Chris and Suzy Wilson, Ethiopia
Working in reconciliation and peacebuilding with local Christian leaders.
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Ethnic conflict raises tough questions for churches throughout the Horn of Africa. Since 2016, we have been helping church leaders from Ethiopia and South Sudan to address these questions. We are currently based in Addis Ababa, where Chris works with a project that aims to equip and encourage churches in conflict-affected regions to actively work for peace.
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Chris and Suzy’s story
We moved to Ethiopia in 2016. Between 2016 and 2020, we were based in Gambella, in western Ethiopia, and helped to lead St Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College. This role involved helping to train men and women to become pastors and lay leaders of churches in Gambella, and in refugee camps throughout western Ethiopia.
Gambella is affected by a protracted ethnic conflict between the Nuer and Anuak communities, and it is also impacted by ethnic clashes in neighbouring South Sudan. One of the distinguishing marks of the Anglican seminary in Gambella is that it intentionally seeks to be a multi-ethnic worshipping community. For this reason, a significant focus of our time there was helping young men and women to navigate the challenges of leading churches amid a prolonged ethnic conflict. This challenge laid hold of us and seemed to resonate deeply with Chris’s experience growing up in a highly segregated and bitterly divided part of Northern Ireland.
In 2021, as a result of the seminary in Gambella switching to an intensive-based model and ethnic conflict increasing throughout many regions of Ethiopia, we moved to Addis Ababa to take on a new role primarily focused on peacebuilding. Chris is joining a team of Ethiopian church leaders who are seeking to equip churches to actively pursue peace in conflict-affected regions on Ethiopia.
Alongside this peacebuilding role, Chris is working on a PhD. His research seeks to understand how Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theology attempts to help the church to resist National Socialism might help churches in other contexts to respond to the challenges associated with powerful nationalist ideologies. In addition, Chris and Suzy will also continue to regularly visit Gambella to help the Anglican Church to provide theological education for pastors and lay leaders.
Suzy is homeschooling and for caring our three children, Abigail, Matthew and Micah. We are hopeful that over the next couple of years all three kids will be able to begin school in Addis, and so Suzy will also be prayerfully considering what form of ministry God is calling her to after this happens.
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