Stories of Hope from South Sudan

Donate Receive our Newsletter

You are Here:  

Delay in Peace, Delay in Return

Black and White

“Whole! Whole!” buy generic cialis he says with enthusiasm. Jordan wants me to sing, “God’s Got the Whole World in God’s Hands” again. This song has become a nightly ritual. Jordan can’t wait to hear me name the people he loves, and then add the refrain “in God’s hands.” Sometimes “Elmo,” “milk,” and “feet” get added in by request, and often we end with, “God’s got all people in God���������������������s hands.���������������������������

The message of the song calms my anxious spirit every time I sing it; perhaps that is why God nudges Jordan to shout, “Whole! Whole!” It is wonderful to be reminded that I, my family, and friends are all in God’s loving hands. The reality that all the people of South Sudan are also in God’s trustworthy hands, helps quench my longing to be present there. While I would like to try and offer some comfort to our South Sudanese friends in the midst of tragic circumstances, I know God is the most hope-filled, powerful and capable “Person” to accompany anyone, and God is always present in South Sudan.

We recently received a request to delay our return to South Sudan. Our regional PC(USA) supervisor met and discussed our return with Rev. Peter Tibi, the Executive Director of RECONCILE International, the South Sudanese ministry with whom we serve. Rev. Tibi requested we wait another 45 days before heading back. The extension means we would not return until at least mid-October.

Rev. Tibi is a representative for the South Sudanese Church at the National Peace Talks being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In the August 22nd Peace Talk, an agreement allotted for a 45-day period in which South Sudan is to create a “Transitional Government of National Unity.” Rev. Tibi would prefer time for the creation of that important structure before we return. While the transitional government is viewed as key to the forward movement of the country, there are some who feel the 45-day period may be too short to accomplish such a task, but that is the goal.

When making decisions about our time of service, (including such topics as our return dates, our work roles, evacuation, etc.), it is a 3-way conversation between: our family, our sending denominations (PCUSA and RCA), and RECONCILE International. Each component in the partnership does their best to respect the others. We trust the RECONCILE staff’s “insider” view of the situation in their country. We also realize that they feel responsible for our safety as they host us. We try to keep in mind that our presence in a time of high insecurity creates an added burden on them, so we honor their recommendations. While we believe that, as followers of Christ, there are times when God calls us to work in difficult and dangerous contexts, we want to be wise and discerning about when and where we sense that calling.

We plan to use the additional days to do a bit of speaking, to attend the Sudan Mission Network Conference, and to take some family leave. As the 45-day period elapses, we will remain in conversation with our partner about our return. There is the possibility that during that set time things will improve in South Sudan, and there is the possibility that things will get worse. Please continue to pray for the South Sudanese people.

Fear of FamineThe continued conflict and displacement of people in South Sudan has caused a huge humanitarian crisis. The UN estimates, at this time, four million people face severe food insecurity (full article). Anthony Lake of UNICEF urges: “The world should not wait for a famine to be announced while children here are dying each and every day. We all have to do more, and quickly, to keep more children alive.��� The predictions are heartbreaking. At times the sorrow is overwhelming.

One of my seminary professors, Dr. Tom Long, once encouraged students in a chapel service to “Let God overwhelm your overwhelmedness.” So let’s try and do that very thing. Let’s clasp our hands together and pray that God will overwhelm us and the situation in South Sudan with God’s Spirit. Let us become overwhelmed with God‘s ability to hold our brokeness and soothe our desporation. Lets hold tight to one another’s hands as we work together to raise awareness, to advocate, to raise funds, and to surround the South Sudanese in our midst with an accompanying embrace. Let us hold our hands open, palms facing upwards, and then lift them up, giving all of our concerns and the results of all of our efforts to the One who knows all, Loves all, and is able to do all things. After all, “God’s got the whole world in God’s hands.” Amen.