Independence: the beginning of a new life

By July 12, 2011

Sudan (MNN) — South Sudan marked independence Saturday with
the jubilation of a people group freed from oppression. Seventy-two hours later, the big question is: Now

South Sudan has big expectations to fill as its birth is the
culmination of a six-year peace process ending a brutal civil war. However, the new nation is wrestling with
extreme poverty, inadequate infrastructure, conflict and other economic

On Monday, lawmakers formed a caretaker government and announced a new currency. Lorella Rouster with Every Child Ministries (ECM) says these
are all great steps forward, but there's an absence that's too glaring to
ignore. "I don't see the attention of the world to help them."

South Sudan's struggles are similar to those of Northern
Uganda. When Northern Uganda came to the
world's consciousness, they got help. But aid groups offering to help this
newest fledgling nation get on its feet have not been overloud. Despite the veneer of new, it's still a
rural Third World country that lacks basic health, education, and roads, not to
mention hotels, airports and internet access.  

Rouster says this is where they can be helpful. They're an agency dedicated to showing the love of Jesus through mercy ministries to homeless street children,
through seeking to release and retrain slave children, and through medical and
rehabilitation ministries to the sick and handicapped.

Foresight and planning allowed ECM to be strategically
placed. "I was there just a few days before Independence, training church and
orphanage workers in Southern Sudan in more effective ways of children's
ministry,"says Rouster.

Government reports show that those who fled North from the
South are now returning home in droves. Agencies and ministries in the South are bracing for an influx of people
who need their services and compassion. Rouster says, "The churches really need to reach out to the new
generation that is coming up if there is to be any hope of the future. To do
that, they need to make the training fun and exciting and not just sitting there
listening to another sermon. So we believe that it can have a very positive

Sudan ranks 154 out of 169 on the United Nation's Human
Development Index. South Sudan's
challenges will be converting its vast natural resources into support that keeps
its people alive.

Rouster explains that
while the oil is in the South, there is little else right now. "Prices are very high in Southern Sudan.
Living is very hard, and rain is needed too for the crops. If the rain does not
come, the prices will be way too high for the average person."

South Sudan, or "New Sudan" as it's sometimes referenced,
teeters on the edge of being the next failed state if the new government can't
keep social, economic and political pressures under control. As if to acknowledge the formidability of its
task, the ministers of the Southern Sudanese government–with hands on Bibles–were sworn in to their
caretaker role for the new Republic of South Sudan.

Rouster commented, "I think it's a question of whether they
can continue to develop the integrity in their new government in such a way
that God can bless their country. That's what we're praying for, and that's
what Christians are praying for in Sudan: not only that there'll be peace, but 
[also] that their new government will really seek the Lord."

ECM is celebrating South Sudan's "new beginning" by sharing
the Gospel with the next generation. Says Rouster, "We
would like people to pray that people would use the teaching that we have given
them and be effective in reaching the new generation. The techniques that we've given are good for
large groups, so I think that's good for the influx of new children."

"Pray that the leaders will remain strong," says Rouster. The days ahead will be taxing, but exhilarating.  As ECM's Sudan presence grows, keep
praying "that they'll be up to the
challenge, that they will have great vision. The churches in Southern Sudan
have been growing at a tremendous rate, but that also leaves a big leadership
gap, so pray that strong leaders will rise up."

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