”We suffer from many enemies – hunger, poverty, violence and even genocide… We as church leaders now want to respond unitedly.’’
This was the message from a group of Sudanese bishops who visited London last week. They were here to form a United Christian Emergency Committee for South Sudan – a group transcending church denominations to respond to the unfolding unrest in their country. In particular, they called upon the international community for help.
The ongoing conflict in South Sudan, which stemmed from the violence that started in December 2013, has left millions displaced, thousands dead and a country facing famine. The Sudanese bishops underlined that this was a political battle and the greatest need was for political reconciliation. They also raised concerns for the effect this will have on the next generation; with schooling on hold due to fighting, many will not receive an education.
There have, however, been stories of great sacrifice and faith in the face of danger: “Thank God there are people on the front line who can go wherever they need to, and who are prepared to die for the sake of their people,” said one of the bishops.
The church is crucial to reconciliation and change in South Sudan: ‘’God calls the church to bring peace and stability to South Sudan’’ (Bishops’ letter of appeal). They have greater access into needy areas than UN agents and they are widely respected and trusted by all in society. ”Our people have confidence in the Church; those in the grassroots are the ones who empower church leaders to take the initiative, because they place their hope in the Church.” (Bishop Martin)
How can you help?
The bishops have called upon the international community to remember the needs of South Sudan and join with them in helping the millions who are suffering. They have written a letter of appeal which outlines some of the ways in which help is needed, as follows:
* Support our hands in prayer for God’s deliverance – sign up to AID’s prayer letter to help you pray!
* Continue your interest and concern for the long term – we are committed to ensuring a long lasting peace.
* Keep our nation and its hopes and needs before your Governments and other institutions to bring their pressure to bear.
* Help us build a strong and healthy nation for the future.
They outlined the following areas as of primary importance: emergency medical assistance, shelter and food aid, political reconciliation, establishing a teacher training programme and establishing a ‘staff college’ to provide responsible leaders for the nation in the future.
Please keep South Sudan in your prayers – to read the letter written by the 8 Sudanese bishops who met in London last week please visit: http://anglicanmainstream.org/south-sudan-cries-for-help/