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Swords into Plowshares is the blog of the Peacemaking Program and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations of the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

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May 1, 2013

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Asks for Prayers to End Violence in South Sudan

from our partners in World Mission

The crisis in South Sudan’s Jonglei State has escalated alarmingly in recent weeks.  The deteriorating situation has prompted the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to express deepening concern for the people of the region and to renew its urgent call to prayer and action to promote justice, peace and genuine security for the affected populations.

Since the beginning of 2013 the government of South Sudan’s campaign to disarm rebel forces led by David Yau Yau has triggered a growing number of clashes between the South Sudanese military (SPLA) and Yau Yau’s insurgents.  These engagements have inflicted heavy losses, not only on the rebels, but also on the South Sudanese military, which has been badly shaken by the conflict.  A recent battle in Okello, east of Pibor town, killed 20 SPLA soldiers and wounded 50 more while the rebels suffered 143 casualties.

In addition, a large number of civilians, mostly ethnic Murle people, have been caught in the crossfire between the rebels and the military or in the inter-communal violence that further complicates the quest for peace in South Sudan.   Twelve civilians, including seven women, three children and two men, were wounded by the SPLA and evacuated by the Red Cross to Malakal, where they are now hospitalized, in addition to an unconfirmed number of other civilians who lost their lives fleeing from Gumuruk to Pibor.  More than 100 civilians and 15 SPLA soldiers died in a cattle raid allegedly perpetrated by Yau Yau rebels in February.  Inter-ethnic conflict has also erupted in the form of cattle raiding between the youth of Warrap and Unity states, resulting in the deaths of 35 individuals. Thousands of people, including nearly all of the 9,000 residents of Pibor town, have fled their homes to escape the violence.

On April 9, rebel forces reportedly attacked a United Nations convoy carrying humanitarian aid to vulnerable communities in Jonglei State.  Five UN peacekeepers and seven civilian staff of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were killed in the ambush.

Rev. John Yor, General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS), was pleased to report that in response to the continuing violence the Sudan Council of Churches, a PC(USA) partner, has been appointed by President Salva Kiir to lead a peace initiative in conflict-ridden areas of South Sudan with special focus on Jonglei State.

A scar of the 22-year civil war is the emergence of a culture of impunity and lack of respect for human life throughout much of South Sudan. Earlier this month Rev. David Obdalla, the Vice-Moderator of the PCOSS, was murdered in his home in Malakal in Unity State.   The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) asks for prayers for his family and friends and for the whole of the PCOSS.

What you can do
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seeks to encourage the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan and the people of Jonglei State in their quest for justice, peace and reconciliation. The General Assembly of the PC(USA) has repeatedly adopted resolutions and overtures to support peace and reconciliation initiatives for Sudan and to urge PC(USA) “members, congregations, leaders and governing bodies to be strong advocates of peace with justice in Sudan” through intercessory prayer and by pressing U.S. elected officials and international organizations to exert their influence to ensure that the people of Sudan can enjoy peace and genuine security.

Presbyterian World Mission (PWM) invites you and your congregation to:

1.     Pray regularly and fervently for the people, government and churches of South Sudan, especially those who are mourning the loss of loved ones and those injured in the conflicts. A suggested prayer appears below.

2.     Learn more about the situation in South Sudan through individual study or corporate inquiry in your mission committee, adult education classes, or women’s, men’s or youth groups.  The Africa Office of PWM can help you to identify appropriate study materials. You can also follow postings on PWM's South Sudan website and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations’ “Swords into Plowshares” blog.

3.     Write to your members of Congress and the Secretary of State to share your concern for the safety of the people of Jonglei State.  Ask them to assist the government of South Sudan to provide appropriate training to the military to enable them to protect civilians impartially and to use their influence to promote genuine security for all the region’s residents. The PC(USA)’s Office of Public Witness can offer further resources for advocacy.

4.     Join the Sudan Advocacy Action Forum to advocate for peace and justice in Sudan and South Sudan.

Prayer for South Sudan
God of grace,
God of justice,
God of peace,
you create us to live together,
to honor and respect one another.

 Hear us as we pray for South Sudan.

We pray for the people of South Sudan.
Particularly we pray for the people of Jonglei State.
Grant courage to turn from violence;
grace to see each other as sisters and brothers;
strength to work for justice for all;
passion to seek reconciliation and peace;
and all that is needed for the living of these days.

We pray for the churches of South Sudan;
Particularly we pray for the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan.
Grant renewed faith to witness boldly to Christ;
hope that sustains and builds community;
comfort in the midst of grieving;
particularly we pray for the family of the Rev. David Obdalla
and all who mourn the death or injury of loved ones.
We pray that the churches might receive
strength to work for justice for all;
passion to seek reconciliation and peace;
and all that is needed for the living of these days.

We pray for the leaders of South Sudan.
Grant vision for a just and peaceful country;
wisdom to govern wisely;
strength to work for justice for all;
passion to seek peace and reconciliation;
and all that is needed for the living of these days.

We pray for the peoples and nations of the world.
Grant compassion for the people of South Sudan;
commitment to act in ways
that enhance the well-being of all the people;
strength to work for justice for all;
passion to seek peace and reconciliation;
and all that is needed for the living of these days.

God of grace,
God of justice,
God of peace,
you create us to live together,
to honor and respect one another.
Bless South Sudan and her people.
We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Categories: Prayer, South Sudan

Tags: grace, justice, peace, prayer, south sudan, violence


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