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Uganda: Refugee Bible School Attacked and Reopened

Posted on: January 17, 1997 1:09 PM
Related Categories: Uganda

The Bishop Alison Bible School in Koboko in north-west Uganda was razed to the ground at the end of October by Ugandan rebels believed to be sponsored by the Government of Khartoum in their attempt to get the Sudanese refugees in the area back into the Sudan. Families were made to stay inside their houses as the grass roofs were set alight. Only when the smoke and fire were threatening to kill them were people let out.

The Bishop Alison Bible School provides training for people from the Sudanese Diocese of Yei who have escaped from the civil war in the Sudan. Rebels attacked the school and the neighbouring Koboko Archdeaconry Training Centre setting light to both of them. The principal of the Archdeaconry Training Centre was threatened at gunpoint by the rebels because of his role in sheltering Sudanese refugees.

No-one was badly injured in the attack although all the mud and thatched buildings have been destroyed leaving staff, students, and their families without housing or belongings.

After the attack the students and their families evacuated the area and went to the town of Arua where tents were issued by the UNHCR and Red Cross. Now, thanks to the hospitality of the Diocese of Madi and the West Nile, accommodation has been found for them and the school rehoused. CMS has appealed for extra finances to help provide emergency provisions for the refugees.

In January Archbishop and Lady Eames went to Arua to open the new Bible School. The Archbishop also preached at the consecration of Bishop Eliaba Menesona of the new Sudanese Diocese of Lainya and visited Sudanese refugee camps in Uganda. Lady Eames, who is World President of the Mothers' Union, visited Mothers' Union groups in the camps and other women's initiatives.

Graham and Janet Buttanshaw, CMS missionaries at the school write of the experience in October: "Gunfire seemed everywhere, yet miraculously no-one was badly hurt. Our house was riddled with bullets, but we were not there. We had already been advised to leave the site, and were staying in Arua. Among our rescued belongings we found a card with Jesus' words: 'Peace I leave with you: my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid'. The words are beautifully printed. The card is on the table beside me as I write this letter. It has been ripped apart by a bullet. It's so easy for fine words to be ripped apart by human cruelty. How can peace withstand the harsh realities of human violence? Is it left in shreds like the card? Peace seems so fragile." The Buttanshaws then reflect on the birth of Jesus the Prince of Peace in their Christmas letter and go on to say: "Fear and troubles abound. Yet in the hearts of many, where we might expect only bitterness and despair, there is light and there is peace. Deep peace, inner peace. The peace of Christ. Not always. Sometimes just enough to keep out despair. But a miraculous presence that defies the outward realities."