Sometimes God’s “No!” for us is God’s “Yes!” for someone else. We experienced that in a gloriously miserable way in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast in English). Sharon and I had been invited by Tearfund, a Christian relief and development agency based in the United Kingdom, to training their staff and program in 8 West and Central African countries in conflict transformation. We had 5 days for the workshop.
We invited Philip Kakungulu from Uganda to join us in the facilitation team. Philip was a graduate of the 10-day Training of Conflict Transformation Trainers (TCTT) Sharon and I led in Kenya back in 2013. Since then Philip has done amazing peace work throughout Africa, mentoring many other peacemakers. As one of the leaders of the Pan African Peace Network formed at the TCTT in Kenya we thought it would be great for him to meet all these leaders connected with Tearfund.
The first two days went great, but then Sharon got horribly ill–that gut-wrenching dysentery that is the bane and common experience of missionaries. Philip and I carried on. Then the next day I joined Sharon in the sick bed. If we had been working alone, the entire training would have either ground to a halt or the participants would have to go to some spontaneous Plan B.
Instead Philip with his training and experience brilliantly stepped forward and led a whole day solo. Though there was one special exception. One of the participants was Pastor Paul Conteh from Sierra Leone. Paul had been in a TCTT I’d led in Nigeria back in 2014, so he also knew most of the tools we were using. Philip led an exercise that required a leadership team. Paul was able to step right in to help Philip. The two of them shone!
Sharon and I love doing this kind of work, but as we get older our attention has turned more toward equipping younger peacemakers to take our place. We were ready to do a great job, but by getting really sick (though just for a few days–whew!) God was able to show us how excellent these younger colleagues were. They didn’t miss a beat. The participants in the training got the very best that could be offered whether led by Sharon and me or by Philip and Paul.
By the way, Philip is featured in my book We Are the Socks. He has taken up that “socks” image more than anyone, literally posting photos of him in his peace socks whether he is doing a peace workshop or running in a race for human rights. If you haven’t read the book check out your local bookstore or contact me about how to get a copy (I can sign it!–firstname.lastname@example.org).