Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Gwenda and I at a wedding in 2010

Introducing my sister Gwenda

Gwenda is my very special sister whom I love dearly. She is my only sibling, is two years younger than me, and has learning difficulties and autism. She is my best friend and my most faithful supporter! This photo, taken when she was unaware, is special because it shows her happy and carefree. Recently she has been seriously mentally ill, and the psychiatrist said she would probably take 6-12 months to recover. But after prayer from faithful supporters and some strangers from all over the world, she has made an amazing recovery. I'm so thrilled to have my sister back!

Through her I've also got to know many other precious people with learning difficulties. She is cared for by Prospects ( - an excellent Christian organisation caring for people with learning difficulties, helping them to live life to the full. Their care for her releases me to be able to do what God asks me to do. She lives just 3 miles away in a semi-detached home with two other people with learning difficulties, and when I'm home we spend most Saturdays together. We also like to go on holiday together from time to time, especially to Lee Abbey, Devon ( over Christmas, where we have a great time. Gwenda is a faithful member of Emmanuel Christian Centre in Llandudno.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A month-long Regional School of Reconciliation was held in Rwanda in May 2013.
Students came from Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, different places in Eastern DR Congo as well as Rwanda. They first went through the Healing the Wounds of Ethnic Conflict workshop after which they were trained to conduct the workshop themselves. They then split into 4 teams and went on outreach each with a coach to put their training into practice. 1 team went to Uganda, another to Goma, DRC and 2 stayed in Rwanda. The 3rd week was focussed on the Biblical principles of Community Development, and the last week on leadership and team issues. The students left with much enthusiasm to take the message back to their respective countries.

Feedback following the cross workshop.

Lucy (Kenya)
My parents separated when I was v young. I was brought up by mum, but was not disciplined. The first time I knew I had a father was the day he died. I was still young then. Later my mother died. I had loved her! So life was v hopeless. I got married young to find peace, but didn’t find it. I used to pray with a broken heart. I didn’t want to live. For a long time I wore a mask. My children have suffered. I’m despised in the church even though I am a pastor’s wife. Until yesterday I had so much pain. I had never felt loved. But since yesterday I am strong and healed. Now I can face the future without seeing it as a burden. I had wanted to take poison, but I brought all my problems to the cross yesterday. The heavy load on my heart was lifted. (Was radiant as she shared this!)

Thomas (South Sudan).
This is a school of love! I feared to tell my story. We are not allowed tears in our Dinka culture, but here I have wept. Gadhafi had decided to turn Sudan into a Muslim state and had sent an army to kill whoever was not Muslim. When I was 6 yrs, I heard shooting. Everyone was running so I ran one way with my brother and my family ran in another direction. We had no food and hardly any clothes because we had to sell them to get food. I ended up naked. We walked for 3 months. I joined a militia group and was trained in their camp. We were sent to Ethiopia to the war there, and there my brother was killed. When I went home I found my parents had also been killed and my siblings abducted, so I went back and joined the army to get revenge. There was a church and a school in the army, so I read the Bible. In the middle of one attack, I read ‘Love your enemies’. I was angry, saying that this was not possible. But the Bible kept opening in the same verse. So I threw the Bible away. Later there was a lull in the fighting and I was bored, so I went looking for my Bible. When I opened it, I read, ‘With God all things are possible’. So I knelt in the bush and surrendered my life to God.  I escaped from the army and fled across the border into a Kenyan refugee camp.  Here I took in some Sudanese street children to care for them so that I could have a family. I went to secondary school and attended an Anglican Church. Later I was ordained as an Anglican priest, and returned to Sudan. These days are so important for me. No one ever said to me, ‘I love you’. I had no father to help me, even when I had to pay 120 cows for a dowry! I even married to get a mother’s love and care. Here I have found a loving Father and people who love me. (Would have continued much longer if there had been time!)

Claver (Burundi).
I am an evangelist, but I was so wounded. I was born into a poor family. My father couldn’t send us to school. The little money he had, he drank it and beat my mother. After conversion, I left home to live in a church. I tried to go to school but sometimes didn’t even have a pen. My siblings were scattered here and there and couldn’t go to school, so I left education to try to help my family. I had so much hatred in me, especially when my brother and sister were killed. I’m a Tutsi and decided to marry, and the one God showed me was a Hutu. Others opposed and I found that there was also ethnic discrimination in church. I was very discouraged - my family even refused her food. We married and went through much hardship. I was persecuted and told I had lost my mind. Since being here I have found myself forgiving & my heart is peaceful now.

Alexander (Congo)
I’m a Bishop with many parishes. I came here with pain and anger for many reasons – it had been there a long time. I have to hear the pain of others and try to help, but it was hard for me to find a place to unburden my own heart. But here I had the opportunity, especially yesterday in the cross workshop. Today I feel free! That was God’s time for me. The teachings and whole format are very helpful for me. I have found healing!

Abraham (N. Kenya)
I came here to be strengthened because I was very wounded, bitter and angry because of what I went through. We can even be each other’s enemy in ministry! I am an Anglican priest, and I live in a remote place with a forgotten people, a different tribe from my own. We are at the end of the road! It feels as if we are not really in Kenya. There is much insecurity and it’s not easy to preach. I went out to preach and was ambushed. Our tyres were shot and I was thrown in the air. My leg felt numb and I later discovered I had 2 bullets in it. One bullet was removed in hospital but the other is still there. I was in hospital for 3 months. I was shocked because I discovered my co-workers had become my enemies! No-one visited me to pray or help me. They just phoned once to ask if I had stolen the collection! I was taken to Nairobi to another hospital, and there I learnt that I had been transferred to another place. There I was shot again! No-one cared when I didn’t have a good home for my new-born baby, who became sick and was hospitalized. My fellow church workers told me they didn’t care! I began to think, ‘Who is my brother?’ I wanted to resign from the ministry. My blood pressure was very high and at times I was seeing double. I could not forgive. My wife was my only comforter. But yesterday I found peace from God. I was set free from my anger, pain and bitterness. I wept the whole of the last 2 days. Mahoro’s testimony challenged me so much (genocide survivor & orphan). She could forgive after all she suffered! Her story was much worse than mine.  Yesterday when I nailed everything at the cross, my burden left me and last night I slept so well! I’ll go back and tell then I have forgiven them. I will also ask forgiveness for any way I have wronged them.

Jeanne d’Arc (Rwanda).
I love you all so much! I must love, because I have never been loved – from early childhood to this day. My parents divorced, then both died. I was rejected by my family and by everyone else. I wanted to kill myself. I thought I was the cause of all my problems. I thought marriage would bring me love, but it didn’t. My children were my only reason for staying alive. No-one knows what I’ve been going through. I’m a pastor, but have also been wounded by my fellow leaders. We have gone through many topics here and I have seen myself in every topic! All the problems were in me! I was so wounded. I had closed my heart and withdrawn into myself. Nothing interested me. I had left my job to serve God, but it has been miserable! I was convicted by the teaching on infected wounds. I had many diseases for which there was no explanation. I have been to many workshops but this one is different. God is saying to me that this is the time for my healing. I know I will this place a new person with a new identity.

Pierre Claver (Burundi)
I have been to a HWEC before, but healing is a process. I didn’t experience love from a father. When I was 7 years old, my mum told me on the way to school, ‘That is your father’. I respect women not men because my mother loved me. When Rhiannon taught on the heart of God, I realised I have a Father who cares. It really touched me. When I came up for prayer, I felt the love of the Father. I had never felt this before – I had no close relationship with my heavenly Father. I realised yesterday we were missing things. The focus in church is on sin, not pain and sorrows. But so many are wounded. The drama (taking burdens to the cross) showed me what I should do. After giving Him my pain I feel free. Now I pray to a loving Father who provides all my needs. I pray that this will change my whole way of living. All the testimonies have been so helpful.

Japhet (Burundi)
I received death threats by my own tribe for betrayal because I befriended children from the other tribe. I had never been taught discrimination at home. I wanted to build houses to welcome everyone! I gave away so much to needy people. In this HWEC as I have been listening to people giving testimonies, I want to take them home to help them. I love you! My wife was wounded and I was not able to love her because I didn’t understand her woundedness. I want to give my life to serve the suffering ones. Please pray for me.

Brief feedback at the end of HWEC.  What did HWEC mean to you?

-       I received a good understanding re causes of inner and the means of healing at the cross
-       It helped me realize the seriousness of unhealed ethnic wounds
-       I was very edified. From the depth of my heart I can say I have been helped. I understand wounds – we are all wounded – also the means of healing for wounded people.
-       I understand the real meaning of prejudice and the cure through the cross
-       We are among those who cause our own wounds. We need to learn tolerance and bring our wounds to Jesus
-       My heart is thirsty to see Christians change and our countries healed and the world in peace
-       Learning how wounds can be healed touched me very much and I myself was healed
-       I understood suffering & the Father heart of God.
-       I’m loved whatever my skin colour because I’m His beloved daughter.
-       God has given His only Son for me
-       I must go deep into God’s Word in the Spirit & know that God is not responsible for our sufferings. To bring healing & reconciliation and see people changed, we must first be changed and not point fingers but look at our responsibility also
-       It’s amazing to have this opportunity because all are wounded. There is healing for our wounds. We must express ourselves to God.
-       I have been forgiven o I must forgive others. I have forgiven my father for the first time. Previously I had decided never to forgive him.
-       I experienced a way of healing by casting my burdens at the cross.

(There wasn’t time to hear from everyone…

Worship led by Joel from Beni, DRC
Reconciliation between Europe and Africa

Reconciliation between African countries
Thomas, South Sudan, at the King's Table

Joy at the King's Table
 Brief report from the outreach

“The outreach was very good. The debrief was very encouraging. In Goma and Uganda, the teams met large groups. The time was short but all the teams taught all the topics and were amazed to see the impact. A lot of tears in Congo and Uganda. The GBU and Uganda team were amazed to see that the new guys managed to teach all the topics in 2 days. In Goma, a lady renounced to commit suicide. Another forgave Rwanda despite all evidence of its involvement with M 23. In Uganda, a lady who rejected males in general and marriage renounced her vowed after going to the cross. Some people in Uganda thought the cross workshop was some kind of witchcraft, the team had to pray hard on the side and the greatest opponent left with the greatest testimonies of healing. When the team saw the youth 18-25 years coming in the hall in Rubavu, some of them thought they were about to waste their time because they believed young people don't know anything. They were surprised by the intensity of hate, mainly among the Hutu whose parents have been killed by the RPF. One Burundian said 'I used to think that Rwanda is a bunch of hypocrite who pretend everything is okay but I was convicted by God when these young Hutu were sharing openly their anger against the Tutsi. The teams are very excited. They got new friends, are invited in those places. They gained confidence.”

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Back to Sri Lanka Feb/March 2013

 HWEC participants
NCC, LEADS and Assemblies agree to work together to promote the HWEC reconciliation ministry in Sri Lanka, and select 60 key people to attend another 3-day HWEC. This is the first time all 3 organisations have conducted an event together! This time I am joined by Joseph Nyamutera from Rwanda and Drs Derek & Mary Munday from the UK.

 Ex-Tamil Tiger

In spite of several challenges especially related to translation into Tamil and Sinhala, we experience the Holy Spirit doing a deep healing work and there are several moving testimonies at the end. An ex-Tamil Tiger states that he is planning to learn Sinhala so that he can comfort the other side! Someone leading an Inter-faith healing and reconciliation workshop states that this is the first time he has been able to deal with his own wounds. He says his workshops will be different from now on. A lecturer at a Bible College simply says: "I have been healed'.

 InterFaith seminar facilitator
 Repentance time by British

 I have been healed!
Tea Plantations
24 participants are selected to come back in 4 days' time to be trained to conduct the HWEC themselves. In the meantime we visit the Central Highlands and meet people involved in seeking to help the communities living on the Tea Plantations, who have many needs. They are delighted that someone has remembered them.

Pastors in Nuwara Eliya,  Central Highlands

 Commissioning the teams

This was followed by a 5-day training mainly conducted by Joseph, resulting in forming 4 teams to continue the ministry in Sri Lanka - one in the North, one in the East, one in the Central Highlands and one in Colombo. We commission them in a moving ceremony, where each person is given a candle, to symbolise being light-bearers.

Roshan Mendis - director of LEADS
who will oversee the teams

Reconciliation ministry begins in Asia. Sri Lanka April/May 2012

Through the Micah Network, I'm invited to Sri Lanka. Cathy from Le Rucher accompanies me. First we visit different parts of the Island and meet the different groups to better understand the history of the conflict.
24 Christian leaders associated with the National Christian Council attend a HWEC in Colombo to asses if HWEC is suitable for Sri Lanka, as Sri Lanka is a multi-faith country and the Christian church is a small minority. HWEC is a Biblical seminar, aimed first at healing the church.

Tamils and Singhalese take their wounds to the cross.

75% of those present decide it is suitable, as there are ethnic divisions within the church.  It is decided to also contact the Evangelical Alliance and the Assemblies of God church as they are the main other Christian bodies in Sri Lanka.

resurrecting this blog!

So sorry for the long silence. Hope this will be remedied soon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

More healing and reconciliation in Kenya

Following the workshop in Zimbabwe a healing and reconciliation workshop was help in Nakuru in Kenya's Rift valley. Tensions are still high there after the post-election violence. Wounds are still open and festering.
47 people from 6 different tribes in the Kericho diocese attended the workshop and the atmosphere at first was tense and uneasy. Anastase from Rwanda and Basara from Congo joined me to run the workshop, and 2 participants from the previous MU workshop also came to help. As in Zimbabwe, the Thief session was very significant with the tribes listing their losses and later taking them to the cross. In the cross workshop the tribes are deliberately mixed in small groups. Their response to this was one of shock. Before they had hardly shared their pains and sorrows even with their own tribes. Now they were so shocked that they had sat with their 'enemies' and poured out their hearts to each other! They had even wept together and prayed together! They declared that this had been nothing short of a miracle! Some were so excited that they began to phone home, not only to tell their friends and families, but also to call their enemies to see if they could meet and work things out. The next day so many of them testified of a change of heart and the freedom to forgive. They said they were seeing the other tribes as brothers for the first time.
During the repentance time I again felt I should wash the feet of the most senior member as a sign of deep repentance for the way we British had ruled them. As idid so he kept speaking out words of forgiveness while many began to weep. Then for the next hour and a half, the various tribes began to come forard confessing the sins of their tribes. Other came forward to embrace and forgive.
The King's Table celebration of unity was like a big party - full of joy! After each tribe was affirmed and blessed, each tribe gave a demonstration of praise in their culture, and everyone else joined in the singing and dancing. The following morning they divided into groups to amke plans of how they would take the message into their communities. Each group lifted up a lit candle as symbol that they would 'rise and shine' in their localites.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Healing and Reconciliation in Zimbabwe

At a recent healing and reconciliation workshop in Matapos, 24 participants found deep healing at the Cross. Shona, Ndebele and Whites drew up a list of what the Thief (Jn 10:10) had stolen from their peoplegroup down the generations and what their resulting false beliefs were. Much pain became evident. All this as well as personal painful histories were nailed to a Cross as they entrusted themselves and their peoplegroups to the crucified but risen Lord.
The next day I felt constrained as a British citizen to wash the feet of a leading Shona and Ndebele in an attitude of repentance for our history of oppressive colonial rule there. Many began to weep and some began to declare forgiveness. Following this Shona and Ndebele began to spontaneously wash each other's feet and this went on for more than an hour.
That evening was a joyous celebration of new-found unity at the King's Table where the tribes affirmed and blessed each other. They are now eager to be trained to run the workshop themselves and take the message of healing and reconciliation throughout Zimbabwe.

It was a joy to have maria from the team in South Africa join me as co-facilitator. She was a great blessing to all.