There were things that made us wonder if the Enemy of Peace didn’t want the conference to happen. The superintendent of the Friends Church, Mkoko, had dreamed about having a peace and justice conference for the Young Friends in his yearly meeting. He so much wanted to be there for the gathering about a year ago, in Uvira, Congo. But he was stuck in Kampala, trying to get a visa for an important trip to England. He never made it back to Uvira to see the fruits of his labor.
And then there was the agony at the border crossing, from Burundi into Congo. Clint Baldwin, who posted earlier this month, had heard that he needed to get his visa in the US to enter Congo, but he had other trips to make just before the Congo conference and there was no time to get the visa ahead. We prayed a lot while Clint reasoned with the border officials in a firm, yet kind way. It looked for a few minutes like they were going to give him the visa. Then they got a phone call from their superiors, telling them not to make an exception to the new visa rules. Clint had to stay in Burundi, praying for the delegation of present and former George Fox students, who covered the sessions he would have presented in the conference. The Holy Spirit showed up to help translate their words and ideas into the local culture.
Two big disappointments, but many blessings, as young Congolese men and women pondered what it meant to be peace makers in a volatile and violent setting.
At the end of the conference the Young Friends said they wanted to have another such gathering and wanted to invite Young Friends from Burundi and Rwanda in 2013. And for sure they would invite the Holy Spirit.
Contributed by Lon Fendall, West Chehalem Friends