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Equipping Facilitators at the Grassroots

A Letter from Bob and Kristi Rice, serving in South Sudan

Spring 2023

Write to Bob Rice
Write to Kristi Rice

Individuals: Give to E132192 in honor of Bob and Kristi Rice’s ministry

Congregations: Give to D500115 in honor of Bob and Kristi Rice’s ministry

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)


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Dear friends,

The facilitators-in-training were practicing their teachings the day before the practicum workshop. I was among the team of trainers coaching them and giving feedback as they practiced. “I didn’t hear you mention the first point in that teaching,” “Is there anywhere in the teaching where you can ask questions and make it interactive?” or “Do you have a personal experience related to this topic that you can share?” were frequent questions or comments in our feedback after their practice. Thomas and I, the two coaches in our group, both silently wondered whether they would be able to teach effectively in the practicum and wished that we had another week of training to help them prepare.

This training in January was to equip 12 people in the community of Yambio to facilitate the Healing Hearts, Transforming Nations (HHTN) workshop. The Training of Facilitators was organized by Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), in collaboration with the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and our partner the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC). MAF conducted workshops in Yambio in 2019 and 2022 and some of the participants had been so moved and excited by their experience of healing and forgiveness that they had begun sharing some teachings and practical exercises with youth in other churches. Inspired by the initiative of these youth to pass on the message, MAF promised to organize a training to equip and certify them to conduct the full HHTN workshop.

Our group of facilitators-to-be in the training was an impressive group of very committed people. Four pastors and the rest youth, including three women, comprised our 12 trainees. One of the biggest challenges here in learning to facilitate is how to teach in an interactive way rather than the lecture or preaching style that they are used to in their churches and schools. We discussed how to ask questions as a way of helping participants discover the truth for themselves and the importance of sharing personal experiences and relevant examples. They practiced dramas, working to remember the right words and actions so that the message of the drama would come across. We encouraged them to think of themselves as coming alongside hurting people and sharing how God had worked healing in them and enabled them to forgive, rather than to exhort people with commands and principles.

The day of the practicum workshop had arrived, and more than 50 people of all ages in one neighborhood came to attend. I rejoiced as I watched our new facilitators interact in their teachings with questions and dramas, and I could see that the participants were resonating with the teachings about our wounds, division and prejudice. The facilitators taught in their mother tongue of Zande while someone translated for us in the back so we could understand. At the end of the first day, they led a session about the wounds we receive in our families because of unmet childhood needs, and how this background hinders us from receiving God’s unconditional love as our heavenly parent. At the end of the session was a time of prayer, where the facilitator invited people to forgive their parents and receive God’s love as the One who is able to truly meet our needs. Nearly all the participants came forward for prayer, and it was a moving and sacred time as people acknowledged their wounds and asked God to enable them to forgive and receive His perfect love.

The following morning, one older man shared excitedly that he finally felt free from the pain he had been feeling in his body and the weight in his heart. He said he had not been able to sleep well for years, but that night he was finally able to sleep in peace and he was so grateful for the healing and freedom that God worked in him. Several other people also shared testimonies of God working in them during that prayer time, and I rejoiced at the Holy Spirit’s presence in our midst bringing hope and healing out of the pain.

At the graduation of our new facilitators, the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church for the province emphasized the need to share this message of healing. “I was just in a remote village last week, where no one has visited to provide trauma healing. People there have been living with their wounds and pain for 20 years, afraid of other groups. You need to organize to reach villages like that with this message.” The new facilitators in Yambio are already planning how they can reach all eight of the districts in their region this year to be able to conduct HHTN workshops. We invite your prayers that the Holy Spirit continues to open people’s hearts to receive God’s healing and freedom.

We thank God for the significant role that our trainers and facilitators in SSPEC have in equipping others to experience God’s healing and forgiveness. Thank you for your prayers and support that enable us to continue this journey of accompanying our siblings in South Sudan as they are a voice of hope and healing in the midst of suffering. May the light and life of Jesus fill you also and flow out of you to our hurting and broken world.

With joy in Christ,

Bob and Kristi

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