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"Let us work to repair and restore"

by Michael Ford last modified 29 Jan, 2021 01:36 PM

The Revd Canon Joseph Bilal has witnessed the horrors of violence in his own country, South Sudan, and has spoken on BBC Radio 4's Sunday worship.

"Let us work to repair and restore"

Photo courtesy

He says:

"In my own visits to this beautiful country, I have seen the devastating impact on both perpetrators and victims of the hatred and violence they continue to experience.

"The incident of Sunday 15th December 2013 was the darkest day in the history of our nation. It all began in Juba. The supporters of the President Salva Kiir attacked the supporters of his Deputy Dr Riek Machar. That led into the full displacement of over 870,000 people from their homes across the country, with several thousand brutally murdered.

"That included pastors killed because of their ethnicity. Women and girls raped. Ten of thousands of civilians sought safety inside the churches and in the UN Base compound in South Sudan. Others fled to refugee camps in neighbouring countries in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

"Also, social media was used to divide the nation into tribal lines and small clan social bubbles with a devastating impact on the livelihood of the people, livestock, and property.

"As Christians, we must use the social media platform to channel acts of love, kindness, and friendship towards each other. Jesus called us to love our enemies rather than demonizing and de-humanizing them.

"I admit that a call to loving our enemy is so challenging, particularly when we know they tortured and took the lives of those we love. But as Christians, we are called to stand in the gap of our ethnic group championing the cause of forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing.

"Jesus calls us to forgive one another as God himself has forgiven us*. We must ‘let go of’ the desire for vengeance and retribution.

"President Nelson Mandela of South Africa visited the United States of America, and President Bill Clinton asked him ‘How are you able to bring yourself to forgive your jailers?’ Nelson replied:

"'When I walked through the gate I knew that if I continued to hate those people who jailed me, I was still in prison. If you hate, you will give your heart and mind. Don’t give these two things away.'

"Nelson Mandela had every reason to seek revenge but instead, he chose the route of forgiveness and reconciliation. The goal of forgiveness is to address the guilt of sin with mercy. It is my appeal that we need to avoid demonizing people of another community. Instead, let us seek reconciliation. Let us work to repair and restore our broken relationships and get along with each other, making our nation and world safe and peaceful."

Listen here.

*Matthew chapter 18, verse 18.

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