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 5 of 23

4 Fall 2017 underlying sentiments to allow civil war in pursuit of their political agendas and personal interests, Achol maintains that education is the entry point for transformation in society: "If we want to give messages for peace and messages to fight corruption, we need to get the people educated." According to her, women play an important role in peacemaking and should already be encouraged to take up theological studies in preparation for the day when South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church's constitution will include a provision that allows women's ordination. And all girls should have the opportunity to get a basic education. "Schooling empowers girls. ey have to be able to decide for themselves. Because we don't want our girls, our daughters, to be hostages of wealth." Christi Boyd is a PC(USA) mission co-worker who serves as a facilitator for women and children's interests in Africa. Based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, she serves with her husband, Jeff, who is regional liaison for Central Africa. B orn to Dinka parents, Achol Majok Kur Kier, 54, is not inclined to conform to expectations that define her culture. Strong-willed, at a young age she refused the matrimonial candidate her parents had hand-picked from within their clan. Instead, she pursued university-level studies in Khartoum, Sudan, becoming a secondary school teacher in English, Arabic and history, and marrying, at age 29, the love of her life from another ethnic group. Aer God had blessed them with two children, they refused to give in to pressure from the in-laws to start a polygamous household and procreate a greater offspring. Beaming with fondness of her happy family life, Achol prides herself in serving as a model for younger generations of girls. As the South Sudanese people voted to break away from the oppressive regime in Khartoum with hopes of establishing a nation with egalitarian governance, the church also rejoiced in the greater prospects for God's lifegiving mission. For Achol this particularly meant breaking with those customs and written rules that perpetuate harmful and inequitable patterns, thereby denying shalom-for-all in God's household. Some traditions not only reinforce tribal identities but also feed ethnic tensions at the expense of peace. Reflecting grinding poverty, cultural practices allow destitute parents to give their young daughters in marriage in exchange for cattle, which perpetuates educational and economic disparities between genders. Still stifled by religious influences from the dominant Islamic culture in the north, legalistic conservatism in the church continues to exclude capable women from ordained ministry. While the political elite and their warlords have been feeding on International peacemaker believes education is key to peace in South Sudan Christi Boyd RECOGNIZING THE INSANITY OF VIOLENCE When asked about the need for trauma healing in children, Achol shared this young child's story: One day, there was very heavy shooting. A small girl of 7 years who had a 2-year-old brother looked at her brother, and then to the people around her, asking: "This one is a boy?" "Yes," they answered. "Why are you asking? He is your brother." Then she said, "And those who are shooting their guns are men? Those who are killing people, they are men?" They said, "Yes, they are men who are carrying guns." Then the girl said, "So, if these are men who are killing, why don't we just kill this child before he grows up . . . and starts killing people?" Achol Majok Kur Kier is an ordained deaconess in the South Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church (SSPEC). She serves as the elected chairperson for SSPEC's women's desk, and is an executive committee member in the South Sudan Council of Churches. Achol is one of 16 International Peacemakers touring the U.S. during the 2017 Season of Peace. Christi Boyd

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