Healing Begins In Sudan

Source: Presbyterian Mission

After more than a decade of conflict and the partitioning of their country, what residents of Sudan want more than anything else is peace and an opportunity to raise their families.

However, a disputed region between Sudan and South Sudan has recently been the site of increased hostilities as the government of Sudan seeks to reassert control over the resource-rich breakaway Republic of South Sudan.

In a recent wave of attacks, the community of Abyei in South Sudan along the disputed border was destroyed by militants associated with the Misseriya tribe in Sudan.

Responding to the devastation, missionaries are working to train local pastors to help displaced families cope with the loss and the trauma.

“There is [a] very high need for trauma healing here, and people seem to respond to this approach as being highly effective for touching people’s hearts,” said mission co-worker Kristi Rice, who is a trained mental health facilitator. “The reasons for trauma are so many in South Sudan — the many years of war and conflict, people being displaced multiple times and losing everything, years of missed or truncated education — all of which leads to insecurity, conflict within families, sickness, poverty, prejudice, fear, etc. So, the testimonies that we hear range across a broad spectrum of the types of inner wounds.”

Rev. Bob Rice, a missionary and instructor at the local Nile Theological College, met with a group of pastors from Abyei to conduct a series of workshops.

“Recognizing the challenge this community has faced, our church leadership in the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC) decided Abyei should be the next location for a healing and reconciliation workshop,” said Kristi Rice. “Participants were invited from several different churches in town, as well as from newer centers in the remote villages.”

During the multi-day gathering, powerful stories were shared that reminded those assembled of the importance of working to create stability and peace.

“Many people were moved by the confessions, including acknowledging wrongs done by Europeans and Americans in the colonization of Sudan and the exploitation of resources,” said Rice. “We concluded with a celebration of the unique talents of each people group and the unity that we have as children of God. As we celebrated together, the big smiles and laughter felt redemptive, showing the beauty that God can bring out of pain when we face our wounds and confess wrongs to each other.”

Rice said there has been a great response from the workshops and they are in high demand. Rice hopes that the workshops can be a part of an ongoing mental health initiative that will provide long term assistance to the families in need.

Source: Presbyterian Mission