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Call to Prayer for South Sudan

Together the Reformed Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the Episcopal Church are calling for a Day of Prayer for South Sudan on Sunday, February 16, 2014.

Full-scale conflict broke out in South Sudan on December 15 as long-standings tensions escalated between factions within the ruling party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. What appears to have been a conflict within the presidential guard led to broader conflict when President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused his former vice president, Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, of an attempted coup. This led to an ethnic-centered massacre in the capital city, Juba. What started as a political divide became a civil war with strong ethnic overtones throughout the country.

Since the conflict began, more than 10,000 people have been killed and 860,000 have been displaced. There has been a huge amount of looting, rape, and other unspeakably violent acts in major towns like Juba, Malakal, Bor, Bentui, and throughout the country. South Sudan's limited number of hospitals and clinics are understaffed and overwhelmed with wounded people. Many families are homeless and hungry due to the lack of security and the inability to transport goods and resources. The United Nations estimates that 3.7 million people (roughly one-third of the population) are in acute need of food in South Sudan as a result of the current conflict.

With the assistance of the international community, South Sudan's government and opposition forces signed a ceasefire agreement on January 23. Its main points are:

  1. Stop fighting and hold current positions. Withdraw Ugandan force from conflict zones.
  2. Cease hostile propaganda.
  3. Cease all acts of violence against civilian populations.
  4. Provide corridors for safe access for humanitarian assistance to civilian populations.
  5. Establish a verification and monitoring team to enforce the ceasefire.

In spite of the ceasefire "the killing of innocent citizens is still taking place in Malakal," says John Yor Nyiker, general secretary of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan. On February 1, he says, "we encountered people burying a man who was killed in his residence. This conflict started politically and in the military and now it has become ethnic hatred among the communities.

"Our people are in urgent need of support for shelter, clean water, food, and medical and emergency supplies in the churches and hospitals."

"Disease outbreaks in the camps are of serious concern," says Raphael Gorgeu, the Médecins Sans Frontières head of mission for South Sudan. "In many areas, the healthcare system has collapsed due to the conflict. The clinics have not been resupplied and the medical staff have fled, leaving women without a safe place to give birth [and] sick children with nowhere to turn."

The signing of the ceasefire agreement provides a small sign of hope that peace may return and more international humanitarian agencies may gain access to severely affected areas to assist the people.

Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather, RCA missionaries serving with RECONCILE in Yei, South Sudan, say churches in their area fast one day a week and donate the food that they would eat to nearby refugees and camps for displaced people. Churches in Juba are having joint prayer services for peace.

Please share in a Day of Prayer for South Sudan on February 16. The people of South Sudan desire to live in peace and dignity in an all-inclusive society based on justice, equality, and respect for human rights and the rule of law. Our mission partners, the PCOSS, RECONCILE, ACROSS, and the South Sudan Council of Churches stand at the forefront of peace, reconciliation, and nation building.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

  • Pray for peace, that the terms of the ceasefire will be fully implemented by government and anti-government forces and that the ethnic violence between tribal groups will cease.
  • Pray for reconciliation, that a national reconciliation process may be developed.
  • Pray for the healing of the victims of violence, refugees, and internally displaced persons.
  • Pray for food security, health, and the safety and well-being of the people of South Sudan.
  • Pray that the churches of South Sudan may be the light, hands, and feet of Christ.
  • Pray for our missionaries and partners who are engaged in peace and reconciliation ministries.

Give. The RCA has provided $20,000 to assist with immediate needs for food, water, and shelter. Additional support is needed for more emergency supplies and to provide RECONCILE's immediate trauma healing, peace-building, and reconciliation training for refugees, displaced people, and ethnic communities. Donate at rca.org/southsudanrelief.

Join the Sudan Advocacy Action Forum. Contact Derrick Jones at djones@rca.org to sign up for periodic email updates about advocacy needs in South Sudan.

Derrick Jones
Supervisor of RCA mission in Africa
RCA Global Mission
(773) 380-2509

Posted 2/6/14

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