love drives out fear in the land

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[Nairobi, Kenya, TCT] The Book of 1st John 4:18a says that, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment”. This basically says that where there is love, there will be no fear amongst people. And where there is no fear, there is freedom for people to live and do what they need to do.

Last weekend I attended a meeting that was organized with an aim to bring together South Sudanese living in Nairobi, to talk about peace and what needs to be done for sustainable peace to prevail in their young nation.

I expected hundreds of people to turn up for the meeting, but I was disappointed by the small number of people who attended – less than 20.

We recieve almost dailyfrom South Sudan, the news of violence and political instability, and many people are either refugees within the country or outside the country. The latest reports from humanitarian agencies predict that over 4 million people will face starvation early next year if the situation continues as it is now.

These facts shows that restoration of peace is an urgent matter for the country, and all citizens need to be part of the solution to the problems facing the youg country. This is the more reason why I was disappointed by the small number of participants in the meeting. I expected South Sudanese themselves to turn up in big numbers whenever they hear of opportunities giving them a flatform to discuss how to restore peace in their country. 

Upon enquiry, I was told that one of the reasons many people decided to stay away from the meeting was because of fear that they may be marked as belonging to those who are opposed to the government and end up facing some unspecified consequences. I found this rather disturbing because I expected hundreds of people to attend the event, just so that they can be able to share their experiences, and learn from one another and propose what can be done to bring the country together again.

It was disheartening to hear those who came expressing their disappointment with the way things are happening in the country, with an increase in ethnic-based hate speech from young people and even the educated. Speakers said it is the young people who are mostly used to create and sustain violence. But even the educated and the elites, who are supposed to be the voice of reason in the society, have failed to rise up to the occasion and they are themselves perpetrating ethnicity and hatred.

People have not learned how to forgive

The peace meeting, and many other similar meetings, are perfect forums for people of different ages, ethnicities and social classes to come together and talk about what afflicts the nation. In my view, this was a perfect opportunity for citizens of South Sudan to come together and start the process of healing and reconciliation.

One lady who was a participant said that one thing that is lacking in South Sudan is that people have not learned how to forgive one another. She said many people are bitter and revengeful. This ought to change for the country to heal. She believed that if people learn to forgive each other, peace may prevail.

Reconciliation cannot happen in an environment where there is fear. it can never happen where people cannot freely meet and express themselves. As one of the participants Dr. Alfred Lokuji said, people should be free to speak their minds without fear. He also said, “If we want peace, we must learn to associate with other people”. This is important. 

It is through such a forum that was organized by Gurtong Trust which can help people learn to associate with others, and hear other people’s points of view, which might be different from theirs.

Reconciliation and healing cannot happen in an environment of intolerance and suspicion. As some speakers said, leaders in South Sudan must give up pursuit of power in order to restore peace in the country.  Proverbs 11:10 says that “when the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish there are shouts of joy”. If South Sudanese want to rejoice once again in their land, they should not allow wickedness of any kind to prosper in the land!

They should embrace love, which will help drive out fear that keeps people from coming together and sharing about how the country can be run better.

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