In January of 2013, I joined with my colleagues Jeff Tindall and Ken White for an exploratory visit to South Sudan. Together with three members of the Malawian church, we sought to discern whether or not God was calling the Presbyterian churches in Pittsburgh, Blantyre (Malawi), and Juba (South Sudan) into an intentional tripartite community. After a leadership retreat there was consensus that this was the exact right thing to do – and the relationship was launched.
Since then, we’ve received several South Sudanese visitors in Pittsburgh, and we have joined together in a trip to Malawi. But the recent conflict in South Sudan has rendered us unable to visit with our sisters and brothers there…until today.
I’ll be joining five other travelers for an intentional (and, probably, intense) time of prayer and reflection on “the things that make for peace” as we visit the leadership and congregations of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC) for worship, retreat, celebration, listening, story-telling, faith-sharing, and sharing meals. Susan, Ruth, Sharon, Ken, Gary and I leave today for Juba. As the attached prayer calendar shows, we’ll stay in the capital city for a few days, and then head to the town of Yei for a retreat facilitated by our partners at the Resource Centre for Civil Leadership (RECONCILE). Our deep hope is that this time will plant seeds in and amongst us that will help each participant know more deeply the calling that the Lord has for his people in terms of modeling and sharing the call to live as Christ’s own people. We further dare to hope that as a result of our time together, faith communities in South Sudan, the USA, and even elsewhere might be better able to reflect the love of Christ into a world that does not recognize such love often enough.
My hope and expectation is that there will be further updates as internet connectivity permits. Please hold us and all who share in this journey in prayer. In the meantime, please take a few moments to learn more about South Sudan from the BBC. A posting from the UN is below.