The UN Refugee Agency estimates that more than 68 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes by conflict or persecution. More than 25 million of those displaced people are living as refugees in foreign countries, and over half of the world’s refugees are under the age of 18.
The vast majority of these refugees and displaced people have not been permanently resettled, and many of them live in camps that are rife with conflict. People of different ethnic and religious backgrounds are crowded into the same settlement. Space is limited, resources are scarce, and people are hurting. Many of the same conflicts that are playing out on an international stage are mirrored in refugee camps, as these populations are thrown together under very difficult circumstances.
The GNPI team in Uganda is working on a peace project designed to help refugees find peace with God and implement peacemaking strategies in their communities. Our parters at OneTribe People written a radio drama that’s being broadcast into refugee camps in a variety of languages. The programs are simple and engaging, and each one offers practical skills for resolving conflict.
We also train facilitators who work in the field to help refugees apply the principles they’re learning. These facilitators have conversations with community leaders and others who've listened to the broadcast and talk through a series of discussion questions after each message. It's a community-based model where everyone is invested in the process, which creates a broad sense of ownership.
GNPI was recently contacted by a woman named Christine, who wanted to tell us how the OneTribe Peace Project impacted her. When she was 4 years old, Christine went to the market and came home to find that her entire family, including six siblings, had been slaughtered in a violent machete attack. Fearing for her life, she fled immediately, eventually reaching Malawi.
When she was 20 years old, she began dating a young man and got engaged. Christine hadn’t told her fiance about her tragic childhood and wanted him to know the full story before they got married. She told him about the murder of her family, and he broke down in tears. Two weeks later, he came to Christine to confess: he was the man who had murdered her family.
Christine was shocked and furious. She bought a gun, determined to kill her family’s murderer. But first, Christine contacted her friend, Julia, to tell her what had happened. Julia was also a refugee living in the same country as Christine, and she shared some of the OneTribe radio recordings with her, urging Christine to listen before she acted on her plan.
When she heard the broadcasts, Christine was powerfully affected. Rather than seeking vengeance, she forgave the man who murdered her family. Not only that, but eventually, they decided to continue with their plans to get married and started a new family together. Christine’s life was transformed when she learned that peace was possible through Jesus Christ.
OneTribe recordings have proven to be such a valuable resource that they’re being adapted to other contexts, like primary and secondary schools. They’re also being used in local forums to settle civil disputes among townspeople. Even South Sudanese government officials have contacted us to share stories about the impact we’re having in their communities.
That’s one of the factors that makes this program a form of strategic evangelism. Many refugees come from cultures that emphasize group goals over individual progress, so in order to reach them, we needed a strategy that was based on that worldview. In the OneTribe broadcasts and follow-up, we emphasize community-based solutions and group discussions. That approach is meaningful and relevant to these populations. We’re also utilizing a medium — radio broadcasting — that may seem a little old-fashioned to westerners but is highly accessible to our target audience.
Like a lot of GNPI initiatives, the OneTribe Peace Project is a collaborative effort. Recently, a group of young people from South Sudan and some students from LivingStone International University worked together to translate the OneTribe Peace Project to Juba Arabic and recorded 20 episodes for distribution. More episodes are being written, recorded, and translated as teams work together to make this resource available in other languages.
We’re looking for more collaborators to help OneTribe reach its full potential. While you may not be able to contribute your voice acting skills in another language, there is a role for you to play. Consider making a contribution toward GNPI’s work on the OneTribe Peace Project, and check out some of our work in other parts of the world.