Independence. Just four short years ago, the people of South Sudan voted to break away from the north and form their own independent nation with the hope of a fresh start. Finally free from their opponents in the north, they could now look forward to a better future.
But freedom is not the reality that the people of South Sudan have come to know.
While the people of South Sudan became citizens of a new country in 2011, they could not escape conflict for long. Before South Sudan became its own country, the Sudanese in the north and south expressed differing political, economic and religious views.
Four years later, the people have, once again, found themselves in the midst of conflict. This time, the president and vice president are vying against each other for power – inciting ethnic differences to mobilize fighters around the country. After nearly a year and a half of calm, the renewed fighting has left tens of thousands of people in need of protection, basic provisions such as shelter materials, cooking supplies, food items and peace. Though another Independence Day has passed, it’s important to consider the reality of the situation in South Sudan.
After 17 years, World Relief’s efforts continue despite intensifying conflict, evacuations and the loss of two staff members. Our teams, as well as those of other organizations working in the region, have had to take a step back and reevaluate our work. But, we continue to provide emergency health, nutrition and safe-child programming while we distribute food and essential goods in Unity State.
In Western Equatoria State, which has been more peaceful, we’re taking a groundbreaking approach. This year, church leaders across denominations began to meet together to serve their communities with their own resources. These pastors have great hope that their churches can be a foundation for change and peace in South Sudan.
At World Relief, this is our hope as well. The people of South Sudan are still facing great adversity, but our God is faithful. We continue to work and pray, believing that South Sudan will come to know true freedom like Jesus promises.
On July 9 South Sudan celebrated its Independence Day. While we realize the tremendous challenges that still lie ahead, we celebrate the independence they have now and the freedom that is to come.
Let’s remember the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:17: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” God’s presence is real and active in South Sudan, and he is our ultimate hope for true freedom.
Since 1998, World Relief has responded alongside the local church in South Sudan. Through disaster response, agricultural development and health programs, we’re laying the foundations for lasting peace.
You can join us today as we continue to provide emergency food and medical supplies to the people most affected by the unrelenting conflict.