Dear Friends in Christ,
Deeply troubled by recent events in Jonglei State, South Sudan, which perpetuate and intensify decades of ethnic conflict and injustice, the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) and the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC) have asked all Presbyterians to join in praying for justice, peace and security for the people of South Sudan.
According to reports we have received, in the latest episode of a longstanding interethnic conflict, Dinka Bor and Nuer youth joined forces on June 11, 2020, to attack a number of Murle villages as a revenge, burning everything to the ground. Three days later, they attacked Gumuruk, 20 miles west of Pibor, with similar ferocity, even destroying nongovernmental organization (NGO) food storage depots in the town.
Although there is no official record of casualties from the conflict, observers estimate the death toll to be in the hundreds, with many more injured. They also report that hundreds of women and children have been abducted from area villages, many people are in hiding and a large number of cattle have been stolen.
Local government officials claim that Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) soldiers are fueling and exploiting ethnic tensions to further their own agenda. They point to the fact that the attackers are well-armed with long-range artillery, rocket propelled grenades, AK-47 machine guns and antitank rocket launchers — weaponry to which the youth would not normally have access. They also appear to have air support.
The fighting continues to spread and intensify, and PCOSS pastors are working tirelessly to head off new attacks in the Lekwangole area north of Pibor, and to minister to those affected by the fighting who are in need of food and medical assistance.
Let us pray fervently for our siblings in Christ in South Sudan, and, in particular, for those who have been forced to flee their homes, have been abducted, or are living in fear of fresh attacks. Let us remember, too, our global partners in the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, RECONCILE, and the South Sudan Council of Churches. May God grant them protection and courage, as well as gifts of wisdom and persuasiveness, as they work not simply to resolve the current crisis, but to break the long-running cycle of violence by advancing justice, building durable peace and instilling hope and unity among South Sudan’s people. Please pray further for political leaders in South Sudan and around the world, that they will demonstrate a commitment to promoting equal dignity, genuine security, and freedom from want for all people, both through their own actions and by working in concert through international institutions.
I would also invite those who feel able to do so to contribute to the PC(USA)’s efforts to accompany and support our partners’ ministries by making gifts to:
- DR000097-South Sudan, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance’s crisis response and recovery initiatives in South Sudan;
- E052172-1, Presbyterian World Mission’s South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project;
- E052152, the Presbyterian Ministry at the UN and the Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., help to amplify our partners’ voices in the public square.
Let us look to God, our help, our hope and our salvation.
In Faith We Share,
Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly