by Janice McLaughlin, MM
African Forum for Catholic Social Teaching
“Be patient and stand firm because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:8)
Advent is a time to be patient and to stand firm, not losing hope even if the situation looks hopeless – as it does in war-torn countries such as South Sudan. This past week Pax Christi International held a conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the theme “Nonviolence in Africa – Creating a Future of Hope.” The participants came from 12 countries on the African continent, all of which have suffered war or violence at some time. Each of the participants is working for peaceful change and has not given up hope in a better future.
Bishop Paride Taban, who attended the conference from South Sudan, is himself a sign of hope. After retiring as bishop of Torit Diocese, he founded a peace village in his country that brings together people from various ethnic groups and political persuasions, showing that people can live together in peace, regardless of their differences.
At 80, he still plays soccer with the youth and spreads the message of nonviolence near and far. “I have always done my best to be a sower of peace and a bridge maker, despite all the violence and evil surrounding me,” he says. Like John the Baptist, he is a prophet preparing the way for the Lord’s coming and proclaiming God’s message of love and peace.
Each one of us, like Bishop Taban and John the Baptist, is called to be a sower of peace and a bridge maker. We may not live in a war zone, but we can find people in our families and in our neighborhoods or work places who need a word of encouragement or a sign of forgiveness. Let us create a future of hope, wherever we are!
Janice McLaughlin, MM was a participant in the Pax Christi International conference “Nonviolence in Africa: Creating a Future of Hope,” held this past week, 5-9 December, in Johannesburg, South Africa.