In late 2013, President Salva Kiir of South Sudan accused his deputy Riek Machar of leading a coup. Machar denied this and the disagreement ignited a prolonged conflict.
Shortly afterwards in January 2014, the first ceasefire was agreed but the fighting quickly resumed. This was followed by the ‘Compromise Peace Agreement’ in August 2015 but once again, this was short-lived. Sadly, there are ethnic undertones to the conflict as the two leaders originate from rivalling tribes and it is believed that close to 300,000 people have died since the initial outbreak in 2013. According to the UN, more than 3.5 million South Sudanese people have been displaced – more than a quarter of the overall population.
Sarah, who has received some loans from Manna Microfinance to start her business, described her experience of the fighting:
‘During the crisis people ran away and shops were closed. This meant we lost both clients and perishable goods. I survived by hiding inside the house.’
As Sarah indicates, the crisis is crushing the economy – GDP per capita fell from US$1,650 to just US$240 from 2011 to 2016 and this shows no sign of improving. A new, allegedly permanent ceasefire was signed in June this year but this was violated just 36 hours afterwards when pro-government forces attacked rebels.
It appears to many that the world’s newest country is destined to fail and has no hope for the future. However, John, a theology student currently studying at George Whitefield College in Cape Town supported by AID, disagrees:
‘The situation is fragile and even pastors are not safe to travel around and preach due to the tribal war that has caused hatred amongst the people. However, we want to make sure that the Church stands firm and continues to preach peace as a neutral body. Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ without fear would greatly have a positive impact in the lives of our people. I trust the Church is the possible solution to the crisis we have in our country.’
John believes that it is the good news of Jesus Christ – His death and resurrection – that can bring lasting change in South Sudan. At AID, we believe this too and we rejoice that there are people like John who are passionate about faithfully preaching the gospel there despite the continued conflict.
Will you join John and everyone at AID in praying for the future of South Sudan? Follow this link to sign up to receive our prayer news – it is so quick and easy!
‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’ – Isaiah 43:18-19