Photos courtesy of Words of Hope
Sudan (MNN) ― Southern Sudan declared its independence on Saturday amidst celebration and relief.
However, the fact is that land, oil and tribes just don't mix well, whatever the government promises. In the days preceding the secession, Lee DeYoung with Words of Hope says, "Ethnic clashes have been reported among Southern Sudanese in States of Warrap, Jonglei and Lakes. In Lakes State, fighting has erupted between two different tribes of Dinkas: Dinka-Gok of Cueibet, and Dinka Agar of Rumbek."
Humanitarian needs arising from fighting and other violence remain dire in the transitional border regions. Tens of thousands have been displaced at the same time thousands are returning home from the North.
In a step toward making a new start and stopping the cycle of violence, communities have been encouraging peaceful reconciliation with the tribal youth. DeYoung says their broadcasting partners have been doing the same thing. "Our programs for the last year and a half have been striving to encourage peace and reconciliation among south Sudanese Christians. That has certainly been the consistent message of our denominational partners on the ground there as well."
Dinka-language production had been based at the Lokichoggio Ministry Center at the Kenya-Sudan border, where Nuer-language production continues. Since most Christian Dinkas are Anglican, Words of Hope has a Dinka production team in consultation with Anglican partners in Uganda. Rumbek, a town in the heart of Dinka territory, has been chosen for the Dinka production base.
DeYoung says churches throughout the country have been holding daily prayer vigils since last week. With church leaders demonstrating such unity, it seems clear they're intent on leading by example."The overwhelming majority of southern Sudanese profess to be Christian. On the basis of our common brother and sisterhood in Christ, we've been seeking to encourage a sense that would counterbalance the ethnic rivalries."
The challenges facing this fledgling nation are huge. There are still border and trade issues to be settled as well as the division of the natural resources.Developing an infrastructure is another huge problem in a country that will be one of the poorest in the world. Conflict follows poverty, or in this case, it might just share the ride.
Still, DeYoung says optimism and hope are carried in the voices of their partners. The Gospel has made a huge difference in the areas they cover. Pray that they'll continue to be part of the peace solution. "While no one can be certain, our Sudanese colleagues are cautiously hopeful that the violence that has flared up recently might subside after independence becomes official and people are then fully governed by their own South Sudan administration."