Bishop Grant LeMarquand writes from Western Ethiopia
After Nuer refugee children were killed in a road accident mobs of ‘highlanders’ [the Gambellan term for those from central Ethiopia] bent on revenge against Nuer refugees for the murder of numerous highlanders were turned back by the Ethiopia army – this is significant because the vast majority of soldiers are themselves highlanders.
– There has been no gun fire and no killing in a couple of weeks. Some roads are still dangerous, some violence is still happening, some refugee camps are still on lock down, though.
– Churches, individuals, town councils and community groups are beginning to talk about peace. Heart-felt reconciliation will be a long, uphill battle, but every step in the right direction is important.
– Our Nuer staff who are from the ‘other side of town’ are returning to work. We will need to shuttle them in by car for the next few weeks or months – both because they are afraid and because they probably have reason to be worried. Those from different ethnic groups on our compound have been very welcoming of each other. Classes at our theological college have just ended – sadly we had to hold most of this term in separate locations for Anuak and Nuer.
– Church leaders have been busy compiling lists of people in their parishes whose houses were burned, who were looted, who were injured or who have lost family members so that we can begin to respond in an organized way to the real pastoral and practical needs in front of us.
– One of the men ordained at the Area Assembly in November, Simon Taidor (who was also at the last Synod) lost a sister in the Murle carte raids. Her child was also abducted, but that child is one of 53 of the more than 100 abducted children who has been returned to Gambella through the mediation of a Murle chief and the action of the Ethiopian armed forces.
– The rain has come (which is good), but it came suddenly and hard after a long and unusually hot dry season – the result has been flooding in a number of places. Thankfully the road to our compound, which was washed out a couple of weeks ago, was fixed the night before we got home from the USA and Canada last week (so we didn’t have to wade through knee deep mud to get home).
Please pray for continued peace, that those in authority will have wisdom, that the police and army act in a calm and professional manner, that food, clothes, building materials, – and comfort get to those who need it. Pray for gentle rain