“People are starving at the door of my house,” The Rt Revd Moses Deng Bol, Bishop of Wau, South Sudan writes. He is describing the thousands of people who have come to the Cathedral compound in Wau looking for help. They are desperate!
The scale of this famine was predicted back in December. According to the Famine Early Warning Network (FEWS), “Typically, September to January is a relatively food secure period in South Sudan, as the harvest is ongoing. This year, the harvest is expected to be below average in most areas, primarily due to conflict-related disruptions.”
In addition, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported in January, “With as little as one-quarter of expected rainfall received, widespread drought conditions in the Horn of Africa have intensified since the failure of the October-December rains.” Twenty million people are nearing starvation. All of this puts pressure on the Anglican church in South Sudan.
Bishop Moses has been a long time ARDF partner. His Diocese of Wau has 800 churches and as it is in the northwest of South Sudan, receives huge numbers of internally displaced people (IDPs, basically domestic refugees) whenever tribal violence spikes. Committed to preaching the Word of God, Bishop Moses sees development as playing a vital role in presenting the gospel to non believers. In 2012, he commented on his partnership with ARDF:
“I think most of the people who are not believers will really see that the church is meeting not only the spiritual needs – which I came to do – but also the physical needs. I believe that will also result in a peace building as that is an area that has been dominated by tribal conflict as you are hearing. And I am hoping that we will use this project to bring communities together for talking about health water sanitation, about cleanliness. But then we will also talk about peace.”
In February of 2017, he wrote to us:
“We had had another conflict in Southern part of Wau town recently. Over four thousand people have been displaced and are now camping in our Cathedral compound. I am borrowing food items from businessmen in Wau market because people are starving at the door of my house especially elderly people, pregnant mothers, women who have just delivered and children who have been separated from their parents. These people have not been given any relief food since they arrived at our Cathedral compound.”
In the current emergency, Bishop Moses is just doing whatever he can to save lives. Inflation is at 800% and Bishop Moses fears being arrested by the businessmen if he cannot pay them back.
The new influx of IDPs in Wau town was caused by fighting between different tribal groups. At the Cathedral, the Bishop Moses welcomed them saying that the Church does not belong to any one community or one person but it belongs to all people.
Despite the horrific nature of this crisis, this message of peace and hope is one ARDF wishes to send with its South Sudan Famine Relief campaign for Lent 2017. Please join the effort!