I believe that the grace of God reflected through a human soul is the essence of beauty. While in Nairobi we helped to lead a trauma healing conference for approximately fifty men and women who were refugees from South Sudan. All had fled violence and experienced loss that is difficult to imagine. I was amazed as each person expressed a deep faith in God, and a hope for the future--even though the present was full of tremendous challenges. Although they acknowledged much pain and hardship, they did not demonstrate defeat. Many expressed a desire to grow and gain new skills which would help them to rebuild their country in the future. To build a future of peace in South Sudan will require much on a structural and governmental level. Structures can support an environment for peace, but peace can only be established through hearts which are open to work towards healing--and to receive and extend grace. The foundation for peace begins in the heart, and I experienced gracious hearts in the men and women that I encountered. It was beautiful.
In December we traveled to Kenya to participate in a commemoration of the violence in Juba in 2013. What an incredible way to prepare for Christmas—celebrating the Prince of Peace with those who are seeking to build a future of peace for their country. Rather than stirring up anger or cries for vengeance, the commemoration was focused on prayers for peace and healing. It honored all victims of the massacres that took place, no matter what tribe they were from. Those attending acknowledged together that the best way to honor the tens of thousands who lost their lives was to break the cycle of violence and destruction, and to work together to establish a new future for South Sudan. How I admire the courageous young men and women who are truly peacemakers in the most difficult of circumstances.
This was my Christmas gift---meeting men and women of hope and grace. Though they have suffered so much loss, they are not seeking vengeance, but rather healing. Those I met truly reflected the spirit of Christ and the hope of the incarnation. God is with us, even in the most painful of circumstances in this world.
Romans 8 states that all of creation is “groaning,” longing for our redemption. As I look around the world, I would say that creation is “wailing.” The horrors of war wound the soul, and a natural response is that of trauma--or the “wailing” of our inner being. The violence in South Sudan and Syria continues unabated; millions of men, women and children have been impacted by death of loved ones, displacement, and an uncertain future. God hears the cries, and invites us to listen and respond as well.
In December I’ll travel to Nairobi for a commemoration of the outbreak of violence in 2013, which initiated the most recent civil war in South Sudan. We will remember the atrocities and innocent lives taken, but also bring people from various tribes together to seek healing and peace. Please pray for God to strengthen and guide those who seek peace and reconciliation for South Sudan.
Below is a link to some of the latest news on South Sudan. The insecurity is having secondary effects, such as the potential for significant famine as people are displaced and crops have not been planted. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-34610205
This is a vision that has been birthed, and we are just getting started!
Stay tuned for more news, blogs and ministry updates!
Thank-you for joining us on the journey!
Nehemiah's Hope is now a 5013C Non-Profit Organization as designated by the IRS
This spring and summer has been eventful as we have begun to build networks of relationships, lay the foundation for our work, assess needs, and establish areas of service.
Some highlights thus far have been:
South Sudan: Assisting with a training for pastors in Southern Sudan, working with two other organizations, providing a framework to understand the impact of trauma and support those who experienced the trauma of war.
What a privilege to meet these men and women who desire to be instruments of hope and healing in a land devastated by continued violence and displacement. Over 1.4 million people have been displaced since the violence erupted in December, and many are suffering from hunger and disease as a result of the conditions they are enduring. Pray for peace and for hope for the future for our dear brothers and sisters in South Sudan.
Uganda: Visiting the Village of Hope in Uganda, observing the holistic model for healing of children impacted by the violence of the Lord's Resistance Army, and gaining an increased awareness of the process of healing for children impacted by war.
The Village of Hope is a wonderful place where children are healing, learning, playing, growing and preparing for the future. After a week at the Village of Hope, Karen facilitated a trauma recovery seminar sponsored by PEACE International, working with Sudanese refugees who are living in Northern Uganda. The impact of the trauma they had experienced was profound, as evidenced by several people who had a difficult time recalling a place or time where they ever felt safe. Yet throughout the days of the workshop, the participants began to share to find ways to provide support for one another. One attendee was the pastor of a church of over 500 refugees and was a leader in his denomination. He was encouraged during the week and said, "I will share what I have learned with the other pastors so that they can experience healing as I have." Although this was one step on a journey, we were so grateful to be a part of that step. Our hope and prayer is that our small offerings of support will be multiplied throughout the communities that we visit.