South Sudan (MNN)— Recent clashes in South Sudan chip away at the credibility of a United Nations report stating that fighting “has diminished greatly” since putting a revitalized peace agreement in place last fall.
In fact, things have deteriorated so quickly that a delegation of South Sudanese bishops warn that the accord is bound to fail because the root problems remain unaddressed.
The ongoing instability created a new wave of refugees, explains Philip Smith, a church planter working through Streams of Living Water and One Way Ministries. “More than a million have gone to Uganda as refugees—in refugee camps in Uganda—and some other refugees have gone back to the north.”
The confirmation: a recent $2.7 million dollar appeal made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in an attempt to address the largest displacement crisis in Africa.
If nothing changes in the next year, the UN estimates over 7 million people in South Sudan will need humanitarian assistance. Of those, 5.4 million are facing famine. Smith says, unemployment is high, but even those who have jobs aren’t faring well. Plus, “As of the market itself, the prices are crazy. People are suffering. Many people are not able to get their salaries on time.”
Smith says their ministry broadened their focus a bit to help create solutions. For example, the Juba branch of the Tyrannus Missionary School is nearly complete and opened last month with great anticipation.
The training hits two areas, explains Smith. First, ”It’s a missionary training school to train church planters and send them after one full year of studies, both academics and vocational.”
Second, vocational training allows these church planters a way to earn their keep and provide a service to a community. “The one who has the skin color understands his own culture, has the language, the tongue of his own people, (and) has grown up among them,” Smith clarifies, which defines the end goal: “We send them at the end of the year, as church planters, among their own unreached people groups, mainly animistic people groups in the south.”
A Big Win for South Sudan
It’s an idea whose time has come. Its namesake is the school in Ephesus noted in Acts 19:9, where the Apostle Paul taught for two years during his third missionary journey. The dedication and opening ceremonies saw local authorities, including the governor, attending.
Plus, the faculty has a good mix of South Sudanese and Egyptians in place, lending credibility to the program. “If you have an indigenous worker trained to reach out to his indigenous people and plant churches that multiply itself [sic] among other unreached people groups in the same proximity, then this is a ‘big win’, notes Smith.
Providing the Grace to Do
It’s one way SLW/OWM can help change the few who will change the many, in spite of challenging circumstances. However, because of the difficult state of affairs, “Prayer is the key, so number one, we would love people to be aware that the Gospel is advanced in spite of the suffering; many people are hungry to be educated and trained in the Word of God.”
Number two, says Smith, consider something outside your comfort zone. “Intercede on behalf of the unreached people groups in the South of Sudan [sic]. Know more about it through Joshua Project. At the same time, if someone is interested in giving a hand, come down and teach.”
Headline Photo courtesy Randy Fath/Unsplash.