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SOMA Mission to Wau

by Michael Ford last modified 18 Dec, 2019 05:13 PM

The most recent SOMA Mission to South Sudan has returned to the UK. The trip saw the team visit some of the area devastated by the civil war, open a youth leaders conference, and thankfully miss a plane crash.

SOMA Mission to Wau

Creddy Hart with children

Ron Hart, SOMA Team Leader, takes up the story for us:

"We have just returned from a SOMA Mission to Wau, in the provincial capital of Bahr el Ghazal. Archbishop Moses had invited us to run a youth leaders' conference for 40 people aged 18-30 - 5 from each of his constituent dioceses. We were asked to cover topics like youth entrepreneurship, family life, and especially peace and reconciliation.

"After our arrival in Wau we were taken on a short tour, and saw the camp for Internally Displaced people around the RC Cathedral. People had fled there to escape the fighting in Wau town in 2016, and still did not feel safe enough to return home. The place was grim, materially lacking in all but the basics, existence rather than life, a consequence of war. Children with twisted limbs reached out to touch our hands. We wept at the suffering. Yet there was evidence of food aid, and care provided by the church.

SOMA Mission to Wau- camp for internally displaced people

"On our way back, as we entered the Anglican Cathedral Grounds we saw groups praying, others studying. What a contrast between the destructive consequences of war, and the hope Christ brings. I was reminded of Moses' words "See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction." [from Deuteronomy 30:15]

"We started the youth leaders' conference by sharing these pictures and the destructive nature of war, with the challenge "Therefore choose life", knowing that some would have been involved in the earlier slaughter.

SOMA Mission to Wau- youth leaders' conference

"The conference itself went well, though we had packed a lot in, knowing our time with them was limited. On the central process of building peace and reconciliation, the essential premise we followed is that for reconciliation to happen, the past must be faced and the pain it represents needs to be handed to God. Then people face their deep seated prejudices and repent of wrong attitudes or actions. The process begins with a foundation of understanding God's love for each one of us. As well as talks, we acted out our prayers, taking our pain to the cross in a symbolic way.

"The workshop on family life included respect for one another, and the need to give our children encouragement, and we found the delegates receptive. The entrepreneurship sessions began with an exercise, with the delegates put into two lines, and asked to use their belts, jumpers and anything they had to make the longest continuous line. It was fun, and made the point that they already have all they need to begin a small business.

"Each day we had a Bible study from Ephesians, and teaching on topics like prayer and the Holy Spirit, but we also built in some fun activities - a session of balloon volleyball, balloon races, and a series of drama workshops. Behind everything we did was a large number of people praying for us in England, and also constant intercession by one of our team members. At the end we presented certificates, and realised just how much the delegates had learnt as each of their groups gave a report on the week.

SOMA Mission to Wau- young girls

"We returned to Juba tired but happy. We had one last task - to lead an afternoon of worship and teaching at a new Juba church. The following day we headed home, and narrowly missed being in a plane that crashed on the runway at Juba!"

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