"He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
'Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!'"
- Psalm 46:9-10
South Sudan is the world's newest nation.
It was officially established as a country in 2011 independent of Sudan after decades of civil war. Ever since gaining independence, it has been suffering through vicious and violent inner turmoil. Some say the conflict is caused by fighting over abundant oil fields. Some say it is caused by competition over livestock. Most say that it is caused by political power struggle paired with deep-rooted ethnic differences.
No matter the cause, the current violence and often-failed peace treaties have forced more than a million people in the region to flee their home villages in search of safety. Unfortunately for these internally displaced families, the warring army factions have also closed off the borders with neighboring countries to which the families may flee. This makes transporting of any international aid supplies into South Sudan extremely difficult, and it makes fleeing the country from inside nearly impossible.
Despite the terrors of the situation, the Body of Christ is still thriving in South Sudan. Thanks to your generous support, IDES had the opportunity to partner with a local Christian church in the region to provide emergency food relief to feed 1500 men, women, and children who had fled their homes for 3-4 weeks.
"It is important to provide the local church family the resources so that they can be the conscience of their community," our partner said. "As you may have picked up, there is no other entity that represents a diversity of indigenous population that is reaching out to their [own] community, and the families at the local church are reaching beyond tribal lines."
Due to the ongoing gunfights, the strategy for distribution of the food had to be changed.
"The marginalized displaced population would not gather at the distribution point for fear that they would be killed. Food was subdivided and taken back in partial bulk to the makeshift homes of the displaced. Food was distributed by a number system lot to prevent riots," our partner reported.
In each camp, our partners from the local church preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the families as the food was distributed. It was made clear to each family that the food was made available because of God's love for them.
"Specifically this project showed the power of God to allow his people to operate in service to their community in a time of war. The Christians in the region were edified in knowing that God had not forgotten them as they had joyfully shown mercy to the incoming displaced population...The distribution was not only a victory for the 1500+ that ate for weeks after, but also for the Kingdom of Christ to project the image of a loving and caring God."
The local church in this region in South Sudan was moved deeply to help their brothers and sisters who were displaced from their homes. Even though the majority of the congregation is also desperately poor, they wanted to help--just like the Macedonian church members that Paul references in 2 Corinthians 8 who were also poor but wanted to give beyond their ability to do so. Your generosity expressed through IDES was matched with their willingness to help as God's blessings were shown and spoken to the refugee families.
"I cannot underestimate how important IDES support was to empower us to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and for me personally to build a stronger relationship with my co laborers," our partner said.
Let us continue to support our family in Christ around the world as we reach out together to share the Good News. And, let us pray Psalm 46:9-10 in hope of the horrible conflict to end soon in South Sudan.