Photo Credit: The internal province of Bahr el Ghazel
The solution to the conflict in South Sudan lies with committed Christians and the Church rather than the government or international community, the archbishop of the internal province of Bahr el Ghazel has said. Writing in the September edition of Renewal, the province’s quarterly magazine, Archbishop Moses Deng Bol said that the peace would come when Christians acted out Jesus’ teaching on the greatest commandment in Luke Chapter 10.
“According to Jesus my neighbour is anyone who is near me at anytime regardless of their tribe, race or colour, gender, age, height or size,” he said. “In Mathew 7:12 Jesus gave the answer to the question of how do I love my neighbour as myself in what is now known as the golden rule: ‘So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.’”
He continued: “So the rule is that you use your own feelings to determine how you treat others. In other words before you do anything to someone else, you ask yourself what if that person was to do it to me, will I like it or not? If not then don’t do it to him or her because he or she will not like it too. If yes then do it because he or she will like it as well.
“This is because all human beings are the same regardless of their tribe, race, colour or gender. This brings us to Genesis 1:26-27 which says that all human beings both male and female are created in God’s image.”
The archbishop said: “the problem of South Sudan therefore is that many of us are Christians by name and by going to church on Sundays but we have not been taught to understand and obey Jesus teachings as he stated in the great commission in Mathew 28:16-end.”
In his message, he wrote about a sermon he preached to village elders near the border of Nuer and Dinka land. “I asked the elders whether any of them would like the Nuer to come to his village and kill him, his wife and children, take his cows and burn his house. They all responded with a big NO.
“Then I asked them who among you would like the Nuer to come to Toch (the swampy / grassing area where Nuer and Dinka herders meet during the dry season) stay peacefully performing their Nuer cultural dances and then say goodbye to the Dinka herders during the rainy season as they go back to their villages. All of them said that is what they wanted.
“So I told them to do to the Nuer what they want the Nuer to do to them.”
Afterwards, the village chief asked whether the same message was being preached to Nuer people on the other side of the border. “He said he believed that if the Nuer Bishop was preaching the same message to the Nuer as I was doing to the Dinkas it would take less than two years for the conflict between the Nuer and the Dinka communities to stop without any intervention of the police or army.
“I told the Chief that I believed the Nuer Bishop was preaching the same message to the Nuer and I also believed that the conflict between the Nuer and the Dinka will stop within less than two years if Dinkas obeyed the commandment even if the Nuer Bishop was not preaching the same message on the other side. This is because I believe that Nuer will not attack Dinka villages more than three times if Dinkas were to defend themselves from their attack but not take revenge by attacking Nuer villages also.”
The archbishop reiterated the call by the Episcopal Church of South Sudan for a “genuine and inclusive national dialogue . . . which we hope will address the root the causes of the conflict and find a way forward based on unity in diversity,” adding: “So our role as Christians therefore is to raise awareness among our communities of the importance of respecting the values of other communities if they want other communities to respect their values because this is what the great commandment is all about.”