South Sudan (MNN) — Two schools in South Sudan have the potential to address the same tribal conflicts that caused them to close a few years ago.
In 2014, Jeff Stam of Set Free Ministries was just about ready to leave South Sudan after a conference when a friend invited him to go look at a couple of schools in a small village.
The schools — one primary and one secondary — and the village, had been abandoned when violence passed through the area. Among the people left in the village, there were only a few children.
The buildings, though in need of repair, spoke of opportunity and possibility. Stam met with the Ministry of Education and asked them to hand the schools over so they could try to reopen them. He returned home, thinking the suggestion would come to nothing.
But God had a different plan. Fast forward to the present day. Not only does Set Free have possession of the school buildings and the 20-acre compound, but when able, the government will pay the salaries and provide school materials. Even better, they agreed not to interfere with the way the school is run.
Despite the lack of resources, the long-distance planning, and the need for repairs, the primary school has already held classes and is in their second term.
“We found out last term they had four volunteer teachers and they had 39 students that represented about four different grade levels and they started a school. And we were wondering if this would even happen within the next year. So we are amazed at what God is doing,” Stam says.
Set Free knew these schools would have the potential to bring people back to the village. It’s been working already. In addition, they are hoping both schools will help bring people together.
The secondary school sits on a 20-acre compound and is still in need of repairs, but they’re hoping to have it open for classes this coming January. The goal with this school is to create an academy where people from different tribal groups can come and learn together and build relationships for the future. It goes along with the theme of reconciliation we talked about yesterday.
In addition, Set Free wants to put meaning behind the name “Freedom Christian School.” They want the school to be a place that intentionally teaches the Gospel to these children.
Part of community development is ensuring the local people can begin to support themselves. That’s why Set Free hopes to hand the schools over to local control very quickly.
There are a few ways you can pray. First of all, while the most recent outbreak of conflict has left this particular area alone, there’s always uncertainty about the future. Another concern is the government currently does not have the money to pay salaries or provide school supplies. Set Free wants to help with this and is raising money, but even the act of getting the money where it needs to be is challenged by a complicated banking system.
Stam says, “It’s our prayer that the peace will hold there, that we’ll be able to continue to run the schools. A very practical prayer request we have is getting funding to them.”
Finally, you can be praying for those on the ground helping the school run. There are the locals, for starters. And there are those who have been called from far away, including one missionary couple arriving at the end of the month (we’ll tell you their story soon).
While you keep these things in your mind for prayer, perhaps God will move you to help in other ways. You can help raise funds for this project here, just make sure you specify you’re giving towards schools in South Sudan.