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.

Issue link: https://missioncrossroads.epubxp.com/i/876779

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Page 4 of 23

Mission Crossroads 3 but bitterness festered deep in the hearts of neighbors because trust was compromised and grievances were ignored. Violence, once again, erupted in the capital and streamed into Jacob's town in July 2016. e new outpouring of brutality exceeded previous episodes. His town became the epicenter of chaos. Militia soldiers captured adjacent towns and positioned themselves to do the same to his town. More than 70 percent of the population fled and many of the remaining residents feared the worst. Once again, Jacob chose to stay. Businesses were looted, citizens were harassed and various sections of town were considered "no-go zones" due to the presence of soldiers. Violence escalated and became more inhumane. Mothers were gang-raped, families were burned in their homes and infants were thrown into the river. Eventually Jacob's home and the entire church compound were burned to the ground. His brother was gunned down, his mother fell sick and died and his own health deteriorated. e growing insecurity forced him to reassess how to best care for his neighbors. Ultimately, Jacob left with his neighbors. ey walked for five days with little food or water. Corpses littered the road at times, and along the way, two women went into labor. Fortunately, both babies survived. After walking, Jacob and his wife were able to get a ride on a motorcycle, which crashed, fracturing his wife's ribs and injuring his leg. ey arrived at the refugee camp tired, injured and worn down; their lives testimonies to the terror of war. ey have now been in the refugee camp for a month, and life continues to be unimaginably difficult. Jacob, however, is working to create a new narrative. He has been engaged in peer counseling in his camp. He also hopes to serve as a mediator among refugees as tension escalates between ethnic groups. While much is uncertain for South Sudan and its people, Jacob and peacebuilders like him are committed to ushering her to the gates of reconciliation. He inquires, "Are we going back [to our country] with our anger? Are we going back to loot? Are we going back to fight? We can go back and begin a new life … and build our nation in a way that people see themselves as one brother and one sister of one Father and one nation." The Revs. Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather are PC(USA) mission co-workers working with South Sudanese refugees living in refugee camps in Uganda in partnership with RECONCILE International. GIVE TO EDUCATION AND PEACEBUILDING IN SOUTH SUDAN Help South Sudan move toward a brighter future. pcusa.org/donate/E052172 South Sudanese families gather together to share their concerns with pastors about life in the refugee camps in Uganda. Shelvis Smith-Mather

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