After a safe arrival to Arua yesterday our team of 14 joined 25 of our South Sudanese global partners to open the Peace and Reconciliation Conference. We celebrated being together and felt so thankful for the opportunity to be meet, some for the first time and others renewing friendships after many years.
Today began with Archbishop Justin's opening blessing in which he vividly described the current situation in South Sudan and how the Church is responding. He started by relating to us that he was born in war, grew up in war and continues to serve his church in conflict: a powerful testimony. The Church in South Sudan is responding in many ways: through engaging parties at a local and national level, building confidence and trust, holding leaders accountable and remaining with and protecting those on the ground at home and wherever they have been displaced.
In the sessions today, half of the team took part in facilitated discussions on the Church’s response to peace building, the Theology of peace and reconciliation and the Theology of forgiveness led by Rev Amanda Adams. This resulted in powerful, focused discussion based on harrowing accounts and traumatic life experiences.
Meanwhile the other half of the team spent time with the youth and Mothers' Union representatives from our partner dioceses. There were fascinating discussions on life skills, including interactive sessions about setting life goals, reproductive health. We also learned from these groups about the challenges they face in community peace building.
We are learning a great deal about what our partners have been facing during these times of insecurity, and we feel this is a great privilege.