Message from Sister Joan

Message from Sister Joan
October 22, 2019 Susan Oxley
A boy holds a sign at a church-sponsored women's peace rally in Juba, South Sudan. Photo by Paul Jeffrey

I am sending you a special message with an urgent request for prayers for the people of South Sudan. The government and opposition, who have been fighting since the end of 2013, have been engaged in implementing a peace agreement which is to result in a Transitional Government of National Unity, to be installed on Nov. 12. I will be in South Sudan Nov. 5-22, visiting the ministries of Solidarity with South Sudan.

The opposition leader, Riek Machar, is asking for another extension so that the peace plan is more fully implemented, including the formation of an integrated army of 83,000 and a security force. He indicates that he will not return and take up his office of vice president unless this happens. Currently, the UN Security Council and IGAD (leaders of surrounding countries) are in South Sudan, meeting with President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar and other key persons. The UN and IGAD are opposed to another extension.

These days the people of South Sudan are living with much fear and uncertainty. There is the possibility that civil war could again restart after nearly a year-long cease fire, during which many people have returned home from the IDP camps, and businesses have re-started. It will be a real tragedy if this happens.

The Catholic bishops of South Sudan released a statement on Oct. 18: “We pray for our nation. We pray for the suffering citizens who are being denied their right to peace, justice and prosperity. We pray for those with guns who are being manipulated into violence. We pray for the leaders, who are also our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, part of our pastoral flock, that they may gain the courage to overcome their fear and not be ashamed, to repent of their failures and to humbly and selflessly lead our nation to lasting peace.” Read full statement

Lots of prayer energy is needed that the Spirit will touch the hearts of the leaders, all around, including support for the peace process from the international community. Please ask your community, family and friends to add South Sudan to their long list of prayer intentions (find prayer resources on the Friends in Solidarity web site). And please pray that my visit to South Sudan brings hope and assurance of our care and concern to Solidarity staff and South Sudanese whom I will meet.

When Solidarity with South Sudan embarked on the education of teachers in this war-torn country 10 years ago, they decided to focus on training primary school teachers. The need was for 26,000 teachers; the need now is for even more qualified teachers. Solidarity is entering into a joint pilot program with the Catholic University of South Sudan to send 20 students to participate in a program resulting in a B.A. degree. Read more about this new program and how you can support it.

Advent is just around the corner. Friends in Solidarity has prepared two Advent calendars, one for students and one for adults. Join us to learn more about South Sudan and the work of Solidarity. View/download student Advent calendar | View/download adult Advent calendar

Sister Joan Mumaw, IHM
President and Chief Administrative Officer
Friends in Solidarity, Inc.

We invite you to join us in 15 minutes of silent prayer for South Sudan on any of the days when Sister Joan will be in the country (November 5-22).

Featured image: A boy holds a sign at a church-sponsored women’s peace rally in Juba, South Sudan. Photo by Paul Jeffrey

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