About South Sudan

On Tuesday evening last week, our brother Rev. Ben Waigo shared with us some background on the situation in South Sudan. We have been traveling with 4 ministers from South Sudan for the trip and the voice they have added to the conversations is priceless. 

South Sudan is a pretty new country, having only gained independence from Sudan in 2011. It is a complicated country that is hard to sum up in a blog post. The broadest picture I can offer is this: The north is primarily Muslim and the south is primarily Christian. There has been massive conflict between the two for many years. Within South Sudan, there is conflict among the 64 tribes that live there. There is government instability and major infrastructure problems. 

The churches of South Sudan have formed a council for peacebuilding in communities and are working hard to overcome this tribal conflict. Pastors are respected there because they are pastors and they aren’t teaching killing and war like other community leaders. 

Because of the bickering dynamic of the international community, the internal problems are worsened. Instead of helping, the east and the west are busy arguing over South Sudan. 

According to our new friends, many South Sudanese are tired of war. Peace is beginning to creep in because they are just tired of fighting. The states in South Sudan are starting to work together better. Lydia said that one challenge is that “My people are a very stubborn people.” She also said that women peacemakers have a large roll in the effort and they are making a difference just like they are in Rwanda. 

Over all, our South Sudanese friends have great hope for their country. They see the beauty of it in the midst of the struggle. It has been a joy to travel with them and I pray these are friendships that span both time and space. Even though we come for very different places and live so far away, we laugh the same, hope the same, and belong to the same Creator. My life is so much richer for having them in it. 

Rwanda: Day 10

On Thursday, we wrapped up our Bible study with Genesis 46:5-7. This facilitated a conversation about if Joseph and his family we reconciled. We agreed that the story doesn’t end in Genesis 46. Just like the story continues in Rwanda, the path to reconciliation has begun, but the work is not finished. We also talked about the relationship between reconciliation and healing.

Another interesting conversation that came up was the idea of reconciliation with the land. Many people never were returned to their homes and lands. Many came back to homes that had been destroyed or damaged. There are also now millions of people in this tiny country, 65% of whom are under 25 years of age. Land is a valuable resource that is quickly running out here.

It will be important to watch what happens here one day when Paul Kigame is no longer president. Will it feel like Joseph’s brothers did after Jacob died (they were worried he’d retaliate.) Or will the reconciliation journey continue on the same track? Reconciliation takes time and Rwanda is well on its way, but there is still room to grow and heal.

After Bible study, we began the journey back to Kigali to wrap up our time together. On the way back to Kigali (via far less bumpy roads than we took to Kibuye from Butare), we stopped at two secondary schools. One was a school for woodworking and the other a school for teacher training. Both greeted us warmly and the Teacher Training College held back nothing, treating us to a full show with dancing, songs, speeches, skits, and even a fashion show!

In the evening, we had to say farewell to our South Sudanese friends and our Kenyan friend, all of whom would be leaving early in the morning on Friday. It was a sweet moment with new friends that will last a lifetime. I will always cherish their friendship and cannot wait to connect with each of them again.

The following day (day 11) was a down day while everyone, save a handful, departed to head home. We visited a book shop, an art gallery, and a local market. In the evening, my family (Tim, Gloria, and Levi), joined me here in Kigali. We will leave Sunday morning for Bwindi forest and Kampala for the next step of the adventure! This is where my official church travelogue will end, but I will be taking many pictures and planning presentations for church.

Rwanda: Day 9

Wednesday, we started off the day with Genesis 45:16-24. In this passage, Joseph’s brothers are sent back to Israel to get their father and all the family and servants and everything and move them back to Egypt. I’d never thought before about what … [Continue reading]

Rwanda: Day 8

I realize I’m several days behind on blog posts. The second week of the trip was full and busy. I will continue to post a blog post for each day of the trip, but they will be less prompt.  Monday, we spent most of the day on a bumpy bus traveling … [Continue reading]