Let us talk about peace: Church leaders preach forgiveness and reconciliation at Bentiu concert

27 Aug 2019

Let us talk about peace: Church leaders preach forgiveness and reconciliation at Bentiu concert

Before armed conflict erupted in South Sudan in 2013, Reverend John Manyang from the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church was leading five churches in the Unity area. With conflict, came destruction of church property and displacement, which saw him seek sanctuary at a United Nations protection of civilians site in Bentiu.

Every Sunday, he gathers more than five thousand internally displaced people who join him in prayer and calls for peace in South Sudan.

“As children of God, our people need to sit down and find solutions, so that our families and congregants can go back home safely,” said Reverend Manyang at a recent interfaith peace concert, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The displacement and destruction of property has left him in difficult living conditions, yet he does not believe in taking revenge. Instead, he is preaching forgiveness and reconciliation.

“We are called children of God and this is a time for peace and forgiveness,” Reverend Manyang John told the audience of more than five thousand people who filled a football pitch inside the UN protection site in Bentiu.

During the concert, church leaders and their congregants found a common ground to share messages of peace, and to speak about the revitalized peace agreement, whose copies were distributed by UNMISS during the concert.

“It is the role of the church to support our leaders in the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement and we hope that they will make it and bring peace,” Pastor Bukus Dirping Chan told the gathering as he delivered the opening prayer.

The message seemed to register well with their audience.

“This is a great opportunity for all of us to talk about peace. From churches and communities to the political chambers, this is the time to advocate for peace,” said James Puotur Majang, chairperson of the Community High Committee in the protection of civilians site.

“If everyone is involved in this proposed government, why can’t we make this peace agreement as our gospel of unity and reconciliations?”  wondered one member of the audience, following the reading of a passage from the peace agreement.

Other members of the public said they would read the peace agreement at home to familiarize themselves with what their leaders appended signatures on in Addis Ababa in September 2018.