Coming To The Table
Posted on October 03, 2016
In July, violence once again erupted in Juba, South Sudan. Three hundred people were killed and tens of thousands fled their homes. ALARM’s staff wasn’t exempt from the violence. One colleague had a rocket shot through his house and explode next door, killing his neighbor. The war-weary city was on edge.
It was into this environment that, after much prayer and deliberation, I led a team in early August to conduct a justice conference. The men and women who attended—lawyers, pastors, and military chaplains—were desperate for hope and encouragement, and the Holy Spirit provided. We started with a trauma healing session, since everyone in the room had experienced trauma, and they were grateful for the opportunity to talk about it. Then each of the facilitators (a lawyer from Philadelphia, a criminal magistrate judge from Texas, and a Texas Supreme Court justice) shared from their own experiences, which were woven beautifully into presentations on personal peacemaking, ethics, and good governance.
At the end of our time together, the participants started considering what God was calling them to do in South Sudan. They saw that things are not hopeless. God has not forgotten them. Each of them has a role to play in the place where God has them, whether as a pastor, a lawyer, or a military chaplain. They walked away with hope, and given the situation in South Sudan, that’s saying something. One young lawyer said he’d never heard that the Bible had anything to say to him as a lawyer, and he wanted to learn more. The Honorable John Jock, a member of Parliament who attended, promised to get the trauma healing teaching in front of the entire Parliament. We even had the opportunity to meet with some Supreme Court justices—learning about their struggle to bring the rule of law to this young country, and praying for them.
I still don’t know whether we should have gone to South Sudan in August. Most people would look at the decision to go and say we were crazy. Maybe we were. But God, in his mercy, kept us safe, and the conference impacted people more deeply than it would have if things had been stable. We went in feeling grossly inadequate to help and saw God use our mere presence to encourage people. It was not about what we as Americans or lawyers brought to the table. It was about coming to God’s table and sharing in his provision for all of us during the week.
Please pray for the people of South Sudan. So many have lost their homes. Millions are on the verge of starvation. From a human perspective, it appears hopeless. But I saw people there who are believing that God will be faithful to his promises and provide for them. People who are remembering that they are not forgotten at God’s table. And that changes everything.