Peace through forgiveness

Peace through forgiveness

Lilias and her family were kept in a war zone by their own memories but discovered that because of Jesus, peace is possible.

Photo: “Now I am alive.” – Lilias, in Bidibidi 2 refugee camp, northern Uganda

The war in South Sudan had come closer and closer, until one day Lilias saw her brother’s daughter shot in front of her.

by Camilla Lloyd

Now Lilias knew it wasn’t safe for her family to stay in Kaya, South Sudan. She went home, gathered her four children and her husband and they left.

There was no time to take anything with them – the family left with just the clothes on their backs and fled towards the Uganda border.

In the confusion of their escape, one of Lilias’s children got lost in the bush. Not knowing whether she would see her child again was almost more than a mother’s heart could bear.

But Lilias and the rest of the family had no choice – their only hope was to keep running towards the border with Uganda.

The rest of the family made it to safety and were taken to a refugee camp, but it was two weeks before Lilias was reunited with her lost child.

Trapped in trauma

In the refugee camp, things got worse before they got better. Lilias and her family were kept in a war zone by their own memories.

Things they had seen and heard in South Sudan went round and round in their minds as if being played on a loop. Repressed memories could be triggered at any time, suddenly causing flashbacks and retraumatising them.

Even while sleeping, Lilias and her family weren’t safe from reliving the trauma they had suffered. War broke into their dreams and immersed them in gunfire and bloodshed once again.

Lilias and her family had been driven from their homeland and the trauma they had suffered meant they were barely surviving.

Lilias drank more and more, trying to numb her pain. But the drinking made her treat her family badly; she couldn’t drink and still be a good wife and mother. Her marriage was already difficult, now things were getting worse. Lilias didn’t know what to do or where to turn for help.

Things got so bad that she tried to end it all – but a lady called Grace stopped her. Grace told her about the hope Jesus offers, and invited Lilias to a trauma healing group.

In the trauma healing sessions, Lilias and the others read the Bible and learned about Jesus. Lilias could feel that people in the group cared about her and over time, she felt safe enough to share her trauma and begin to work through it.

Through the sessions, Lilias found the strength to stop smoking and drinking. She accepted Jesus into her heart.

Today, Lilias is happy, full of smiles, because through Jesus, she has found peace. “Now I am alive.”

Forgiveness is the key

Lilias believes she and her family may be able to return home one day. She believes peace in South Sudan is possible. How? In her own words, “The only way we can have peace in South Sudan is if we forgive one another.”

One of her favourite Bible verses is Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Because of Jesus, Lilias was able to work through her trauma and forgive others, even those who shot her brother’s daughter in front of her.

Because of Jesus, Lilias is alive today.

Because of Jesus, peace is possible.

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