In an area where political relationships have been complex, Billy reflects on the unexpected unity experienced when walking alongside people of faith in Ugandan refugee camps.
"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" (Psalm 133:1).
Arua and the West Nile region are loved for their highly hospitable people. This endearing trait is more than just a cultural characteristic; it is an ethos that echoes across the borders of Uganda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The region provides a unique perspective on the power of shared ancestry and kinship, which transcends geopolitical boundaries and unifying tribes in times of peace and conflict alike.
In the tumultuous eighties, as Uganda was embroiled in a civil war, a wave of Ugandans sought refuge in South Sudan and DRC. These host nations, in a profound act of compassion, extended their homes and hearts to their Ugandan brethren. They offered them lands to till, spaces to construct houses, and most importantly, the comfort of feeling at home. The warmth of the South Sudanese and Congolese hospitality was such that when the war ceased and a new leader, Museveni, assumed power, many Ugandans chose to remain, absorbed into the fabric of their adoptive nation.
Fast-forward to recent times, and the tables have turned. South Sudan has found itself mired in its own civil war, and DRC experiences ongoing insecurity. It is now Ugandans offering the same refuge to the South Sudanese and Congolese that they once received. The cycle of hospitality, kindness, and integration continues, a beacon of hope in a world often marred by division.
This ongoing interchange of compassion and acceptance paints a picture of hope that is as radiant as it is humbling. It embodies the essence of the global church community that Jesus envisioned: an all-embracing family of nations, bound by love and understanding.
Across the Christian worship places, vocational training centres, schools, and community farms, one can hear the symphony of three nations resonating with a shared narrative. The melody tells a story of past trauma, a longing for peace, and the fervent hope for a brighter future. Despite their traumatic pasts and the uncertainty of their future, these individuals harbour a sense of hope so potent that it defies comprehension. Their lives, though scarred by hardship, are imbued with an iridescent joy that comes from a deep-rooted faith. From their work, studies, sports, meetings, and meals, they acknowledge and invite God's presence, attributing their survival and resilience to divine providence.
Every encounter in these nations reveals a people whose hope is not anchored in the transient or the tangible, but in the divine. Their unwavering faith in God, coupled with an indomitable spirit, fuels their resilience and fortifies their hope. This outlook, against all odds, instils a sense of awe and respect in any observer's heart.
The inspiring narrative of these three nations serves as a compelling reminder that our collective strength as a global community lies in our ability to embrace and reciprocate compassion. Their story underscores the transformative power of unity, even amid adversity, and the healing potential of shared experiences and mutual respect.
The body of believers in the East African trinity of nations epitomises the promise of a more harmonious world. A world where nations stand together in times of strife, where hospitality is more than an act but a culture, and where faith serves as an anchor amidst life's tumultuous waves.
Theirs is a story that needs to be shared and celebrated, a narrative that rekindles hope and reaffirms the indomitable spirit of humanity. It is a testament to our capacity for empathy, resilience, and unity, a lighthouse of hope that shines brightly in our world's diverse landscape.