1957 - Jessie Bond: 'I saw his greatness'

By John Bond

Jessie Bond 1945


During the Second World War, my father served in tough places – behind the enemy lines in Burma, then amidst the brutal conflicts in Waziristan on what was then the border between India and Afghanistan. It was harsh treatment for a sensitive young man just out of university and he paid a price. His explosive temper in the following years was probably a symptom of what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jessie Bond 1945
Jessie Bond, 1945
Reg Bond 1945
Reg Bond, 1945

My mother found this hard to endure. Trained as a doctor, she had been drafted into the army and sent to India. There she met my father and they married at the end of the war. By 1957, struggling to cope with four children and her husband’s frequent outbursts, she was seriously thinking of leaving him. That year they went to Caux.

A conference was in full swing, and they lived into it all, though my mother was still wrestling with her despair. One morning she was in their room, taking time in quiet. My father was out on the balcony, looking out over the Lake of Geneva. They could hear a Muslim participant saying his prayers in a nearby room. Perhaps this reminded her of the happy times of their engagement and marriage in what is now Pakistan.

I saw his greatness, and I knew I would never leave him.

Whatever it was, as my father stepped back into the room, my mother told me that she suddenly saw him in a new light. Whereas she had been preoccupied with his faults, now – as she described it – ‘I saw his greatness, and I knew I would never leave him’.


Bond family with German and British friends, Berlin 1961
The Bond family with German and British friends, Berlin 1961


She learnt not to let his explosions depress her. And there were less of them, as my father discovered a new peace of heart. There was greater harmony in our home. This made a considerable impression on me, at the age of seven.

In the following years my father, still serving as an army officer, had his full share of stressful and dangerous assignments. But he coped with them differently. His Christian faith was real to him, and his love for my mother, and hers for him, was unshakeable. Probably this was a considerable factor in my decision, as a young man, to devote myself to the work of MRA – as it was known then – and Initiatives of Change. I knew first-hand that wounds of the spirit could be healed.


Reg and Jessie Bond 1984 in the Orkney Islands
Jessie and Reg Bond, 1984

I doubt if I could have coped, had I not seen my parents cope.

In my work I have taken part in numerous initiatives which have helped reconcile communities in conflict, and advance social justice. None of this has happened easily. I have had to face setbacks and challenges of many kinds, sometimes with traumatic events.

I doubt if I could have coped, had I not seen my parents cope. During their married life they worked in 10 countries on four continents. They faced hardship, danger and disease, but never lost their zest for life, and their spirit of appreciation which built warm friendships across cultural differences.

Caux played its role in this, and I will forever be grateful.


John Bond

John Bond is the Secretary of Initiatives of Change International. He lives in Oxford, England, and has worked with Initiatives of Change in over 30 countries. For five years he coordinated the Caux Forum for Human Security. Previously he was the Secretary of Australia’s National Sorry Day Committee, which enlisted a million Australians in initiatives to overcome the harm done to Aboriginal Australians by cruel and misguided past policies. For this he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. He is also a writer. His most recent book, a biography of Professor Jerzy Zubrzycki, known as 'the father of Australian multiculturalism', has been published in English and Polish. His next book, Sorry and Beyond, co-authored with Aboriginal leader Brian Butler, tells the story of the Sorry Day campaign and will be published next month.





This story is part of our series 75 Years of Stories about individuals who found new direction and inspiration through Caux, one for each year from 1946 to 2021. If you know a story appropriate for this series, please do pass on your ideas by email to John Bond or Yara Zhgeib. If you would like to know more about the early years of Initiatives of Change and the conference centre in Caux please click here and visit the platform For A New World.


All photos: John Bond



Featured Story
Event Categories
75 stories 75th anniversary

related stories

Cigdem Song of Asia square

1969: Çigdem Bilginer – ‘I was not the centre of the universe any more’

Militant Turkish student Çigdem Bilginer arrived in Caux in 1969 dissatisfied after taking part in student riots against the establishment and the Americans. ‘The American ambassador’s car was burned ...

Ramez Salame credit: Inner Change

1968: Ramez Salame – ‘I gave away my gun’

Ramez Salamé was a 21-year-old law student from Beirut, Lebanon, when he took part in a leadership training course for young people in Caux – a precursor of the scores of similar programmes which have...

Teame Mebrahtu photo: John Bond

1967: Teame Mebrahtu – ‘It’s immaterial where I live’

Teame Mebrahtu came to Caux in 1967, five years after his homeland of Eritrea was annexed by Ethiopia. The liberation struggle – which was to continue for three decades – was gaining momentum. Resentm...

Buth Diu (photo Arthur Strong)

1966: Buth Diu – Not who is right but what is right

In 1966, a senior Sudanese politician, Buth Diu, presented the London headquarters of Moral Re-Armament (now Initiatives of Change) with spears and a hippotamus leather shield, as a token of his desir...

Robert Carmichael and Indian

1965: Robert Carmichael - Industry which puts people first

In 1965, the first freely negotiated agreement between industrialized and developing nations on the price of a raw material was signed in Rome. This pioneering accord was in large part the work of an ...

Muriel Smith

1963: Muriel Smith – A voice for racial healing

Near the coffee bar in the Caux Palace stands a grand piano, the gift of American mezzo-soprano Muriel Smith. She was a familiar face at Caux conferences in the 1960s, filling the meeting hall and the...

Walking Buffalo portrait

1962: Chief Walking Buffalo – Respect and protect Mother Earth

In 1962, a documentary about a remarkable 62,000-mile journey was premiered in Caux. Two years before, Chief Walking Buffalo of the Nakoda (Stoney) Nation and Chief David Crowchild of the Tsuut’ina (S...

Daw Nyein Tha (from Joyful revolutionary) square

1964: Daw Nyein Tha – ‘When I point my finger at my neighbour’

You never knew who you might meet in the Caux kitchens in the 1960s. The kitchen which prepared dishes for Asian guests was presided over by a small Burmese woman in her 60s. Few would have guessed th...

Patrick Colquhoun

1961 - Patrick Colquhoun: ‘That week changed my life’

‘Papers about Moral Re-Armament (now Initiatives of Change) sent to me by a friend over the previous three years invariably ended in the bin,’ wrote Patrick Colquhoun. But his first visit at the confe...

Marcel Grandy and Archbishop Makarios

1960 - Cyprus: 'Hope never dies'

There are few problems in the world that have not found some echo in the conferences and encounters in Caux since 1946. In 1960 Cyprus gained its independence, after several years of sometimes violent...

Lennart Segerstrale

1959 – Lennart Segerstråle: ‘Art must be dangerous to evil’

In 1959, a vast fresco was unveiled on the wall of the dining room of the Caux Palace. Its creator, the Finnish artist Lennart Segerstråle, chose the universal image of water to represent his vision o...

Caux school 4

1958 - Angela Elliott: At school in Caux

Angela Cook (later Elliott) arrived in Caux in 1958, aged four. She was one of some 40 children who lived in Caux at different times between 1955 and 1965, attending a small chalet school just up the ...

Freedom scene square

1955 - Freedom: 'Do you think you could write a play?'

‘We were catapulted into history,’ said Manasseh Moerane, one of the writers of Freedom. The play was seen by 30,000 people all over Europe and demand was so great that they decided to make a film. Fr...