbers as the goal, but instead, because we saw it as an indication that the Spirit is stirring in our community, and that people’s hearts are opening to the peace and love Jesus taught in the Gospels.

This first Peace Feast was a way to dip our toes into what God is doing in our communities. As we continue to connect with and learn from our Muslim neighbors, we hope that our next Peace Feast event will include equal number of members from our Christian community and our Muslim neighbors.

Through events like this, we aim to provide a safe space for us to get to know each other, see humanity created in God’s image, and begin building authentic relationships in love.


About the Author:
Cameron and Kelly Perry help lead the Peace Catalyst Group. For more information about the Group and future events like this, contact: [email protected]
Blog Resources:
Somali Family Service –
Café Royale –

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