When the British peace activist Norman Kember was kidnapped in Iraq along with three other men, the world waited to hear what their fate would be. More than a month later and the passing of two assassination deadlines there is little news of the man from Pinner.

Valerie Flessati, an honorary member of Pax Christi, hesitates when asked what the future holds for the 74-year-old. "I don't know," she says.

Ms Flessati, who is in her 50s, knows Mr Kember through their mutual work with the Catholic group.

Although Mr Kember was not working with Pax Christi when he was kidnapped, the international peace organisation with its British headquarters in Hendon has proved particularly vocal during his captivity. The group knew Mr Kember as a devoted trustee of its education fund, and its members have been campaigning and praying for his release.

Mr Kember, American Tom Fox, 54, and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, were abducted by The Swords of Truth in Baghdad on November 26 and then paraded in front of the world's TV cameras, but six weeks on, little is known about this group.

The quartet had travelled to Iraq as a gesture of solidarity' with Canada-based international peace group Christian Peacemaker Teams, but were kidnapped and accused of spying.

Pax Christi, which means Peace of Christ, was founded in France in 1945 to push for reconciliation with Germany after the horrors of the Second World War. The message spread, and it is currently represented in about 30 countries, with its main headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. It is based on the gospel and inspired by faith' and believes in the power of prayer, reconciliation, forgiveness, justice and non-violence'.

While the power of prayer is perceived as fundamental, the organisation also takes practical steps to spread its message. The Christian Peace Education Fund was set up in 1984, of which Mr Kember has been a trustee for the past three years. The fund aims to support and promote Pax Christi's education work in schools by providing talks, leaflets and pamphlets explaining its mission.

A peace vigil was held last Thursday night in Trafalgar Square for Mr Kember, which was attended by Muslim and Christian faith groups. Ms Flessati said: "It is about co-operation between Muslim and Christian groups, and it has been wonderful. We work with many different organisations."

The group has vowed to hold a vigil every week until Mr Kember is released, in an attempt to keep his plight in the public eye.

Ms Flessati does not believe that Mr Kember's situation will cast doubt on the faithful. "It makes you question how you do what you do, but it doesn't make me doubt that it is the right thing to do," she says. "How we do it, though this can be reflected upon to improve our methods.

"But faith helps immensely. We try to remain confident that they will be released. They were messengers of peace, working to reach and talk to ordinary Iraqi people.

"Norman is a very thoughtful person. He will be trying to communicate with the people holding him. He and the others are about peace, not hatred, not war. He will be trying to talk to them to let them know this. He is for the Iraqi people. He is on their side.

"Norman knew the risks when he went to Iraq. He went on a journey that is his and it was a personal decision.

"We pray for him to be released, because he was there for peace."

Ms Flessati, who grew up in Finchley but now lives in Venetia Road, Finsbury Park, became involved with Pax Christi as an idealistic student. "I was full of energy and enthusiasm, as I still am," she says. "I wanted to make a difference. I joined some activities for young people and it really took off from there."

Youth schemes have always been an integral part of the work: groups of young people in their summer holidays volunteer to go on treks, with the climax of the trip a peace assembly, where up to 300 children gather. For many young people, this is their first experience of an international event.

Violence, from street crime to the arms trade, is also a problem the group attempts to tackle, through educating children within schools, as well as lobbying for nuclear disarmament and controls on the supply of guns to other countries.

"We want to encourage a climate of non-violence," Ms Flessati says. "It creates more problems than it solves. We support conscientious objectors in other countries, such as Israel, where young conscripts are enlisted without their full consent."

Pax Christi also believes that the British Armed Forces, and those across the world, take advantage of young minds to tempt them into service. "We encourage young people to think deeply about it as an issue of conscience," says Ms Flessati.

The Missionary Institute, in The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, offers an MA in peace and justice, among others, and members of Pax Christi lecture at the institute. It is through education that Pax Christi hopes to spread its message of peace.

While Pax Christi welcomes volunteers from all backgrounds, Catholicism is its underlying driving force. Ms Flessati says: "All organisations have an angle and ours is the Catholic faith." Pax Christi is based on the peace teachings of Jesus Christ and this underpins its every activity.

Striving for peace is not all about putting yourself on the front line, like Mr Kember, but doing as much as is in your means, says Ms Flessati. Many volunteers who come into the office in Watford Way, Hendon, help with general administration. Ms Flessati adds: "Stuffing envelopes is just as important. There is a nice atmosphere and we have some people who are retired and they just want to help in some small way."

The motto for Peace Day on January 15 is: in truth there is peace. It is a message that Pax Christi hopes will be reflected in the coming year with the release of Mr Kember an event Pax Christi still has faith in.