Dear Prayer Partners
Thank you all again for your wonderful prayers for everything that has been happening, and the things we want to happen in these historic times. Since my last prayer request the Sudan has divided into two parts with a new independent South Sudan. This has been a time of exhilaration for some and dread for others, depending on which part of the Sudan (south or north) you find yourself or your family and friends in. The ECS is in both of course.
Tina and I were in London for 9th July and went to some celebrations there. The mood was summed up by one lady who arrived draped in the new South Sudan flag ready to celebrate, and then promptly burst into tears as she clutched a framed photo of the son she lost in the war. The speeches all spoke of the suffering that they will never forget. There was genuine joy that South Sudan is now free of the oppression that has beset them for centuries, and especially since 1956 when the nation of Sudan became independent. You can see our photos and videos here: http://www.picasweb.google.com/nbgc.juba . Let us not forget that the civil war was not so much about independence for the south as freedom from oppression – an oppression that continues in the north.
There is still the disputed territory of Abyei to resolve which the Sudan Armed Forces took by force in May, and from which many Dinka people have been forced to flee. Sadly for them, their homeland contains oil.
In the north, the agony has been multiplied in the last two months. The people of South Kordofan have suffered a military campaign in which civilians have been targeted. Churches and mosques, schools and hospitals, offices and houses have been burned and property destroyed. Church personnel have been arrested and presumably executed, along with community leaders and people of influence suspected of sympathizing with the northern branch of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLMN). This includes people belonging to Arab tribes as well as Nubans. There is a huge refugee problem as people have fled the area. The government have refused to allow in humanitarian aid and UN personnel have been prevented from doing anything either. It is reported that the UN have also suffered casualties and have been deliberately isolated and badly treated.
In Khartoum, those regarded as originally from the south have all been dismissed from government paid employment with no other source of income. Moving to the south has become logistically very difficult and expensive. For those who make it to South Sudan there are few jobs for them in the towns. Many have never lived in country villages and, even if welcomed there, would not know how to look after themselves in rural environment.
BGC does not reconvene until the end of August but this week they have been hosting the ECS Theological Education Commission. Special Entrance Exams have taken place for those invited to resit for the Limuru Diploma course. We are expecting 18 students in the new first year.
Security is an issue as violent crime increases in Juba. The neighbouring Juba Diocesan Model Secondary School remains in our prayers following their break-in.
My visit to the USA has been a success. I was extremely well received everywhere I went, meeting people who genuinely care for the Sudan and its churches. The timing of my arrival immediately before southern independence was apposite. In just over three weeks I spoke, preached and met people in five States (North Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Michigan), two cities (Washington DC and New York) and three theological colleges and universities (Virginia Theological Seminary, Berkeley Divinity School, Yale, and Duke University, Durham, North Carolina). I was impressed with the real interest the people I met had in what was happening in the Sudan and their keen desire to help the work of the ECS and BGC in particular. These people are frequently not understood by their neighbours because they live in a world where concern for other people, especially overseas, is often discouraged. We should be aware that it can cost our friends as much in terms of social rejection as financial giving. We thank you for all this, and pray for you as you pray for us.
At American Friends of the ECS (AFRECS) conference.
Left to right: Me, Prof Ellen Davis (Duke University, NC); Rick Houghton (who organised my tour); and Prof Stephen Cook (Virginia Theological Seminary)
Thank you for keeping Tina and I in your prayers.
Give thanks for Independence Day on 9th July for South Sudan. Please pray for the new nation of the Republic of South Sudan, its institutions and civil structures.
Pray for those involved in the border negotiations, especially those concerned with Abyei taking place in Addis Ababa.
Pray for the Khartoum government. Pray for those who can make a difference in South Kordofan and Dafur. Please pray for the people who are bereaved and displaced and those living in abject poverty, deprived of any income, with nowhere to go and no-one to look after them. Pray that humanitarian aid will be allowed in. Pray for the UN and its people on the ground as they struggle to survive and operate.
The ECS, Christian Churches, and those of any religion who seek God's peace and presence.
We give thanks for the resilience of the Church in the most testing circumstances. We rejoice in the unbelievable courage that they have shown through persecution, displacement, deprivation and isolation. May they know the compassion of God and somehow know just how much support there is for them from around the world even if people can't get in to help.
Please pray for the five ECS northern dioceses, El Obeid (includes Dafur), Kadugli (South Kordofan), Khartoum, Wed Medani (Blue Nile), and Port Sudan.
Please pray for the Archbishop, Daniel Deng Bul and the provincial office staff.
Please also pray for the many Muslims who are also suffering in the north, and give thanks that both Christians and Muslims play a full part in the Republic of South Sudan.
Give thanks that staff from different theological colleges have come together for mutual support and encouragement. Pray for all the ECS colleges and teachers and the Theological Education by Extension programme.
Bishop Gwynne College
We give thanks for those who re-sat the Special Entrance Exam by invitation on 16th July. We pray for them as they await the results. We pray for all 18 of the students preparing to begin a new first year in August. We continue to pray for those who will now form the second year that they will all be able to return happily to the college to continue their studies.
We pray for Joseph Taban in his new role as principal with all the work that is before him as he prepares the college for opening in August. We pray for those who will be involved in teaching in the next semester, especially new members of staff currently being recruited by Joseph.
We continue to pray for the financial situation where the budget is very tight and doesn't allow for much flexibility.
We thank God for my successful tour of America, and pray that the growing friendship, prayer and financial contributions will enable growth and development of the college. We thank God for those who are looking at the possibility of future contributions to the college as we put together formal application forms for consideration by various committees. We pray for our friends in the West, who give us their hearts in true friendship.