Sudan (MNN) — South Sudan rebels
who fought in the 22-year civil war are now part of the world's biggest
demobilization of its kind.
The United Nations hoped that
180,000 former fighters would pass through the Disarmament, Demobilization and
Reintegration (DDR) program, a key part of the 2005 peace deal that ended the
conflict between north and south in which an estimated 1.5 million people died.
Combatants from the former rebel
Sudan People's Liberation Army are supposed to be demobilized in southern Sudan
in the first phase of the operation. It's
a sign that the country is serious about trying to move toward a sustained
Although that is good news, Lee DeYoung with Words
of Hope says tribal conflict still exists. "One study
recently suggested that the death toll in the past year in South Sudan has
actually been higher than in Darfur or that during the years of the civil war.
This indicates a huge need for peace and reconciliation."
Words of Hope broadcasts the
Gospel into Sudan in Nuer, Dinka, Arabic and Bari. DeYoung says coupled with the number of
Christians in the region, "That would seem to provide a basis for peace
and reconciliation through the common commitment to Jesus Christ."
Since September 2008, Words of
Hope has been broadcasting programs in the Bari language in Yei through Spirit
FM. DeYoung says that when listeners
hear broadcasts in their "heart" language, it opens doors for
"For people who are a
minority in a given place," DeYoung says, "hearing their language
being spoken on the radio gives them a sense of validation, and there's an
immediate interest in tuning in."
To better respond, WOH joined a
partnership between the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC) and the Reformed
Church of America (RCA). "We will be cooperating more closely with an
organization that's called 'Reconcile.' It exists in order to foster a dialogue
leading to peace and reconciliation among Sudanese peoples."
According to the RCA, that includes
a wide range of churches as well as relief, development and Christian education
The NSCC has organized peace
conferences throughout the south, where Christians work to bring communities
together for healing. This movement has been internationally recognized as one
of the few movements that has produced a lasting peace. This is due largely to
the commitment of Christians at the grassroots levels to follow the Prince of
Peace in a ministry of reconciliation.
In the aftermath of the civil
war, RCA missionaries work with Sudanese church leaders through RECONCILE (the
Resource Centre for Civil Leadership). RECONCILE is the program arm of the NSCC
designed to promote reconciliation, trauma healing, and civic education.