This is the opinion of one person, Samson (above, left), a young man who lives in South Sudan. However, it’s fair to say that hatred has defined much of his country’s short history. Since gaining independence from Sudan a little over seven years ago, violent conflict has dogged its path towards peace.
Samson is one of millions of young people trying to live a normal life amid the on-off conflict between tribal and political groups.
But, last summer, he took part in a healing and reconciliation workshop made possible by an MAF flight and led by Corina de Waal – wife of MAF Country Director Bastiaan.
It changed his life.
‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace!’
At Christmas, we celebrate the moment peace came down to earth. It’s a time when many of us feel God’s glory is at its brightest – His Kingdom closest at hand.
Yet, from the moment our Prince of Peace was born, He faced a life of hatred and violence.
The king of Judea wanted to kill Him, religious leaders plotted His murder and a Roman governor gave the ultimate order for His death.
Only through death and resurrection could God make His precious gift of peace to us all.
It’s a gift we’re asking you to share this Christmas.
The people of South Sudan are still traumatised because of a power struggle which has raged throughout this young country’s independence.
They feel anger and despair caused by the horrific events of their recent past. Young people in their hundreds still join rebel groups. Rural communities continue to fight over land and cattle, and the desire for revenge is an overriding emotion for many.
For this impoverished country, peace has proved extremely scarce.
Maridi Youth Christian Association (MYCA) is at the forefront of trauma healing and reconciliation in South Sudan. Its monthly church and sporting activities enable young people from different tribes to begin the healing progress.
By listening to boys and girls whose lives have been devastated by conflict, MYCA teams help bridge the gap between former enemies. Once trust has been established, they can then discuss what ‘peace’ in South Sudan could look like and how survivors of war can forgive each other and begin to build that vision together.
The 5-day workshop led by Corina – in partnership with the Episcopal Church of South Sudan – was attended by 47 young people representing 14 different tribes or communities.
‘At first, it was very difficult for them to speak about their wounds,’ Corina recalls. ‘We talked with them about repentance and forgiveness and how the relationship between God and creation was broken.
‘We emphasised the need to end negative criticism and – on our last day together – the groups faced each other and repented of their words and actions! They decided to celebrate their differences by performing songs and stories unique to their respective tribes.’
The words of one young woman, Verra (above), summed up the potential South Sudan’s younger generation has to forge a peaceful future for the nation.
‘This training has changed me. The hatred in our hearts, jealousness, prejudices. Now I am feeling really free. We are all children of God. We should not differentiate ourselves. We are all equal in front of God. I know with God anything is possible. God takes time responding – but keep on praying!’
Your prayers and gifts nourish the roots of healing and reconciliation in remote communities worldwide. Please consider making a special, Christmas gift today so that MAF can continue to share the peace of Christ with thousands more people throughout 27 impoverished countries.
Warring parties sign a peace deal
This historic event was announced by the BBC on 13 September 2018. It was the final step in a process which began last summer when two fierce political rivals signed a ceasefire.
As part of a power-sharing deal, Riek Machar agreed to return to his former role as Vice President to unite with President Kiir in leading their country towards a peaceful future.
After seven years’ flying for life in the world’s youngest country, we’ve witnessed many small miracles in communities where hatred and violence had seemingly won the day. That’s why it’s such a joyful privilege to share this momentous news with the MAF family!
This Christmas, we send you our sincerest thanks for your steadfast commitment to our mission of peace and forgiveness. Because of your faithfulness, the Gospel is transforming the lives of people who were – until very recently – deadly enemies.
Our flights help organisations such as MYCA to put into practice the Christian principles of repentance, forgiveness, healing and reconciliation.
And – this Christmas, praise God – peace is alive in South Sudan!
Today, we’re asking you to help us fly God’s message of peace, healing and reconciliation to thousands more who may not otherwise hear it.
Your actions change the world. Please make a gift that will enable young men and women living amid hatred and violence to echo the words of Philip, another workshop attendee.
‘We need to put God first. And if someone has done wrong you need to forgive. You need to first pray to God and then forgive and forget. This is what we got from the training and we would like more to come… And we are praying that the message can reach the people who are not here with us for the workshop. Thank you.’
Philip’s fragile generation holds the key to a peaceful future. But, without an end to the conflict, someone like him may not live to become the next President of South Sudan.
Thank you so much for the prayers and gifts which have played an enormous part in South Sudan reaching this turning point in its history.
At the time of publishing this story, the peace deal remains intact. Please pray that the armed groups who remain at large will be inspired to turn away from violence forever.
We wish you a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year!