Hope and healing in South Sudan

south sudanRev Michael Oban Obat is determined to rebuild South Sudan following a bloody civil war that left tens of thousands of casualties and displaced more than a million people.

Mr Obat is a minister of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, a partner of the Uniting Church in Australia.

During the civil war (2013-2015), the Presbyterian Church lost all of its buildings and its theological college was burnt to the ground. Many of the leaders were killed or forced to flee across the border.

Mr Obat fled to Egypt but returned to South Sudan last year, vowing to bring hope and healing to people in his country.

“This is what my people need – they need healing from the terrible wounds of war. They need to hear God’s Word of hope and peace,” Mr Obat told UnitingWorld.

“They needed to be taught to live peace, to breathe it – commit to it, work for it. That is why I came back – because my church has work to do.”

Christian leaders were instrumental in bringing together President Salvar Kiir and Vice President Riek for a peace accord last year.

Since then, the two warring factions have maintained a fragile peace. Just this week, rebel forces in South Sudan claimed that government troops attacked their garrison in a town in the country’s north. The rebels threatened retaliation, stoking fears of another full-blown military confrontation.

UnitingWorld is asking Uniting Church members to support Christian leaders in South Sudan working towards peace and reconciliation in the country.

Dr Sureka Goringe, UnitingWorld’s associate director of church connections, said Christian peacemakers are the “face and hands and feet of God” in South Sudan.

“They are weaving peace person-to-person – offering trauma counselling and practical help, listening to and encouraging people of different tribal groups to spend time together and creating bonds that will not allow them to turn on one another in future,” she said.

“In the fear, grief and pain that is the inheritance of South Sudan, the leadership of faithful Christians and the compassionate and passionate mission of the Church, is both the beacon of hope and the guiding hand, leading to a better way.”

UnitingWorld is calling on Uniting Church congregations to support the church in South Sudan so they can regather scattered leaders and equip new ones with the skills to bring about peace and reconciliation.

When Mr Obat returned to South Sudan, he and his fellow minister, Tut, salvaged some books from a burnt-out library and started teaching theology in an abandoned bakery with five students. Since then, it has expanded into the new Nile Theological College, which currently trains 20 students to be the next generation of church leaders.

With the support of UnitingWorld, the church in South Sudan can bring hope and healing to people deeply traumatised by violence. They can also support victims of rape, promote reconciliation, rebuild schools and hospitals and engage in advocacy.

You can support South Sudanese peacemakers by donating on the UnitingWorld website.

Congregations are also encouraged to host a ‘Peace Gathering’ by sharing a Sudanese meal with their church, family or community group. The UnitingWorld website has tips on how you can host these gatherings, including recipes and prayers for peace.


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