The Mabaan Church stands for peace
By Sandy Ewan | Sudan and South Sudan in East Africa
Photos by Amy Ashcraft
It seems that the strengthening of our faith in Jesus often comes through difficult circumstances: interpersonal relationships, raising our children, personal or family crises, difficulties in studies or conflicts. Here in South Sudan, one of the major avenues the Lord uses to strengthen his church is conflict.
In early December 2020, fighting broke out in the southern region of our Mabaan County between two groups of young men. What once was a small fight, soon spread quickly, with more than five villages affected and houses looted and burned. Many people were forced out and came to live in Doro, camping under the trees with their children.
Many attempts have been made to bring peace between these two groups of young men with no results. Through the efforts of the local government, the UN and several Sudan Interior Church pastors, a Peace and Reconciliation Committee formed. In mid-January, through the guidance of Mabaan pastors, people were encouraged to pray for peace and a Sunday service was dedicated for prayer. More than one hundred people arrived at the Doro church, took off their shoes, sat on the floor and petitioned the Lord to stop the fighting. They prayed for reconciliation.
During this time, Pastor Andrew was fasting and praying. One night, the Lord spoke to him in a dream. In this dream, he saw seven stones. The stones were in pairs and in a row with the last stone at the top. During this dream, he saw a hand come down and separate the first two stones. Then he saw the same thing happen with the second and third group of stones, leaving the last stone at the top alone. When he woke up, he asked the Lord to explain the meaning of this dream, but he got no answer. In all of this, Andrew felt strongly that the Lord was telling him to travel to Liang Village to speak with one of the main youth militia groups stationed there.
Andrew met with another pastor to pray and discuss the possibility of travelling to southern Mabaan. After a week of praying, other pastors and godly women felt the Lord leading them to join these two pastors. And so, a group of 13 people committed to go. The Peace and Reconciliation Committee gave them permission to travel to Liang and the government drove them part of the way in their vehicles. They would have to walk after that.
On the morning they were leaving, the group prayed together. They were driven to the Dangaji Bridge. After walking across, a small group of young men with guns met them. Andrew told them they had come to speak with their commanding officer about peace. This group of young men then stepped to either side of the road and let them pass. They reached a second checkpoint, where another group of armed youth met them. Again, Andrew spoke with these young men, who then opened the way for them to pass. They reached a third checkpoint. Andrew recounted that, when they approached this third group, the armed young men wept! They led them to their leadership. The pastors identified themselves as having come from the Mabaan Church and said they came in peace. They asked for the fighting to end since many had already been killed.
When Andrew returned home, the Lord reminded him of his dream and how his obedience and peacemaking fulfilled it.
Things don’t always get wrapped up nicely with a bow on top. An agreement for peace from one group may not necessarily be adopted by the other. When the Mabaan youth from the opposing side heard about the ceasefire they were angry. Some wanted to take revenge on Andrew and have even threatened to kill these pastors!
In all of this, I am reminded of Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Standing up for God’s ways and going against culturally held values can be costly.
Pray with us
Please pray for all our Mabaan pastors. Pray they would be strong in their faith and would follow God’s instructions. Pray they encourage their people to do the same.