At the April meeting of the Pilgrim Church Council, it was agreed that we would support several projects from our social justice budget.
One of them is the Africa Famine Appeal, to support people in South Sudan. The Uniting Church in Australia has a partnership with the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, part of the South Sudan Council of Churches.
“Without urgent aid, over 1 million people are likely to die of starvation. Famine has been declared in South Sudan. It’s the first time in six years that famine has been declared anywhere in the world. Nearly 5 million people – more than 40 percent of South Sudan’s population – are in need of urgent food. In the worst hit parts of the country, one in three children is acutely malnourished. In a country already devastated by war and a collapsed economy, severe drought is the final straw – families have exhausted every means they have to survive. We need to act now – it is the beginning of the lean season. Without much-needed aid, the number of people going hungry is expected to rise to 5.5 million by July”.
A recent message from the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) says the Resurrection reminds us that even in this world there is “goodness and light with triumph”. In an “Easter message of hope for the people of South Sudan – 2017” the SSCC reminded the South Sudan people that “at this time of year we recall that Christ Jesus too suffered”, that “as a baby he was displaced from his country and had to flee as a refugee to a neighbouring country with Mary and Joseph (Matthew 2:13-15).”
When South Sudan became independent on 9 July 2011, after decades of brutal war with Khartoum government forces in Sudan, the world was filled with optimism, since the churches had played a key role in helping broker the process. But civil conflict began in 2013 and has since continually worsened. “Killing, looting, raping, arbitrary detention, torture, tribalism, terror, fear, anxiety, hate speech and lies, displacement, hunger, poverty, famine, corruption, and economic collapse continue in our young nation, seemingly unabated. These things are evil and we cannot pretend that they do not exist,” say the church leaders.
The SSCC’s message recalls how Jesus lived as “a humble manual worker under an oppressive regime, was falsely accused by corrupt power-seeking leaders, was unjustly arrested and imprisoned, and finally was tortured to death for his opposition to the behaviour of those in power. Many South Sudanese have suffered the same fate.”
The SSCC message concludes: “The Resurrection he offers us is certainly connected with the Eternal Life promised to us, but it is not only something for the future… The Resurrection reminds us that even in this world, evil and death will not continue for ever; goodness and light will triumph.”