This week, I had planned to be with the children at our Good Shepherd Home in the town of Wau in South Sudan. I was looking forward to connecting again with the 25 children at the Home, all of whom have been rescued from a life on Wau’s dangerous streets. They were making plans for a picnic, a game of soccer, to be followed by my joining them for worship and hearing how God is working in their lives.
Instead, while I am indeed in South Sudan, I am not in Wau. My flight from the capital city, Juba, was cancelled following another devastating outbreak of tribal-related violence in Wau.
While official estimates say that 40 people have been killed in violent gun battles between government troops and rebel groups, the real number of deaths is likely to be far higher. Thousands of people have fled their homes, many to the sanctuary of a UN base, and others into the nearby countryside. Homes and businesses have been looted; food and medical supplies are scarce. The mood in the town is ugly.
Today I met with Francis, our South Sudan Director, in Juba. “It is a terrible situation,” he told me. “There are dead bodies lying in the streets of Wau. Everyone stays awake at night, afraid of the next attack. Fear is everywhere.”
I am thankful that Kids Alive’s children and staff in Wau are safe. God has protected them and our ministry site, although the sound of gunfire has often been close. And Francis tells me of the faith that he sees in the lives of the kids, even in these most difficult of circumstances: “God’s presence is very real and gives us hope. Our kids are committing their lives to him and their trust in Him is growing. We know that these young people can make a change for good in this country.”
I won’t get as far as Wau on this trip, but I hope to be there soon for that picnic and soccer game! In the meantime, I am praying for this troubled nation and our critical ministry in Wau. Please join me in praying for:
- A commitment from South Sudan’s leaders to seek a positive way forward through dialogue and negotiation rather than through violent means. Pray that a fair and lasting solution to the current crisis in Wau, and throughout South Sudan, would quickly be found.
- Local Christian leaders, pastors, and churches in South Sudan as they seek to minister to and care for those that are afraid and vulnerable.
- International organizations as they seek to meet the needs of the poor. Pray that, despite the violence and poor infrastructure in the country, essential aid – particularly food and medicines – would get to those who require it most.
- The work of Kids Alive – for the ongoing safety of our children and staff, for our children’s faith to continue to grow, and that we would be able to continue with our plans to expand our work to care for more orphans and vulnerable children in South Sudan.