Despite a promise by the Sudanese government to grant its minority Christian population religious freedom, church leaders there said they are beset by increased restrictions and hostility in the wake of the South Sudan’s independence.
In 2011, South Sudan, a mostly Christian region, split from the predominantly Muslim and Arab north, in a process strongly supported by the international community and churches in the West.
The two regions had fought a two-decade long civil war that ended in 2005, following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The pact granted the South Sudanese a referendum after a six-year interim period and independence six months later. In the referendum, the people of South Sudan chose separation.
Americans were introduced to Sudan and what is now South Sudan by immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees like the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, who sought protection from a brutal dictatorship in Khartoum. Sudanese turned to the U.S. for a better life not only for themselves but in order to support their family and friends back home, and to advocate for help in stopping genocide, mass atrocities, and human rights abuses committed by an oppressive regime. Many Sudanese captured our hearts not only because of their fight for freedom and their bravery in enduring terrible suffering, but because of their resolve to access the educational and employment opportunities available in the U.S. to prepare themselves to return and help rebuild a country destroyed by decades of state-sponsored violence.
Emmanuel Jal—South Sudanese pop musician, rapper, and peace activist—was beaten and robbed this past weekend by Police in Juba, South Sudan (Rolling Stone). Jal, a former child soldier, was in his homeland promoting an upcoming concert on International Peace Day in two weeks.
“At approximately 9:30pm, Emmanuel was en route to the Gatwich guesthouse in the outskirts of Juba when he was stopped by police and robbed of his mobile phone. Imminent not to use violence, he was repeatedly beaten by 5 police and national security officers until he eventually lost consciousness."
Soon it will be Mother’s Day in the United States. For most women in developed nations, motherhood comes after months of joyful preparation to make sure the birth goes as smoothly as possible. But in places far away from the world of prenatal vitamins and baby showers, women routinely deliver their children at home, hundreds of miles away from the nearest doctor or midwife. This is the story of a health worker in South Sudan who is fighting for change and finding strength in his faith.
Sudan has promised to cease hostilities with South Sudan and comply with a UN Security Council resolution. However the foreign ministry also said that Khartoum reserved the right to respond to "aggression" from the South. The statement came hours after Juba alleged fresh bombing by the Khartoum government's forces.
Learn more about the situation in Sudan and South Sudan here
Last weekend, I had the privilege of spending some time at the End Genocide Action Summit, which brought people from all over the world to Washington, D.C., to learn about and fight against genocide, particularly the ongoing genocide being waged by Omar al-Bashir against the people of Darfur, Sudan.
God turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there God lets the hungry live ... they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield. By God's blessings they multiply greatly. -- Psalm 107:35-38
Once a week, the students at Bishop Gwynne Theological College in Juba, South Sudan, gather under the guava tree in the courtyard for an unusual sort of seminary lesson -- its focus is agriculture. In between learning about the martyrs of the early church and biblical source criticism, the students also learn about soil nutrients, photosynthesis, irrigation, pest control, and more. South Sudan, a poor region on the verge of independence after decades of conflict with the regime in the country’s north, has incredible agriculture potential. The students at Bishop Gwynne are part of the church’s broad effort to help the country realize that potential.
Robin Denney, a 29-year-old American missionary serving as an agricultural consultant to the Episcopal Church of Sudan, teaches the classes at Bishop Gwynne. On this day, she's discussing mulching. If farmers take discarded plant material and cover their fields with it, it will not only will prevent the growth of weeds, but also return nutrients to the soil as the mulch decomposes. She takes her class of 30 students out to the demonstration garden and points to the planting of sorghum, a staple grain in the region. The rows that have been mulched are taller and healthier-looking than those that haven’t.
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