'If we are true believers then why are we killing our brothers?' asks my friend as we travel along a bumpy earth road. During the years of civil war in Sudan many people turned to God for hope. But in December 2013 the new country of South Sudan was torn apart by political and ethnic violence.
What hope of peace is there for the ordinary people of South Sudan? Here are three thoughts:
Turning and praying This morning my friend Simon Juach and I shared breakfast with the one of the 11 church participants in the national peace negotiations. As we talked I was reminded of God's promise that 'if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land' (2 Chronicles 7v14). Are we doing this as we long for a breakthrough?
Reconciling Communities 'People are saying that the politicians are talking but even if they sign an agreement will it make a difference here?' Pastor Paul from Lozoh (see photo) is an example of someone working hard to rebuild trust at a local level. Adding a reconciliation stage to church and community transformation might be an important way forward. We've already seen amazing reconciliation through this in nearby Rwanda.
Following Jesus more closely At its core the challenge for those of us who are Christians in South Sudan is to follow Jesus, the 'Prince of Peace,' more closely. 'Discipleship is critical but we are not good at it' shares one friend who is a Bishop. Maybe it's time for us to focus again on who we are called to be.