As Christians around the world paused to celebrate the Christmas holidays, an outbreak in violence throughout the African continent began, with violence in the South Sudan and a failed coup attempt in the Democratic Republic of Congo and inter-religious violence in the Central African Republic.
As we collectively sit and watch these all-too-grim numbers begin to come in – over one thousand dead in the South Sudan, forty dead in the Congo and three dead in the Central AfricanRepublic – the World Methodist Council asks that its member churches pray for a peaceful resolution to the conflicts emerge as quickly as possible. These acts of violence, couple with recent bombings in Mogadishu, Somalia and the ongoing violence in Syria are troubling developments.
Whatever the reason for the violence – decades long fighting between neighbors or a misguided interpretation of one’s religious beliefs, we must all understand that there is no place for violence in this world. Leaders can never lead through fear and oppression and people will never truly follow the unjust. Instead, we must remember the true mandate for leadership is through the Lord, as written in Psalm 44:3 “For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.”
2014 is a new year and a time for new beginnings. During these precious first days a commitment to peace needs to be made again. The tireless work done in the South Sudan over the last decade by church leaders, civil society groups and members of the United States Congress to heal the wounds of this nation could be lost forever unless aid comes to help the world’s youngest country become something more than a failed state. During this country’s fragile infancy, other nations must look take upon a role of helping to stabilize and normalize the country – doing so will ensure further success as well as an easing of the suffering happening.
The World Methodist Council asks that we pray for resolutions and reconciliation in these stricken areas. We pray for safe travels for aid workers attempting to reach the areas to stop the outbreak of disease, and we pray for those who are struggling to keep the peace. In times like this, it seems like there is little-to-no reason and reassurance available for those caught in the middle. Let us go forth and great those affected with love and challenge those causing the violence with a righteous message of love and mercy.