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Archive for October, 2009

Do you remember this song:  “Hide it under a bushel?  “No!  I’m gonna let it shine!”

Well, it’s time to let your light shine!

Are you involved in peace or social justice issues in Trinity Presbytery?   Do you know of opportunities for volunteers?  Is your church of group involved in something you’d like to share information about?  If so, please share your story on this blog.

Email proposed blog entries to TrinityPeacemakers@gmail.com .

It’s always great to have a photo or art included with blog post.  If you include art, please make sure you have permission the photographer and any people in the photo.  The site will also accommodate videos from YouTube.

Haven’t blogged before?  Nervous you might get something wrong?  Give it a shot!  Submit something — anything!  Don’t worry if it’s good enough writing or not — we will edit and / or help you.

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17 October 2009

The Reconcile Peace Institute is supported by the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Trinity Presbytery.  The term RECONCILE is short for “Resource Centre for Civil Leadership“.  It is an ecumenical ministry originally established by the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC).  The mission of RECONCILE is to help victims of violence recover from trauma and help lead a process of reconciliation that will unite not only Christians in the south of Sudan, but other faith groups as well.

Presbyterian mission co-workers Del and Debbie Braaksma work with RECONCILE in Yei, South Sudan.  Del holds a bachelor of science in agriculture from the University of Wisconsin and a master of science in tropical animal health and production from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.  Debbie has a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota and a master of theology from the University of Edinburgh. She is an ordained minister of the Reformed Church in America.

Braaksma, Del and Debbie

A peace treaty is in place between the government of Sudan and the freedom-seeking Sudan People’s Liberation Movement of Southern Sudan.  The government, controlled by the National Congress Party, has been slow to put the treaty into practice.  Therefore, it is important to keep pressure on the government of Sudan to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

International advocacy continues to be essential for the survival of the inhabitants of Sudan.  To join the “cloud of witnesses,” you are encouraged to visit the Web site of the Sudan Advocacy Action Forum and sign up for its e-mail list. The site often provides letters that are simple to cut, paste and send to government officials, “to rattle the cage” and bear witness that the world will not forget about the oppressed in South Sudan and Darfur.

Addressing injustice is more complex than just helping one person at a time.  Change needs to be implemented at a higher level to address systemic and embedded injustice that affects individuals.  In her most recent update, Deb writes about her work, involving both individuals and institutions:

darfur_inside

Greetings from Yei!  While the news from Sudan is anything but encouraging these days, with inter-ethnic conflicts on the increase, we give thanks to God for the role RECONCILE has been able to play in spreading the message of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation in this needy land. This past week I found myself thanking God for several reports of how RECONCILE’s training has made an impact. Let me share one of the experiences which made by day earlier this week.

Each month I invite those from Yei who attended courses at the RECONCILE Peace Institute to our center to share experiences as they do their work in the community and to make plans for how we can work together. On Tuesday our hearts were moved by many of the wonderful ways our former students are using their skills, but one story in particular touched my heart. Mbaraza, a Christian worker at ACROSS, shared how he saw a small boy of 6 – 7 years going up and down the streets of Yei selling used clothes. Mbaraza stopped this boy and asked him why he wasn’t in school. He explained that his parents were too poor. He said that a business person was hiring him for the equivalent of about 50 cents a day and that is all he had to feed himself. (Mbaraza is going to follow up with him.) The sad thing is that in conflict- ravaged countries like Sudan this is very common.

While it is important that we show compassion to these children on a personal basis – just as Christ ministered to the needs of those he came in contact with – we also know how important it is for there to be structures to address and prohibit this exploitation of children (which is virtually being ignored). I was so impressed with how the group decided to make this one of their activities of focus – they felt that they couldn’t just let this go on! At our next meeting we are inviting several human service agencies in town and the police to come together to see how we can tackle this problem. In the closing prayer of our meeting we asked God to guide us in addressing this problem that was completely “beyond us” but not beyond our Lord. When I was a young woman fresh out of the University of Minnesota I served as a child protection social worker. At the time I would have never imagined that 30 years later I would be using many of those same skills on the other side of the world in Sudan!

Since we have been back in Yei at the beginning of August we thank the Lord for how the RECONCILE staff members have been able to do trainings in many high conflict regions of Sudan: (Lekwangole, Pibor, Gummuruk, Kolnyang and Makwac) as well as areas being subject to LRA attacks (Yambio and Lasu). We have also been doing workshops on voter education in Yei and Juba to prevent violence in the upcoming elections.

And we have an exciting month ahead! Del will spend 2 weeks in Pochalla where the Presbyterian Church of Sudan leaders who have been imprisoned for speaking out on human rights abuses have invited RECONCILE to come and do training. Debbie and Milcah Lalam will be rolling out a new program to address abuse against women and children in Magwi and Debbie will lead church leaders Reconciliation Forum with Rev. Okumu. We are grateful for your prayers and support which make it possible for us to join our dear Sudanese brothers and sisters as they seek to live out their biblical mandate of peace and reconciliation in this conflict-ridden land.

Deb also shares the following prayer requests:

1) RECONCILE is continuing the process of selecting a new Executive Director. Please pray with us that the person of God’s choosing would be selected for the task of leading our organization in following the Prince of Peace to bring healing and reconciliation to Sudan.

2) In reference to increased levels of interethnic violence, newly elected head of the Sudan Council of Churches Rev. Ramadan Chan Liol said church leaders in the south believed members of the central government from the north are arming militias in the region.”They are trained, transported and attached to tribal groups,” said Chan. Please pray that this will be stopped.

3) Pray for Del as he goes to Pochalla in October to lead a workshop on conflict resolution and voter education with PCOS Evangelist Othow Okoti – to prepare for a peaceful election in April 2010.

4) Pray for Debbie and Milcah Lalam as they prepare to go to Magwi next month to do a workshop addressing violence against women and children and for Debbie and Rev. John Okumu as they lead a Reconciliation Forum for church leaders from 3 ethnic groups which have been experiencing conflicts: Murle, Dinka and Nuer.

PEACE!

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Palmetto Place Children’s Emergency Shelter is a place of refuge for children in need.   Its mission is “To provide a safe and nurturing emergency shelter bringing together a broad range of services for children who are victims of abuse and neglect.”

Palmetto Place is housed in a five bedroom residence, with each bedroom equipped for a specific age and gender.  At maximum capacity, Palmetto Place can house 16 children.  Because of the nature of the service to children, the exact location of Palmetto Place is kept secret.

During their stay in Palmetto Place, children receive medical, mental health, and dental care, nutritious meals, clothing, and personal care items.

Palmetto Place

Palmetto Place has supplied the following wish list of items.   Anyone wishing to donate items should deliver supplies to Forest Lake Presbyterian Church, 6111 North Trenholm Road, Columbia, SC 29206, or call (803) 786-6819 to arrange for the items to be picked up :

Palmetto Place Wish List

Kitchen & Laundry Supplies
liquid detergent for the dishwasher

liquid detergent (Dawn, Joy, etc.)
trash bags (30 & 39 gallon size)
laundry detergent
anti-static dryer sheets
disinfectant sprays
spray bottles of cleaning liquids (409, clorox, works, etc.)
paper towels
toilet paper

Personal Care/Grooming Supplies/Other
shampoo and conditioner (i.e. Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Optimum, Motions, etc. )
hair grease and conditioner

towels

washcloths

toothpaste

toothbrushes

mouthwash

dental floss

lotion

children’s medicine (i.e. Tylenol, Chloreseptic, cough medicine)

Neosporin
hair gel
hair accessories (barrettes, ponytail holders, etc.)
stick deodorant (male and female)
dove soap (unscented)

They add:

“Of course, we can always use gift cards and gift certificates to supermarkets and discount stores like Target, Wal-Mart, and K-Mart. We are always in need of certificates or coupons that we can use to entertain the kids while they’re at the shelter. The children enjoy going to the movies, bowling alleys, skating rinks, fun parks, etc. And all that play makes for hungry mouths, so they also appreciate gift certificates to fast food or kid-friendly restaurants!”

IF YOU VOLUNTEER FOR THE PALMETTO PLACE CHILDREN’S EMERGENCY SHELTER, WOULD YOU PLEASE CONSIDER WRITING A BRIEF ARTICLE TO SHARE IN THIS SPACE?  The idea is to inform and inspire other peacemakers like yourself.

palmetto place 2

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The Good News Of Peace In South Sudan*

On Wednesday, October 14th, Trinity Peacemakers were delighted to host Dr. Ingrid Reneau, Presbyterian Mission Coworker in South Sudan, for supper together at 5:30 PM.    Following the supper, Dr. Reneau spoke at Forest Lake Presbyterian Church about her work as an educator in South Sudan.

Original Post:

Dr. Ingrid Reneau

Dr. Ingrid Reneau

Following supper, Dr. Reneau will talk at 7:30 P.M. at Forest Lake Presbyterian Church , 6500 North Trenholm Road, Columbia, SC  (phone 803-787-5672).  Those who choose to attend this talk will learn more about Sudan, its people, and the work of the Presbyterian Church in South Sudan.

Dr. Reneau’s journey to South Sudan began in 2003, while she was working as an Assistant Professor of Literature and Women’s Studies at the University of South Carolina.  She experienced a call to begin living the scripture, “Trust in the lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3: 5-6).   Dr. Reneau’s commitment to follow this scripture marked the beginning of what she describes as a “radical, transforming spiritual journey”.

In 2007, this path led Dr. Reneau to South Sudan, where she now works as an educator.  As an educational consultant, Dr. Reneau works in the Sudanese, church-sponsored, school system to expand its educational outreach, improve its administrative capabilities, and strengthen its teaching methodologies.  In Africa, her work is enabled by the Presbyterian church of Sudan, and Across, a PC(USA) partner organization and international, Christian NGO.

Dr. Reneau has both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in literatures in English from Rutgers.  Her Bachelor’s degree is from Hunter College, part of the City University of New York, where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.  Dr. Reneau, who originally hails from Belize, is a member of an inter-denominational church, the Shiloh Christian Fellowship, in Oakland, California.

The title of Dr. Reneau’s talk will be, “Is Your Heart in His Hand? Is His Heart in Your Belly? Peace for Eternity”.  Scripture references include, “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on me will live because of me.” (John 6:57); “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11); and “I am my beloved’s and he is mine; he feeds among the lillies” (Song of Solomon 6:3).

Come!  Join us to break bread together, and be inspired by Dr. Reneau’s witness concerning God’s works of love, peace, and beauty in a beautiful yet war torn land.

*Remember, we walk by faith and not by sight!

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Greetings from Trinity Peacemakers, the peacemaking committee of Trinity Presbytery in central South Carolina, USA.  We are a diverse group of people working to bring peace to the world, one person at a time.

This blog is a work in progress. Please leave a comment so we’ll know you’ve been here.  If you are a peacemaker in South Carolina and want to get involved, please email us at trinitypeacemakers@gmail.com

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