Ripples of Forgiveness in South Sudan
John Chol Daau, one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” was forced to flee his village when it was attacked and destroyed by the Sudanese military. Years later, he has now returned to South Sudan and started a school in Juba with a vision of raising up a generation of Christian leaders to work for peace and justice in their war-torn country.
In recent months, John and his staff have been reading and discussing Plough’s book Why Forgive?, by Johann Christoph Arnold, and report that it has had a profound effect on their community, inspiring a movement toward forgiveness, reconciliation, and personal repentance. John writes, “We would read two chapters before we gathered for a two-hour discussion. It was such a discipleship class, a bonding session, and a teaching opportunity. We had heated discussions about issues such as polygamy and forgiving extremists. We ended with a day of reflection to which teachers and staff brought their friends and spouses.” As a result one man publicly forgave a soldier who had shot him two years ago.
Building Peace in Colombia
Since 1958, more than 220,000 people have died in Colombia’s civil war. Now, as a tenuous peace takes hold, Mennonite Colombians are actively working to heal their country’s wounds and divisions through forgiveness. A peacemakers camp this summer brought together about fifty people from Guatemala, Mexico, Australia, the United States, and Colombia – including former combatants and victims – for fellowship and workshops on conflict resolution, conscientious objection, and victim–offender dialogue. Jardely Martinez, an event organizer, said, “Our vision is to have an open space, a place of peace where God can hear us and we can hear the history of each person who has suffered the consequences of war.” Attendees received copies of Plough’s book Setenta veces siete: reconciliación en nuestra sociedad, the same book making waves in South Sudan.