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God’s invitation for us to abide in God as God abides in us is not an invitation to settle down and get comfortable. It is a call to mission, a summons to fruitfulness. We are meant to share the fruits of the divine life with others. – Brother David Vryhof
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PHOTO - SOUTH SUDAN
Reflection by Ida Kaastra Mutogio
We live in a broken world where many people cry out for peace but cannot find it. Why is there no peace? Paul Collier in his book The Bottom Billion explains that 73 percent of the bottom billion people in this world, who live in extreme poverty (less than $2 a day), have recently been in, or continue to be in, a civil war. There is a vicious cycle that feeds poverty, he says, since these civil wars last for an average of seven years, reduce growth by 2.3 percent a year, and cost a country and its neighbors an average of 64 billion dollars. Collier finds that countries with a low level of income, slow economic growth, and/or dependence on primary commodity exports are most prone to civil war.
Justin is a young man from South Sudan who knows the depth of crying for peace during civil war. Violent acts from major conflicts took the life of eight of his relatives this year. Who can imagine losing so many loved ones in one year? Even for World Renew staff, the high level of war and insecurity has resulted in leaving their work in Yei in South Sudan. Most of our national staff now live in refugee camps in Uganda.
How will you respond to these cries for peace? God calls us to serve as his hands of mercy and feet of justice. We offer essential humanitarian assistance of food, water, and shelter for refugees. We guide churches in their efforts to support refugees coming to Canada and the United States. We train leaders of churches in South Sudan in trauma healing and reconciliation, motivated by peace in Christ. And yet, more needs to be done to advocate for long-lasting peace. That means encouraging every citizen in Canada and the U.S. to pray for peace and good governance. It means appealing to political leaders to enact fair-trade policies and practices as well as to forgive debts that keep a country like South Sudan in perpetual economic crisis.
Peace, I have come to realize, is really the river of justice flowing out of love. It’s all about the love that God has to give but that doesn’t always reach us or the people we serve because we have accepted the building of dams of injustice, isolation, and broken relationships in our lives and between communities around the world. When all of the love that God has to offer continues to gather up in his eyes with no other place to go, I can only imagine that his unending tears begin to flow.
During this Advent season, I am deeply touched by the reminder of God’s enormous gift of love, sending his own Peace Child so that we can have peace with him when there is no peace in the world. Even more, I am inspired to repent of greed and deceit, to give generously, and to advocate for just policies that change the story of war to his story of peace. How about you? How will you respond and pass the peace of Christ to your neighbors around the world this Christmas season and in the coming year?
Lord, thank you for the love you show us through the gift of your Son. May the knowledge of this gift give us strength to seek justice and peace even when it feels impossible. Bring your peace, healing, and reconciliation to South Sudan. Amen
(today's reflection first shared in the Office of Social Justice & World Renew Advent Devotional)