Among our people in South Sudan, there are many who are unwilling or unable to forgive those who have for hurt them, betraying our people, and breaking our trust. These people have caused their fellow Sudanese intense emotional and physical pain. Those who are committed to unforgiveness are in a state of emotional, physical, and mental distress that results from a suspended reply in forgiving an offender.

 Unforgiveness is characterized by resentment, bitterness, and a demand for punishment or restitution. It changes the person holding unforgiveness into one who clings to hate and apathy rather than love. The remedy for this is love, which requires forgiveness. The Bible states that “…I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47 ESV).

 Likewise, if we expect to be forgiven for the wrong things we have done, we must begin by extending forgiveness ourselves. Mark 11:25 states, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (ESV). Forgiving is essential to rebuilding South Sudan, as there are various ways our communities have been damaged by the bitterness of our people to their fellow South Sudanese, and we cannot rebuild if we cannot come together in peace. This unforgiveness dynamic has taken a toll on the physical and emotional health of our people.

Accordingly, to remain in a place of unforgiveness is to create an emotional storm of distress in ourselves, in which many difficult feelings surface in ourselves and our community: feelings of stress, trauma, anxiety, depression, insecurity, lack of trust, and fear. Spreading like cancer, unforgiveness also creates a hardened heart. The hardened heart feels anger, resentment, bitterness, and hatred toward the offender. What is the fruit of unforgiveness for our South Sudanese people? It is the death of our community! How long will we continue to harm one another? I need all of us to be aware of the dangers to us if unforgiveness characterizes our community and its consequences in our lives.

 However, the fruit of forgiveness in our community is the possibility for great prosperity for our people. If we work together, there is no limit to how we can rebuild and improve our people and our community. The only way to achieve this cooperative peace with strength in numbers is to forgive one another so that we may work side-by-side. Our entire future depends on forgiveness. These dynamics are true no matter where you are from, but it is intensified with our people because of the war we have experienced.

 Even when we apologize, sometimes the other person is unwilling or unable to forgive. Do we need their forgiveness in order to move forward to rebuild our homeland? How do you deal with someone who will not forgive you? Fully forgive yourself! It is fundamental to respect yourself and the other person even if forgiveness is not forthcoming. Allow the other person the time to process your apology and plan to come back to them at some future time. However, you must keep forgiving others and healing our people and South Sudanese community.