Dear BGC Prayer Partners, Just a few updates from South Sudan.
- I have just heard from Bishop Enock of Rejaf to say that things are calmer. He writes:
BGC is in the same "Mission Area" a few yards from Bishop Enock's house, and will, therefore, also be relatively safe. This area also includes the Juba Diocesan Model Secondary School, Confident Children out of Conflict, MAF and World Relief etc.The shooting has almost stopped except for some few shots here and there. Life is returning to normal and shops have started to open. Please continue to pray so that peace is fully restored to the city of Juba that has been in turnmoil since the night of Sunday 15, December 2013 until this morning. I reside in Mission Area that is relatively safe as there is no military barracks close by. Our Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul is also safe.
- I have also heard from Bishop Abraham of Aweil who writes:
As I am sending you this email to pray for us, we already lost 12 people, more then 130 people are wounded, many are still missing and many people are been displaced. No one believe what has happened in South Sudan because South Sudan is a nation just came out from the longest suffering but our politicians are already forgotten what we went through, very sad.
Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, so that we can celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ peacefully. God bless you all!
- The following is a message from all the church leaders who remain united and oppossed to all forms tribalism. The churches remain a beacon of hope.
MESSAGE OF PEACE AND RECONCILIATION FROM CHURCH LEADERS IN JUBA, 17th DECEMBER 2013
"So the king said, ‘Bring me a sword’, and they brought a sword before the king. The king said, ‘Divide the living boy in two; then give half to one, and half to the other.’ But the woman whose son was alive said to the king—because compassion for her son burned within her—‘Please, my lord, give her the living boy; certainly do not kill him!’ The other said, ‘It shall be neither mine nor yours; divide it.’Then the king responded: ‘Give the first woman the living boy; do not kill him. She is his mother.’All Israel heard of the judgement that the king had rendered; and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him, to execute justice. (1 Kings 3:24-28) "
Whatever has happened in Juba over the last few days, we are concerned about the consequences. There is a political problem between leaders within the SPLM. This should not be turned into an ethnic problem. Sadly, on the ground it is developing into tribalism. This must be defused urgently before it spreads. Reconciliation is needed between the political leaders. Violence is not an acceptable way of resolving disputes. This must be done in a peaceful and civilised manner. Reconciliation is at the heart of the Church's ministry, a key Gospel value, and so we offer ourselves as mediators.
The way this incident is handled will have an effect on the future of our nation, whether positive or negative, both internally and in terms of international relations. We are concerned about ongoing insecurity. Today was supposed to be a normal business day, but that was not the case. Fighting, killing and looting continued. The army must be controlled. We appeal to the security forces, who are our brothers, our sons and our parishioners, to exercise restraint and responsibility and to respect civilians. We urge the civilians to remain calm and to stay somewhere safe. The government should give information to civilians when there are security operations and direct them where to go for safety.
We wish to see assurances for the safety of our international friends, including those from neighbouring countries, who are here to help us. We urge the government, UN and NGOs to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced civilians in Juba, and to ensure that water and food are available for the population.
We are in the season leading up to Christmas. This year's Christmas may not be what we expected, but it is what we have been given and we must accept it as it is. As we celebrate the birth of the Christ-child, let us remember that God is with us, and pray for the strength and courage to bring peace, reconciliation and healing to our new nation.
Text of message given to TV and radio media on 17th December 2013 by Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro on behalf of the following Church leaders:
Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, (Catholic Church)
Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, ECSSS (Anglican)
Bishop Arkangelo Wani Lemi, AIC Moderator (Africa Inland Mission)
Rev Tut Kony Nyang, SSPEC (Presbyterian)
Rev John Yor Nyiker, Secretary General PCOSS (Pentecostal)
Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban, (Catholic Church)
Bishop Michael Taban Toro, Chair SSCC (South Sudan Coucil of Churches)
Rev Mark Akec Cien, Acting Secretary General SSCC (South Sudan Coucil of Churches)