PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Lamentations

I am a Lutheran pastor who is currently in Adjumani Uganda, working with Sudanese Lutheran Community Development in refugee camps. Our organization supports community-based organizers in the camps that help us address specific needs and issues. I am here with two other people for two weeks doing Trauma Healing Training with pastors and lay leaders (pictured above) in the camp and also women’s empowerment. The photo is of our graduation ceremony for one group today.

In South Sudan, the violence of their civil war is Christian on Christian, which is a good reminder that much of the violence for refugees is more about tribe than religion. One of the things I think a lot of people forget when they think about refugees is that refugees don’t WANT to go to another country. They want to go home. They have been in the camp for four years and have no idea when or if they will ever return.

As part of our trauma healing training, we asked them to write laments. A few of the pastors spoke and wrote English, so we were able to get translations. I asked them if they would mind if I shared them broadly, and they all asked me to do so, one telling me “Because you are here, we know that you care about us. And what is painful to us, is painful to you. Share our pain with whoever will listen, so that maybe they too will care about us and our pain and we won’t remain here forever.”  I share them here in the hopes that others will hear their pain and know their struggle.

Lamentations From South Sudanese Refugee
Sudanese Lutheran Community Development Trauma Healing Training

Group 1

O! God hear us Lord, Our plea is just.

Listen to our cry and prayer, it does not come from deceitful lips.

And nevertheless, our vindication comes from you.

May your eyes see and turn to the suffering of the traumatized refugee community, war child soldiers and widows, men and women who have took the hard life in, all along travels form South Sudan to the land of Uganda

O God we are knock knowing your door is open to the way of peace and the period of reparation in our country South Sudan.

O! God Why do you take us in hardship.

O! God why do you abandon us? What have we done? How long shall we be in exile?

We are crying for the long stay away from our mother land country.

O! God we are asking for your forgiveness and freeing us from bad sickness and enemies around us.

Through your salvation, we shall glorify your name ever and forever. Amen.

Group 2

Oh God, why have you forsaken us and allow us to suffer for so long such as this?Why are you turning away your face from us? When are you going to stop the bloodshed in our country? Where is your love and your mercy? Where is your kindness and your compassion? Are we going to be in exile forever? When will you take us back home?

Lord you are our God and our Father. Have mercy on us. We still have hope upon you, you are our only deliverer. Your love is great and endures forever. May your kindness and might help us.

Your name will still be praised and adorated for ever and ever because you are full of love and forgiveness toward mankind.

Group 3

How long will you hide your face from me Lord?

How long will I suffer in a foreign country?

How long will you let my enemies defeat me?

How long will I continue crying of my problems?

How long will you take me back to my homeland?

I know you can forgive and help me in this situation oh Lord.

For this all I pray and sing praise to you Lord.

Group 4


The first point of our lamentation is about the destruction of our country South Sudan because of war.

Many people died of war.

Our children have been taken by the enemy.

We have been in exile in another country.

You have no rights in another country.

Up to when will you return us to our home?

O Lord, we pray to you that you take us back to our home.

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