My life (put) alongside God's word. Section on National development issues.
by Alex Bolek Abuk
Peace or ‘shalom’ in Hebrew tradition is more than just simply peace, as it is known in our daily life. It is a complete peace in its broadest sense, a package comprising of contentment, completeness, wholeness, wellbeing and harmony. Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfection, fullness, rest, harmony and the absence of agitation or discord. (www.therefinersfire.org)
Health, “the state of complete physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, (World Health Organisation), has been adapted from the Hebrew concept of peace. A person, family, community and nation blessed with peace in its real sense are truly blessed. How would a nation be if it has all the characteristics mentioned above? It would be the most ideal nation and place on earth one would love to live in!
In these turbulent times, it is rare to find a nation that is completely at peace with itself and with neighbouring countries because many factors like socio-economic crises and political disputes emerge from time to time. This is why the Lord Jesus told His disciples that compared to this world’s peace the peace that He (Jesus) gives is different. It is an internal peace, a peace of mind and heart in times of trouble. Someone put it that, “Peace is not the absence of trouble but the presence of God.” The Bible says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble”, Psalm 46:1, also Psalm 91:1-16. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”, John 14:27.
This world’s peace is a fragile and temporary peace because it is an external peace that can be disturbed by external factors. Yet in times of civil unrest, wise political leaders and
peace-loving citizens should strive for peace because of advantages peace has for a
nation. War brings with it hosts of problems that directly and indirectly affect civilian
populations. How often do innocent civilians become victims of political struggles? When
war breaks out, the themes are always ‘Liberation from oppression’ or ‘Defending
national sovereignty and national security’, which are great. But in the process, innocent
civilians suffer a great deal. The African proverb is true, ‘When two elephants fight, it is
the grass that suffers’. This is why it is important to pray for political leaders so that a
country is blessed with peace to avoid citizens falling as victims of wars.
The Bible gives many reasons why peace, ‘shalom’, is important for a nation. For the sake of space, I have selected the following eight:
1. Peace preserves human life and prevents material loss
The prophet Hosea in his book speaks of the devastating effects of war on both human life and infrastructure, effects that do not happen in times of peace. “The roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses (=infrastructure) will be devastated
— as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to
the ground with their children” (=human losses), Hosea 10:14.
War is destructive both to human life and to material resources. In terms of human losses, in wartime young people die more than others on battle frontlines, because they are a target for mobilisation and recruitment in the army and other auxiliary forces, to defend
national sovereignty. But whenever there are random shootings and bombings, lives are
lost irrespective of age, sex and socio-economic status. Innocent women, children, old
people and the rest fall victims in such situations. The war in Syria for instance, where
there is random shelling and shooting by both the government security forces and the
opposition groups, has claimed countless civilian lives. The recent and current crisis in
South Sudan is one example that is clear and evident to all. In just a few weeks over a
thousand people have been reported dead. In time of peace, this does not happen.
People don’t die in such big numbers in such a short time. Infrastructure as well is also destroyed. In civil wars, bridges are bombed and blown up, buildings like schools, hospitals, civilian houses, offices, factories etc. are demolished. And when a peace deal is reached, the warring parties start rebuilding what their very hands have destroyed. This takes a long time to rebuild and drains the nation’s resources that could have gone for other developmental projects, if there were no wars. In terms of development, war takes nations back to square one. But even if the demolished infrastructure could be rebuilt, how about human life? Can it be replaced?
2. Peace increases life expectancy
The prophet Zechariah in his book talks about a time when God would bring peace to
Jerusalem so that people live to a ripe old age as a result. As a sign of peace, the streets
and playgrounds would be filled with young people playing. Sports are a sign of peace in
a city. “This is what the Lord Almighty says: Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there”, Zechariah 8:4-5.
As a result of civil wars and the related chronic socio-economic and health problems, life
expectancy (the average number of years a person can expect to live) in countries with
civil wars has gone down compared to other countries that are in peace. Health indicators like maternal and infant mortality rates are worse in countries that are under civil wars. Take for instance my country South Sudan. For every 100,000 live births, more than 2,000 (2,054) mothers die. This is attributed to a lack of well-trained health cadres, lack of well-equipped health facilities and drugs, bad roads and other reasons all due to civil war. But when there is peace these unnecessary deaths are avoided and people live to a ripe old age. Whenever there is civil unrest, people die before time, Ecclesiastes 7:16-17.
3. War causes citizens displacement to live as refugees and Internally Displaced Persons/People (IDPs)
The book of second Kings narrates a true history when there was a mass displacement of citizens from Israel to Egypt. An incident happened in which Ishmael son of Nethaniah, who was of royal blood, assassinated Gedaliah the governor appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar after the Babylonian invasion and capture of Jerusalem. Other high ranking government officials, both Jews and Babylonians, were killed alongside Gedaliah.
As a result of this incident, the citizens, even the army officers, reasoned that the
Babylonians would come to avenge the blood of their officials killed with Gedaliah. So they fled to Egypt to live as refugees. “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to be over the people he had left behind in Judah … Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood, came with ten men and assassinated Gedaliah and also the men of Judah and the Babylonians who were with him at Mizpah. At this, all the people from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians”,
2 Kings 25:22, 25-26.
Displacement conditions are hostile. I have seen how our people lived in slums as IDPs in
displaced camps around Khartoum, and in dire poverty in neighbouring countries as
refugees, during the years of civil war in the Sudan. Many of our people died in displaced
or refugee camps and in the bush while trying to cross international borders to find safety
and refuge in neighbouring countries. In civil wars, the majority of deaths are caused by
indirect actions rather than by sword or gunshot. During the civil war between the armies of King David and those of his son Absalom who rebelled against him, the Bible says the
forests (hostile conditions) claimed more lives than the sword. “The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest claimed more lives that day than the sword”,
2 Samuel 18: 8.
I read the following in an Arabic language newspaper Alahram Alyom in Khartoum about a World Health Organisation report on deaths related to the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan: “WHO confirmed that 80% of people who died in Darfur died as a result of epidemics (infectious diseases) and not from violence (gunshot)!” When I read this, my eyes were opened wide as it seems to be confirming what the Bible is saying in the scripture above. According to this report, the majority (80%) of deaths, although related to the crisis in the region, did not result from direct violence but from diseases. If this report is correct, it confirms what the scripture above is saying. It was reported that over two million people died in South Sudan during the 21 years of civil war. How many of those two million people (or those one thousand in the recent crisis) actually died of gunshot? Probably only a little percentage. But the conditions of displacement (forest), where people were subjected to starvation, poor living and insanitary conditions, infectious diseases like malaria, walking for long distances on foot without food and water, ferocious animals etc., all contributed to the majority of the deaths.
4. In war time, citizens are tortured and their properties are looted
To substantiate this point, the book of the prophet Ezekiel reports what happened when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded Tyre and Egypt: “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon drove his army in a hard campaign against Tyre; every head was rubbed bare and every shoulder made raw (=torture). Yet he and his army got no reward from the campaign he led against Tyre. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will carry off its wealth. He will loot and plunder the land as pay for his army”, (=stealing and pillaging of properties, robbing as the spoils of war), Ezekiel 29: 18, 19.
When soldiers (both regular and rebel) are sent out for operations in wartime where they go for weeks or months away from home without food or money, what do they do? The only and easiest alternative they have is to resort to loot and plunder citizens’ properties for their wages, leave alone other evil acts like rape. This happened in South Sudan during the first two civil wars. We have seen the extent of looting and devastation in the recent crisis (2014). If this can happen in South Sudan, it can happen anywhere, wherever there is war. Robbers who are neither government soldiers nor rebels also take advantage of such circumstances. In the recent crisis in Juba, I know of at least one citizen whose house was looted before his eyes at gunpoint and everything valuable was carried away. When I asked him about the identity of those who looted his house, his answer was, “I can’t really tell because some were in military uniform but others were in civilian clothes.” Even robbers in such a situation can easily find armed forces’ uniform and be ‘wolves in sheep’s skin’. It is important to note here that this is not to be generalised to all soldiers. There are well-disciplined and God-fearing soldiers who do their national duty well and never loot or rape under any circumstances, see Luke 2:14.
What I am saying here is that looting and rape are common phenomena, reported all over the world in war circumstances. Some undisciplined soldiers might be out of control and reckless even if their direct commanders gave them orders not to do such acts.
5. In war time the peaceful movement of citizens and goods is hampered
One of the adverse side effects of war is the restriction or hindrance of citizens’ movement and the flow of goods in a country. Here is what the Bible says, “In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another”, 2 Chronicles 15:5-6.
According to this scripture, ‘it was not safe to travel’. In our modern time, this could be
due to road ambushes (see example below), land mines, many check points and
questionings at those check points by security agents as to where citizens are
travelling and why, if they have ID cards or not etc. The scripture above also says that
‘all’ the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. When wars happen, they affect
all the citizens in the land without any exception of class, nationality, race, age or sex.
There was no citizen who was unaffected by the wars. Everyone was unable to travel
freely, all were starving and going without food, all were going without salaries, all were
going without health care, all were without schools, all were under dangers of death any
time…name it! Many of you have experienced this!
When a country is at war, roads are blocked and citizens are confined to their cities and
villages. In the Bible days when the citizens of Shechem were in crisis with Abimelech and hunting for him, the Bible says that they positioned men on the hilltops to ambush and rob anyone who happened to pass by. The Book of Judges tells us: “In opposition to him (Abimelech) these citizens of Shechem set men on the hilltops to ambush and rob
everyone who passed by, and this was reported to Abimelech”, Judges 9:25.
Look at that! ‘Anyone’ who happened to pass by that road was a potential candidate for
ambushing and robbing. It is clearly not Abimelech suffering but the innocent citizens!
The ‘Abimelech’ they are hunting for might be hiding where they cannot get him or might
have even fled to a neighbouring country. He is nowhere to be found. So civilians become victims on his behalf. Here travelling became really dangerous as there were ambushes on the roads. If it is ‘Abimelech’ that they wanted, why set men on the hilltops to ambush and rob every innocent civilian who happened to pass by? Innocent civilians who have nothing to do with politics have always suffered when authorities hunt for ‘Abimelech’ or ‘the rebels’ they want. ‘Ambushing and robbing’ here also supports the point of ‘looting and plunder’ for wages I talked about above. The soldiers were looking or hunting for Abimelech or ‘the rebels’, but while they were doing that they also ambushed civilians and robbed their properties! Weeks ago on Juba-Yei Road, some cash was forcefully taken from my colleague and others travelling, by a group that blocked the road. Thank God my friend and those with him were not murdered!
Freedom of movement, travel within a country and across its international borders, is of utmost importance to citizens. Safe travel and movement of goods anytime and anywhere within a country is a sign that the country is at peace. This boosts economic growth. Roads, both national and international, are the economic arteries of a nation. Although they are good for citizens’ easy and fast movement, they also serve economic purposes. Goods come in through roads that are safe, and once they are blocked by army, rebels or
robbers, or infested with land mines, goods disappear from the markets and prices
immediately shoot up. In war times, goods also get looted on the way by elements that
make use of the war situation for their own ends. The city of Juba and almost all cities and
towns in South Sudan went through times of starvation while they were under siege during the civil wars.
When travelling on the main roads becomes dangerous due to insecurity, citizens resort to using other paths that would not be used if there were peace. Here people resort to walking on paths, as public roads used by vehicles are no longer usable by pedestrians, yet another suffering for civilians. The Bible records a time in the era of Israel’s judges Shamgar and Jael
when the usual roads were abandoned and travellers used other alternative ‘winding’
(forest, mountainous) roads. “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the
roads were abandoned; travellers took to winding paths. Village life in Israel ceased”, Judges
When the civil war broke out in 1983 in south Sudan, people thought it would stop in few
days or weeks but it continued for over twenty years. It is easy to start a war but difficult to
stop it. As a result, the main roads between cities in south Sudan stopped being used by
civilians and citizens started using country bush roads. I remember meeting a relative in the 1990s who happened to come to Juba through those ‘winding paths’. When I asked him how he managed to come into the city, he told me, “I had to walk for days using countryside roads as the main roads are not safe.” War makes main roads be abandoned and this affects all citizens’ movement and the flow of goods into the markets.
6. Peace fosters nation building and economic growth
Peace is a prerequisite for nation building. During the time of king Asa, the Kingdom
of Judah enjoyed a time of peace and the king came up with an initiative to build the nation making use of the peaceful time they had. “Abijah rested with his fathers and was buried in the City of David. Asa his son succeeded him as king, and in his days the country was at peace for ten years. Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest. “Let us build up these towns,” he said to Judah, “and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we sought him and he has given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered”, 2 Chronicles 14:1-7.
Because Asa’s kingdom enjoyed ten years of peace they were able to build a prosperous
nation. King Asa was able to summon his people to a common agenda of ‘nation building’
because there was peace. “Let us build up these towns”, he said to Judah. They built and they prospered. Asa’s kingdom also had rest on ‘every side’. This means there were no civil wars and there were no wars with neighbouring nations. A nation at peace with itself and with the neighbouring countries is a blessed nation. My country Sudan has always been in civil wars and this has kept us behind in terms of development. Today as I write these lines, my country South Sudan is witnessing a third civil war, a tragedy that will hamper development in this nation for many decades to come. Wars affect all spheres of life, social, economic, health, education, etc.
The Bible says there were ten years of peace during the reign of King Asa. Those ten years reminded me of the ten years of peace in Sudan after the first civil war (1972-1982) before the second civil war broke out in 1983. In those ten years a lot of good things happened. One of them was that schools were opened and I am one of the privileged children who went to school at that time. If it were not for those ten years of peace, I would not be able to write these lines today. Those ten years saved my generation from illiteracy. In civil wars education, among other developmental activities, is affected. Here is another headline from Allahram Alyom newspaper: “Security Situation in Jebel Marra (Darfur) prevents 894 pupils from sitting Primary/Basic Leaving Certificate Examinations.” What this article intends to communicate is clear to all. The message is that peace edifies but war destroys. Peace brings growth and development but war takes nations backwards. Nearly 900 students were not able to sit for their exam because of insecurity! This kept them one year behind. What if the war continues? Their future is jeopardised! As someone who has experienced perils of two civil wars, (born during the first 1955-1972, and grew up during the second 1983-2005) and now in a third one that I pray should quickly stop, post independence, I really hate to hear the sound of gunshot. I long to spend the remaining years of my life in peace. We need to pray for a long lasting peace and not only for few years of peace then back to war!
In our South Sudan situation peaceful ‘law and order’ would mean the elimination of
tribal fights, cattle rustling and any sort of civil unrest, including armed struggles within
or among political parties as are happening now. Before educators open school doors,
before farmers go to their farms, before businesses open up, before engineers go to their
works, before investors and development partners come into a nation or city, before all
in the nation do anything; there must first be law and order. When there are shootings and
riots in the streets all these developmental activities come to a halt. No investor would
think of bringing millions of his dollars to invest in a failing and fragile State. (editor’s note:
Sadly, South Sudan is top of the world’s list of failing states as we publish this book).
In the Western world when there is national crisis of any kind, for instance citizens’
riots that have caused economic losses, they estimate their losses and how much time
would be needed to recover those losses. This helps them to learn lessons, work hard to
avoid future crises, bring development back to its feet (pre-crisis level) and keep it
moving forward. I wish we had this type of thinking! As Africans and Sudanese (sorry
to say), we are ready to fight and destroy for 50 or 100 years, not mindful of any
development delays leave alone human losses. As South Sudanese, how long will it take
us to recover the two years of development that we destroyed in less than a month,
when the nation eventually returns to peace? Good Lord help us! As already stated, nations that spend years fighting will never experience economic growth and development. This is equally so even within one country. Regions or states that are not at peace do not see any signs of development while those that are at peace do.
7. Wars bring foreign troops into a nation, with their related negative effects
Interestingly the Bible has a story that confirms this point, 2 Chronicles 25. It is a book that
is never taken by surprise. Nothing is new to it. The Bible has recorded and documented
all the reference stories for us long ago, for us to refer to and learn from. Hiring troops is
therefore nothing new. The wise King Solomon observed, “There is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time”, Ecclesiastes 1:9,10.
In our modern times, foreign troops come into a nation wearing one of two shoes when
there is war. They come either as peacekeeping forces or as troops hired by a nation in
war. They come from sisterly or friendly nation(s) to fight alongside its national army,
deemed incapable of repelling the invading foreign or rebel army on its own. ‘Peacekeeping forces’ are non-combatant troops that come under a mandate of international government organisations like the UN or regional bodies like IGAD, in agreement with the host country.
The mandate of these troops is to protect civilian life, observe cease-fire implementation,
and monitor and maintain peace reached by warring parties. The troops are paid by the
sending organisation(s). ‘Hired troops’ on the other hand are combatant forces that come to support and fight alongside the national army of the hiring nation and are paid by the
country that hires them. Although it is not always openly said that these troops are hired,
their involvement is not for free. The author of this article does not believe that a nation can risk its soldiers fighting in a foreign country for free. The terms of their hire are usually
beneath the table and confidential between governments and heads of states. Their wages are directly or indirectly paid to their governments and can take different forms, including exchange for commodities like oil, gold, uranium, diamonds etc., depending on what is available in the hiring nation.
Although the presence of foreign troops (both peace keeping and hired) in a country is ‘good’, there are also related negative side effects. Firstly, since the troops who come to fight alongside the national army are ‘hired’, they drain the hiring nation
economically as they are paid in hard currency. The amount depends on the number of the troops and their duration of stay in the country. Secondly, reciprocal killings happen.
Foreign troops that are combatant troops kill and get killed on the battle front lines. Because they are not the national army, they might kill indiscriminately, not distinguishing between who is an enemy and who are ordinary citizens. Thirdly, foreign troops in a nation might get involved in illegal and criminal activities like illegal marriages, rape, looting etc. in spite of their clear mandate and strict regulations. There is enough evidence to support this but there is not enough space to explore further here. You Google it!
As stated above (Point 4), these negative activities are not to be generalised to all
peacekeeping or hired forces. There are soldiers who are well disciplined and respect their mandate. But there might be a handful of soldiers who do not respect their mandate. For instance when foreign troops leave a country after 10 or 20 years, they leave behind illegal children born by daughters of the host country. This is part of the hidden price a nation pays for allowing foreign troops onto its soil. No one is an island in this world. We will always be part of the international community and therefore in need of foreign military interventions in times of need. Protection of civilian life by peacekeeping forces is always a mission well appreciated. The author of this article is not in any way against the presence of foreign troops in a nation but I am trying to bring into the light what consequences there are. It is up to governments to weigh the sensitive balance of cons and pros in this matter, especially with hired troops.
A typical example of hired troops in the Bible is when King Amaziah of the kingdom of Judah hired a hundred thousand soldiers from the northern kingdom of Israel for a hundred talents of silver (a heavy hard currency in our time) when he was at war with the nation of Seir. The arrangement went quite smoothly. The deal was signed, the amount was paid, and troops from Israel were dispatched and arrived in Judah. But after their arrival, God sent a prophet to tell King Amaziah that those troops are not needed and that they should return to their own country! I wish such prophets still existed today. Prophets who come with a message of peace or who tell Mr King or Mr President: “Do not go to war” or “Do not bring in foreign troops”. Amaziah told the prophet that he had already paid a big and lump sum amount for the troops and that it would be a waste if the troops he brought would not fight for him and defend the kingdom of Judah. But the prophet told him that God would compensate that amount. “Don’t take it back and don’t use the troops”.
King Amaziah was an obedient king. He told the hired troops to return home. How many of our kings or presidents today would be obedient like King Amaziah? Many of our leaders would just consider that prophet who came with a word from God was “a mad man who comes with nonsense”. The hired troops who were enthusiastic and ready for battle were angered when they were told to return home and not go to war. On their way home they destroyed and looted Judean cities along the way, killing thousands of people! Here is some of the Bible text: “Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years … Amaziah called the people of Judah together and assigned them according to their families to commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds for all Judah and Benjamin. He then mustered those twenty years old or more and found that there were three hundred thousand men ready for military service, able to handle the spear and shield. He also hired a hundred thousand fighting men from Israel for a hundred talents of silver.
But a man of God came to him and said, “O king, these troops from Israel must not march
with you, …” Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?” The man of God replied, “The Lord can give you much more than that.” So Amaziah dismissed the troops who had come to him from Ephraim and sent them home. They were furious with Judah and left for home in a great rage … The troops that Amaziah had sent back and had not allowed to take part in the war raided Judean towns from Samaria to Beth Horon. They killed three thousand people and carried off great quantities of plunder”, 2 Chronicles 25:1-13.
In this story, we see that the hired troops killed thousands of innocent civilians and looted
the country they were hired to defend! Did king Amaziah know that the same troops he
hired would come and kill 3,000 of his own innocent civilians and loot his own cities?
These are the kind of things not always taken into consideration when bringing foreign
troops into a conflict. Governments only regret later on, in the end. Sensible nations should therefore avoid bringing in combatant troops. Stories like that of King Amaziah are
recorded in the Bible to warn and teach us (including all nations). “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, ...For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, … so we might have hope”, 1 Corinthians 10:11, Romans 15:4 (italics mine).
8. Peace is important for the propagation of the Good News of salvation
As for the Church, peace is important for the Church to be able to carry the message of
salvation in Jesus Christ to all parts of the country and to the world at large, as the Bible
says, “my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth”,
Acts 1:8. When Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and all the ends of the earth are in turmoil, the
evangelists who bring good tidings, Isaiah 52:7, will not be able to go out to preach the
gospel. It is a well-documented fact that revivals and church growth happen when the
church is persecuted and in times of Christian suffering. This is clearly outlined in the Acts
of the Apostles (see for example Acts 8:1-8, 11:19-21). But although persecution and hard
times bring growth and revival to the church, we still need peace to be able to proclaim
the Good News of salvation freely and openly. We do not have to pray for bad times
and persecution as a means for revival. The church should know her mandate and the
commission given to her by the Lord Jesus, Matthew 28:18-20, and should not wait for
painful times to be able to go out and preach the Gospel.
How I long for a time when there are no wars! The prophet Isaiah talks about such a time
when people and nations will not fight each other. “Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.” … He (God) will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many people. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more”, Isaiah 2:3-4.
This is why we need to pray that long lasting peace comes to our nation and will enable
economic growth and development. As a nation, let us pray and work for true forgiveness
and national reconciliation. Let us remember the old Chinese wisdom that says, “He who
opts for revenge must dig two graves.” Revenge will just bring another grave, but
forgiveness and reconciliation will bring peace, healing, and re-building. “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”, 1 Timothy 2:1-2.
Let me conclude this article with Saint Francis of Assisi’s traditional prayer, a prayer that all of us need to pray especially in times of national crisis:
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God”, Matthew 5:9. Let us all become true peacemakers for the future of our beloved nation, South Sudan.
First printed in The Citizen newspaper, Juba, on 29-01-2014. Slightly amended here.
1. What will be the single greatest “peace dividend” for individuals?
2. What will be the single greatest “peace dividend” for the nations?
3. From the closing prayer, “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace”, consider at least
one practical way you can answer every one of the ten “Christian alternatives” asked for,
e.g. suggest how you can bring love instead of hatred.