Ethnic Reconciliation for South Sudanese Refugees

Warring political and ethnic factions are continuing heavy fighting in South Sudan, and the refugee crisis is growing worse daily. In neighboring Ethiopia, ARDF is working with the local Anglican community to provide for refugees who have literally nothing. Some of those displaced are still in need of food, water and medicine, others have received basic care and need clothing shelter and hope.

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We recently received an update from the local Bishop, Dr. Grant LeMarquand, describing his visit to a refugee camp, and a beautiful glimpse of reconciliation during an inter-ethnic worship service:

Malakal1I have just returned an hour ago from a five day trip to Dimma where there is a new refugee camp…I met on Saturday afternoon with leaders of the new Anglican Church in the camp. As their bishop I was asked to provide a name for the church. Reflecting on their need to find a place of refuge I named them “Holy Family’ and explained to them that Jesus understood what they were going through since he was himself a refugee.

Malakal5They are receiving adequate food and shelter form the UN and the WFP. They had three requests (aside from asking me to baptize about 70 people and license some lay readers!): They have tukals (huts) to sleep in, but no place for a community shelter for worship, or other meetings such as a place to teach their children (it will be some time before a school is set up). They also need Bibles in various languages and clothes. They had to leave their homes in Sudan in a hurry and many literally had to flee with the clothes on their back.

Malakal6I had about $150 with me and spent it all in the Dimma market buying what clothes I could. The priest from Dimma came back to Gambella with me and my plan is to provide him with a couple of thousand dollars to buy clothes to give to Holy Family Anglican Church.

Malakal7 On Monday morning, I led worship at the camp. I was told that there were about 600 members, but 800 turned up. We started at 7.30 a, so that we could worship in the coolest part of the day. We kept it really short (2 and a half hours) since we had a lot of baptisms. We also had the Eucharist which many had not had in a while.

Malakal4I caught a glimpse of the kingdom at this service. Although a large part of the fighting in South Sudan is ethnically-based violence, this church had made a decision. They would worship together in spite of ethnic and language differences. So we sang and prayed in Anuak, Nuer, Dinka and Murle (my 10 minute sermon have to be translated into 3 of those languages made it at least 45 minutes…). I was so grateful to be able to experience this inter-ethnic worship–kind of an ‘in your face’ to the devil I think.”

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Images are from the Malakal Refugee Camp in South Sudan.

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