Mission Crossroads

FAL 2017

Mission Crossroads is a three-time-a-year magazine focused on worldwide work of the PC(USA). It offers news and feature stories about mission personnel, international partners and grassroots Presbyterians involved in God's mission in the world.

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2 Fall 2017 peacebuilding. Consider Jacob's story. In December 2013, civil war erupted in the capital city. Many in his town sensed tragedy on the horizon and fled to the border of South Sudan and Uganda for safety. As convoys of vehicles packed with residents raced away, Jacob chose to stay, even though danger marched toward his community. Jacob witnessed soldiers clashing in its fields, spilling blood in its streams and darkening the sky from huts set ablaze. He cared for victims, prayed for soldiers and fed those seeking refuge behind church walls. A peace agreement was signed after thousands of lives were lost across the nation. Life then became "stable" for a time in Jacob's town. Shops reopened and people returned from hiding, R econciliation is a sacred space where weary bodies are refreshed and troubled souls are soothed, where the roar of oppression is silenced and the calm of compassion resounds. e pathway to her gates is long and grueling with setbacks, detours and delays; stationed beyond the boundaries of fear, hurt and bitterness; and far past the edges of contempt, anger and hatred. Along the journey to reconciliation lie ambushes of criticism and alienation, yet those on the journey press on like flocks of birds surging through cold winds for warmer homes. ey press on like herds tracking through wilderness, thirsting for cool streams. ey press on like young sprouts stretching upward through the cracks of concrete toward the sun. eir success is our inspiration and their failure is our loss; our lives are intertwined. Reconciliation is a distant place — far from the battlefields of South Sudan — yet not beyond reach. Most citizens of the war-weary nation of South Sudan yearn for change, pray for it and plead for it. ey were born and raised in war and know its horrors all too well. Among those working for change is the Rev. Jacob Karaba. He was a member of the first graduating class of the RECONCILE Peace Institute (RPI), launched in 2009 by PC(USA)'s longtime partner RECONCILE International. rough RPI, he studied with a select group of peacebuilders from other conflict zones. At RPI, participants build meaningful relationships with leaders from other ethnic groups while being led through a three-month course on peer counseling and mediation. is training is facilitated by leading peacebuilders from around the world who are on the forefront of social change in their countries. e classes are a dynamic blend of discussions, lectures, role-play activities, group activities, case studies, debates and practicums. Since graduating, Jacob has used his skills in varying seasons of conflict. He has mediated disagreements among local clans, ministered to survivors of violence and pastored communities vexed by war. He credits RPI with giving him training to deal with the complexity of conflict and trauma. Seasons of turmoil may demand different responses, so peacebuilders need a host of skills and approaches to reconciliation. Conflict is overwhelming, messy and can be all-consuming — so is Pastoring in war A testimony of resilience and reconciliation in South Sudan Shelvis Smith-Mather The Rev. Jacob Karaba (left), vice chair of RECONCILE Peace Institute's Alumni Chapter, with Shelvis Smith-Mather, RPI principal and PC(USA) mission co-worker, as they reunite after a year of unrest in South Sudan. Nancy Smith-Mather

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