Beloved in Christ,
On Friday, July 9, South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, is marking its 10th anniversary.
The day should be a cause for celebration. The people of South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for independence in a January 2011 referendum, yearning for an end to the two Sudanese civil wars that had claimed more than 2.5 million lives over the previous 55 years. Sadly, the South Sudanese people’s dreams of peace were short-lived, as a new conflict broke out in December 2013.
With the prayerful support of the South Sudan Council of Churches, which is fostering peace through its Action Plan for Peace, the country has achieved some progress toward peace and reconciliation, particularly since the signing of the latest iteration of the peace agreement in September 2018. Nonetheless, the past decade has been marked with ongoing violence, particularly against women and girls. Huge humanitarian needs persist, including extreme levels of food insecurity; 8.3 million people are expected to need humanitarian support in 2021.
The Ecumenical Network for South Sudan (Europe and North America Hub), of which the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a member, has issued the following statement and has urged members to demonstrate their solidarity with the people of South Sudan through prayer, particularly during the weekend of July 9–11.
Let us pray fervently for our siblings in Christ in South Sudan, particularly those “who for many years have borne the burden of conflicts and injustice, instead of enjoying the fruits of a new system.” Let us remember, too, our global partners in the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, RECONCILE, ACROSS 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 achieve a just and durable peace in South Sudan, but also to realize the gospel’s vision of life in fullness for all of God’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;
- E051172, Presbyterian World Mission’s South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project;
- E052152, the Presbyterian Ministry at the U.N. and the Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., which help to amplify our partners’ voices in the public square.
Let us look to God, our help, our hope and our salvation.
Gracious and loving God,
As people of faith, we “rejoice with those who rejoice [and] weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
Today, we weep,
With the people of South Sudan whose dreams of peace and prosperity have been frustrated by greed and conflict
With all who have lost lives and loved ones to war
With survivors of violence struggling to come to terms with the trauma they have endured.
Lord, we weep with all victims of conflict and human rights violations in South Sudan and around the world. We pray for a day when all violence ceases and all your children are treated with the love and dignity that they deserve.
In spite of our weeping, Lord, we also rejoice because you are a good God of justice and mercy.
We rejoice, giving thanks for
The people of South Sudan who have demonstrated incredible faithfulness, perseverance and resilience in the face of hardship and conflict
The churches and pastors who continue to comfort and encourage their congregations
The continuing efforts of South Sudanese, regional and global leaders to forge a just and durable peace.
Lord, we rejoice that in the midst of the conflict there is hope for peace. We celebrate the authentic expression of popular will that gave birth to South Sudan a decade ago, and we pray that all South Sudan’s people may enjoy the fruits of freedom in abundance.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.