ALARM believes that for transformation to take place in African communities, the church in Africa must play its God-given role as the primary agent of reconciliation. In east and central Africa, the church has been severely affected by tribal unrest and war, and is struggling to address tribalism and ethnic intolerance in a biblical and comprehensive manner. In areas hardest hit by violence, church leaders experience not only their own loss and suffering, but have to minister to that of their congregants as well. The cry for vengeance in the name of justice is sometimes louder than the biblical message of hope, forgiveness and reconciliation, resulting in church members and leaders aligning themselves with warring groups and either engaging with them or silently condoning their acts of violence and revenge. In addition, churches have periodically accepted gifts from politicians, and engaged in politics and tribalism; which have not only served to fuel suspicion, tribal hostility and division among churches, but have also served to silence them and render them ineffective as advocates of truth, justice, peace, biblical forgiveness and reconciliation during times of war and crisis.
Using biblically sound and culturally relevant curriculum, ALARM brings together pastors and church leaders from different tribes and denominations, and trains them in the role of the church in peacebuilding and social justice; conflict resolution processes and methods, biblical forgiveness, reconciliation, mediation of conflicts, human rights, human dignity and tribal tolerance, as well as trauma healing. This training provides a biblical framework in which the church can develop and implement transformative strategies for healing and reconciliation of the communities they serve.
One key example of this training is in Kenya. Following post-election tribal violence between December 2007 and February 2008 in which approximately 1,300 people died and 600,000 were internally displaced, a consortium of Christian organizations was established. ALARM was asked to spearhead reconciliation efforts and assist church leaders to develop a theological and Biblical framework of peacebuilding, justice and reconciliation ministries. ALARM offered training in a series of workshops and conferences for hundreds of pastors in the hardest hit areas, and was also instrumental in the development of the Seek Peace curriculum that is being used by the Hope for Kenya Forum as a resource for pastors in Kenya.
For reports and stories on the Hope for Kenya Forum and ALARM’s peacebuilding and reconciliation training for pastors and church leaders, click here.