PARTNERSHIP AND CAPACITY BUILDING
A Visit to Northern Ireland by Rev Joseph Mamer
Last year in 2013 before I left the position of Principal of St. John’s College of Theology and Development, I asked Bishop Moses if I could attend any short education training outside Africa. I wanted to do this as part of an in-service support and capacity building effort to gain institutional instruction, relevant skills, and of course to improve on teaching, leadership and management skills. My hope was that this would help me in taking St. John’s College of Theology and Development to new heights. I had very limited number of lecturers as because of insufficient funds to recruit more lecturers, despites the amount of work, thus I was forced by that situation to teach more lessons and try to cover the syllabus accordingly. Besides all that, I was the Dean of Good Shepherd Cathedral-Wau, plus other additional responsibilities that I was obligated to in the Diocese of Wau. I was really exhausted, I really wanted to take academic and educative leave outside Africa to refresh myself. The Bishop took the request seriously and when he visited the UK he shared my request with our UK based Bishop’s Commissary, Canon. Kenneth J.H.Hearn. Kenneth then requested Union Theological College in Queen’s University of Belfast City, Northern Ireland. It was by their kindness that I was invited through Canon Kenneth to get some instruction from the Union College in Belfast City with special attention to peace and conflict resolutions as I am currently involved in peace building between the two Sudans in cross-borders relations through Concordis International. I received two cordial invitations; one from Union Theological College, Queen University and another one from my sponsor Canon Kenneth J.H.Hearn who is our UK based Wau’s Bishop Commissary. Now the process began, I travelled to Nairobi, Kenya to get a visa there as it was going to be difficult for me to complete the Visa application form online. I did not have credit cards to complete it electronically; I tell you that this was one of the most difficult parts of my visit to the UK. I applied for a visa and waited excitedly but what I received from the British High Commission in Nairobi was the “refusal for Entry”, what a shock! I could not believe my eyes that I was refused entry after I exhausted all the money I had, but I still kept a little hope that I have to give it a try for a second chance. My friend Canon Kenneth and prayer partners in Poole deanery, Salisbury Diocese and Northern Ireland Churches continued praying for me and they encouraged me especially Canon. Kenneth. He paid for my application and fare fee, encouraged me to lodge another application form despite it being so expensive. This did not just finish without me learning something out of it, I could
imagine if entry to the UK or any other part of the world required so many things and difficulty for the traveler to get acceptance and entry, what about going to heaven? Yes, Christians have been assured by Christ that salvation is by the grace of God but we still need to respond to this freely given salvation. Here Christians may feel frustrated and disappointed after they have confessed their Christian faith, with the hope that one day they will enter into heaven, but are refused entry as happened to me until they prove to be true Christians and genuine believers. Anyway Godâ€™s grace and love is always sufficient. To come back to my point, I was refused and I really felt bad and frustrated after I spent all the money I had, wasted time and energy only still to be refused. I had to provide all the required documents asked for and lodge in my application for a second time; two members of Parliament in the UK appealed to the British High Commission to grant me a Visa as my visit to the UK was very important to the Diocese of Wau and our partners in the UK. Amazingly I was granted a visa to the UK, which I was given in the morning and travel then set for a night flight. My sincere and profound thanks to Canon Kenneth J.H.Hearn who organized with Mr Richard Tazewell for not only picking me up from Heathrow International Airport in London but also for providing me with warm clothes. I am grateful that they took me to L-R Richard Tazewell, Joseph Mamer and Jeff on 21 Feb 2014 (Southampton Salisbury Diocese Airport) I was happy and honoured to be received by my Christian friends and showed me who are members of Poole Deanery which is our partner in Christian mission. many places around London before I took my next flight from Southampton airport to Belfast City. Thanks to Jeff and his wife who also traveled all the way just to see me off from Southampton. I also want to thank and appreciate our UK Christian friends such as Poole Deanery and Presbyterian Church members for their prayers. When I arrived in Belfast City Airport, I was glad to meet and be received by Canon. Kenneth.J.H.Hearn and his wife Thelma, who were waiting for me in the airport. I was warmly received by them as a son or grandchild and was immediately taken to my host. I was getting a little bit tired and the weather was not at all friendly to
me. Thanks to the Christians of Carrowdor, Mill isle, Presbyterians churches in Belfast City for their prayers and financial support and for having worked hard to ensure that I was granted a visa. Before I took off from Southampton Airport to Belfast City in Northern Ireland, I was taken to the Diocese of Salisbury by Richard Tazewell to see some friends there in the Diocese.
Logos Ministries International. It was more than a blessing to meet with a worldwide known Christian church minister and director of Logos Ministries International, Thomas McClean. Through his ministry Thomas Mclean has been one of Wau Dioceses oldest Christian partners in faith and God’s Mission. His missions through Wau Diocese are numerous. Thomas is respected and known in the whole Diocese of Wau for his leadership training support to the Diocese. Sharing with him about the rapid and considerably spiritual, economical, and statistical growth of the Diocese together with the recently One of the oldest Anglican Cathedrals, St Mary’s in established structures in the Salisbury Diocese - 22/Feb 2014 Diocese of Wau he was reinforced and encouraged in his vision for the support of church Mission in South Sudan. Thomas focused especially on needy churches such as Wau and Aweil Dioceses which are in front line of an Islamic threat and were once torn by Sudan’s civil wars.
Union Theological College-Queens University, Belfast City I wish to extend my sincere and profound appreciation to Union Theological College Principal Rev. Dr. Stafford Carson and his fraternity for their unreserved support before and after my arrival to Belfast. I was warmly received by Rev. Dr. Stafford who is the Principal of Union College. I was introduced to the staff members at Union College. While in Belfast I was attending lessons at Union Theological College. I really enjoyed attending Exegesis of Old Testament and the Gospel of Mark, Systematic Theology, Irish Church History, Homiletics. I was impressed at how Dr. Carson organized my visit to the College. Upon my arrival, I was taken to the College by my host Tom Crome and Dr. Carson who received me very warmly, he asked me what could be some of the areas of interest that I specifically wanted him help me learn about in Union College. With joy and enthusiasm, I asked about biblical studies, church history and also peace and conflict transformation, especially the conflicts between the Irish and Britain or Unionists and Nationalists. I asked him if I could get some lessons on peace and conflict resolution to get more insights that may help me in my ministry and also since Iâ€™m involved in peace building in South Sudan through Concordis International, a UK Based NGO. Amazingly, I was given a folder full with many writing materials, getting to classes was another challenge as there were so many different class rooms, but thanks to Dr. Carson who organized with his students and supportive staff members who always ensured that I got to the right class room with the right lesson for each day, especially for the first week. After that I was able to go to class with less assistance from other students and staff, I was also able to commute using the public train alone to & fro for the two weeks that I was going to Union Theological College-Queen University, Northern Ireland. Joe Campbell, peace activist, Northern Ireland, UK
I also donâ€™t want to forget the Librarians who warmly supported me especially in the Library, thanks a lot for the support you granted me while at Union College, Queen University.
Peace and conflict Resolutions As many in the world are aware Sudan had been at war for a prolonged time between Sudan and South Sudan. South Sudan got her independence in 2011 as a result of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which was signed in Nairobi Kenya in 2005. As I mentioned above that I was interested in learning more on peace and conflict resolutions, my sponsors organized for me to have some lessons on peace and conflict resolution with the focus on conflicts in Northern Ireland and take relevant strategies to use in Sudan and South Sudan’s conflicts within and in the border lands. Truly I learned many things from Joe Campbell who had been a worldwide known peace activist. Joe Campbell told me that “Joseph; Ethnic conflicts are ever difficult to resolve because it requires many aspects to be included in the conflict resolutions. What had happened and is still happening between Sudan and South Sudan had happened to us here in Northern Ireland.” He said, “Joseph, in Northern Ireland, we experienced one of the longest wars between Unionists and Nationalists (Irish) which lasted for many years”. The Irish Republican Army whose aim was to force British Army out of Ireland back to England. The Church was not willing to participate or even take sides, especially the Protestant and Presbyterian churches in Northern Ireland who were not willing to accept reconciliation. What happened eventually was that individuals who worked for secular Organizations came up with a full force to work for peace and reconciliation. Joe told me that one of the tools that they used in working for peace was called “Corrymeela” (Hell of Hope) and many peace actors fully participated in “Corrymeela ” in worship, study and most of these participants became friends and talked about peace when they came back home with their families, friends and many other institutions. Joe Campbell also shared with me and said that to achieve peace, people must engage in peace conferences inviting influential politicians, community leaders from warring parties/communities, encourage reconciliation and trauma training, visiting people in prisons, running seminaries in prisons for peace with different groups. Bringing in different peace experts to talk about peace, to share with people their own experiences of conflict and mitigation. Peace workers need to be calm always because there are always problems arising even if you have worked well or where peace seems to have been achieved.
You can build confidence ( We called that “Shuttle Mediation”) when you go to one side and talk to them and go to the other side and talk the same information until trust and understanding is achieved by both conflicting parties. Joe told me that when he was working for peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, he could use members from the Catholic Church to talk about Peace because he cannot go because of his religious affiliation but he could talk to his people until they both came together and brought the two groups together in conferences and reconciliation meetings. The church was also actively involved in peace building as it was the best tool used for peace and stability. We could bring together at Corrymeela at least for 2-3 days for peace conference. But Joe said that there is an aspect of peace UN, Government, Concordis or any other international/local body cannot do. It’s the church that gives this “Forgiveness” which has not been reached even here in Northern Ireland. The Church is the best tool for forgiveness and reconciliation through Love. For South Sudan and Sudan border related conflicts - Joe shared with me his wisdom and vast experience in peace building as he has been an active peace actor. He encouraged conferences in the border areas (as done by Concordis International), meetings, dialogues, bringing people together in one place (he calls this a Pilot area) and encourage peace agents from both sides who will actively work for peace and peace only. But remember peace accords can be broken but never give up even when peace is violated or dishonoured. Peace will still come, keep pushing without giving in, many people will step back not being ready for peace but keep pushing, working for peaceput as much effort into this as going for war. Ben, who is another peace actor but also a student at Union Theological College, told me that there are 4 things when working as peace actor. 1. Building a relationship, either bilateral or individual relationship especially between warring parties so that they at least come together and dialogue together, it takes a lot of time but work hard, trust will come slowly. 2. Bring people together after you have succeeded in getting some supporters from both parties to help and build confidence among themselves, paradoxical curiosity, people may be willing to talk and have dialogues. 3. Be willing to take a “Risk” in planning and preparation. 4. Creativity: To resolve problems you need to be creative, what works in Northern Ireland for example is not what works in South Sudan. Leaders in society make things happen especially church leaders, political leaders and tribal leaders. Start from smaller groups and keep going, building trust and relationships but we cannot forget Christian prayers as a vital part of resolving conflicts and problems to build trust in both sides. Peace actors
must also trust both sides even those sides he/she does come from, you must trust them. I thank Union Theological College and particularly the Principal Rev. Dr. Stafford Carson for buying for me a very expensive and nice book on peace called â€œThe Moral Imagination, the Art and Soul of Building Peaceâ€? I recommend peace actors to buy this book.
I am glad that my current employer Concordis International granted me one months leave to take up this important visit to the UK, as you may know that I work for Concordis International, a UK based NGO implementing peace building in South Sudan and Sudan, especially working on cross-border relations. I wish to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation for granting me this leave which I now realise that this visit has significantly helped me because I have interacted with many students from Union College. I learnt many things from them, I also interacted with lecturers who also supported me especially on peace and theologically related issues. This visit and the short training I had at Union College will help me in my current job as a Peace actor as well as a church minister. I have learnt many things from Joe Campbell, I have learnt from the conflicts that Northern Ireland and the British have had and how they achieved peace. When I came back from Northern Ireland I was warmly received by our CEO I had a nice time with Mr. Richard King in London, Heathrow International Airport. Richard was pleased to meet me for the first time, we had some discussions on the Concordis South Sudan program and its activities, it was a wonderful time.
Richard King visited me in Northern Bahr El Ghazal in May just to see our program activities, my work in the field of which he was pleased.
Me with Richard King the CEO of Concordis International taking coffee at Heathrow Airport.
What we hear sometimes does not always reflect the reality of something that we hear. I heard from many friends that the Western World is completely different from the African ways of doing things in terms of culture, hospitality, spirituality and social life. But to my surprise when I arrived at the Presbyterian Church on Saturday 22 and again on Sunday 23 Feb 2014, amazingly I was warmly welcomed by every church member, overjoyed to spot me among many members I think I was the only African Christian member in the worship. They were prayed for my journey as I had difficulty in getting a Visa in Nairobi because my visit coincided with South Sudan’s conflict which started on 15 December 2013 in which 10,000 people are claimed to to have been killed. That delayed my visa but I thank Canon Kenneth, Richard, the Administration of Wau Fellowship in Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church, Bangor Diocese and Poole Deanery on 1st March 2014. who tirelessly stood firm by working hard to ensure other required documents were provided so that I was granted a visa.
Here is a picture of one of my hosts Tim Crome and Brenda.
I would like to thank the Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church for their generous support through Canon Kenneth J.H. Hearn who is the Bishop of Wau’s Commissary in the UK and special friend to the members of Hamilton Road Presbyterian church in Northern Ireland. I was hosted by their members of whom I’m grateful and I hold in my heart with love and respect for their love and unreserved care granted to me while in their homes.
I attended an evening Bible study group and some prayer meetings; my faith was renewed and challenged by these gatherings. I also want extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to Rev. Davis of Carrrowdor and Milliles Church and the church members there for their continued support. I was given 15 minutes to talk in both churches. Here below is Rev Davis and myself at Carrowdor church. We had a Holy Communion Service, so I helped Rev. Davis in serving the Holy Communion.
Here is Rev Davis and myself at Carrowdor church.
Bangor Worldwide Missionary Prayer Day
L to R Mr. Tom from Worldwide Mission, Canon Kenneth and Rev. Joseph Mamer Manot at fellowship.
I Had the privilege to be invited to the Worldwide Missionary Prayer day in Northern Ireland, UK where I was given a chance to talk about St. Johnâ€™s College of Theology and Development and its vision. I talked and informed participants about the current political situation in South Sudan.
Tearfund UK It was an honour and a privilege to meet Tim from Tearfund UK who expressed his willingness to fully encourage Tearfund South Sudan to work in partnership as its first partners. Tearfund South Sudan is implementing a WASH program in Western and Northern Bahr El Ghazal State, therefore, the head office in Aweil, Northern Bahr El Ghazal had pledged with churches as their primary partners.
Bishop Harold Millar (Anglican Church in Northern Ireland) I was invited by Bishop Harold who was happy to see me in his office. I shared with him about St. Johnâ€™s College and why it is important to have it established and supported. He is the most humble and loving Bishop I ever met. He is willing to partner with Wau Diocese in the future. I consider it a great honour and privilege to be invited by him in his office, may God continue blessing not only his ministry but even those people that God has put under his care.
Open Doors UK Office Open Doors International is a Christian organization that works in support of persecuted Christian churches in the World. Around 1997 Open Doors began working in South Sudan helping the persecuted Christian churches especially churches under SPLA controlled areas but under brutal and horrible persecution under the hands of Muslims Arabs from Sudan. They had donated more than 200 Theological Books to St. Johnâ€™s College of Theology and Development they also donated chairs and arranged for the transportation of their books from East Africa to Wau, South Sudan. The Episcopal Church (Anglican) began a strong Christian partnership with Open Doors; Open Doors brought Relief foods and non-food items to help war displaced persons and people persecuted because of their faith. Open Doors did not only help the persecuted churches but had a mission to help young churches and its leaders through training on the Bible. In 1998, Open Doors established a mobile Bible school in Aweil called the Timothy Training Institute (TTI), this was because of distance and insecurity which made a mobile Bible school a wise choice. I was one of luckiest to be selected to enroll in that Bible school where I was spent 3 years and graduated with a Diploma in Christian Leadership. I do thank the Open Doors leadership especially George William and Ariel Preller who dedicated and committed their lives in helping persecuted churches during the dark times. They risked their lives for the sake of their Christian brothers and
sisters under ruthless and severe persecution, I will never forget the Open Doors contribution not only in my Christian faith but also to my education, as it gave me strong foundation that I used as a ladder. It would have been difficult for me and other colleagues to get basic education in South Sudan because there were no non faith-based schools leave a lone Bible schools, but Open Doors gave us a profound foundation which helped many of us to continue with their studies in higher learning institutions.
Pamela, Joseph and John
I was lucky enough to meet with John MeClean and Pamela a couple who are staff members of Open Doors and I told them that I’m a product of Open Doors because my first education I got from Open Doors and they were pleased
and listened to me keenly. I was ordained without any basic theological training, but Open Doors for its three years training I received just that. I shared with them my clear vision for St.John’s College of Theology and Development. I tell you after sharing with them about the needs of St.John’s such as insufficient funds, books, lack of teachers caused by lack of funds they became interested in supporting St. Johns College. St.Johns Students were more than happy to learn this amazing donation to St.John’s College. The books have been ordered and purchased from Nairobi Kenya, East Africa. It is hoped that these books will arrive in May which will add up with 1,200 books I requested from USA. Praise the Lord! St. John’s College is growing more than expected. My sincere thanks and appreciation to Open Doors for its continued support for needy churches and I want to assure its staff members that their donation will be wisely used for the sole purpose of the college and they shall receive a report once the books have arrived to the last destination which is Wau Diocese. May God continue blessing you as you serve him, and we wish to request you to continue with this amazing and special support especially to St. John’s College of Theology and Development.
A Word on the College For Those who may be interested in know what is this St.Johnâ€™s College of Theology and Development, St.Johns began in 2012 as a Bible study with only 3 participants where these students were getting basic instructions and lessons from the Bible. In the same year in July we made it to be a Bible school but with only 3 students and I was appointed as the first Principal of St. Johnâ€™s College. Shortly before the end of the year we had another 3 students enrolled totaling to 6 students with limited financial support. We only had space for learning, we had no classroom furniture, not even a single chair, table, dormitory or library bookshelf. But through our Christian friends and partners, we have managed to enrolled 24 students taking Biblical students, history, Systematics, Theology and Philosophy, computer courses, and English courses. We now have a Library, a small dormitory with capacity for 30 students, some computers and classes for first and second year students. May God be praised for his sufficient grace on this project. If you want to support St. Johns please contact the Diocesan Bishop or Principal of S.John whose contacts are in the Wau Diocese website: www.wau.anglican.org or firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com This visit has been important to me because I have learnt many things from the Union College, friends and peace actors which has given some methodologies used in peace building especially in ethnic conflicts like the ones we have had in South Sudan and Sudan. It has also built new capacity in me academically as I continue to pursue my education. Another important part of the visit is that I have met many friends who are willing to be partners who are willing continue their partnership with Wau Diocese. My visit has renewed and strengthened relationships which I hope will bear more fruit in the future. On a personal point, I have also enjoyed and loved being in the UK for the first time, I ate many local foods if such an opportunity arose again I would not hesitate to take it. If you would like any information about St. John College or my visit please donâ€™t hesitate to ask any question. I thank all my friends who have contributed in one way or another to this very successful visit. Yours sincerely Rev.Joseph Mamer Manot