When South Sudan celebrates its first anniversary as Africa’s youngest nation on July 9th , the role South Africa played in mediating the settlement will no doubt be fondly remembered. Beyond our political intervention in the Sudanese conflict, we continue to accompany this nation in other ways, some less honourable than others. When the South Sudanese toast to their first anniversary, it will be our multinational corporate giant, SABMiller who charges their glasses. SABMiller will have been helping the Sudanese get drunk for three years, come July 9th this year. History will record that this is one of the ways in which we helped them find their feet among the community of nations.
Thankfully, there is another story of our involvement as South Africans. Our missionaries have been serving in Sudan – both north and south for decades. Many have risked life and limb during the decades long civil war that raged in that country – bringing the good news of the Kingdom. This was given further impetus by another development. In October 2010, 5000 mission and church leaders from around the world converged in Cape Town for the 4th Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation. Among the hundreds of side meetings
that took place during congress, about 50 South African church and mission leaders gathered to hear Dr Celestine Masekura, general secretary of Sudan Evangelical Alliance make a plea for solidarity with the people of South Sudan. How, asked Celesitine, could the continent ‘s strongest economy, with a materially well resourced Church, look on without lifting a finger to assist a nation coming out of such social, political and military turmoil as South Sudan?
South African Church and mission leaders present accepted the challenge, and mandated TEASA to lead a delegation to South Sudan in order to explore what mission and solidarity possibilities exist. A TEASA – SACC delegation consisting of Rev Trevor Ntlhola, ( Vineyard Churches), Rev Moss Ntlha, ( General Secretary of The evangelical Alliance of South Africa), Rev Henrick Pillay ( United Congregational Church of Southern Africa), Mrs Lydia Cindi, Rev Frank Chikane (AFM) and Rev Mautji Pataki (SACC) prepared to go. In the end, due to unforeseen circumstances, only Rev Trevor Ntlhola, Rev Moss Ntlha, Rev Henrik Pillay and Mrs Lydia Cindi managed to go.
TEASA - SACC delegation at briefing on political situation in Sudan
“Help us reach the unreached in our nation and the Arab world.”
The delegation met several Church and mission leaders in Southern Sudan and came away heartened by the resilience of the churches and yet appreciative of their needs and challenges. South Sudanese Church leaders expressed the need for assistance in spreading the gospel in South Sudan. Theological education for the development of pastors and ministers is needed. Radio was seen as a possible means to spread the gospel and assistance was needed to achieve this, as are schools where professional teaching personnel would be welcome. Christian literature, short term training and bibles are needed.
Rev Trevor Ntlhola and Mrs Lydia Cindi meeting South Sudan mission leaders
Upon return, the delegation compiled a report and shared it with Church leaders in SACC and TEASA. A continuation committee convened by Rev Trevor Ntlhola is facilitating follow up processes.
How we can pray
Prayer request by South Sudanese church leaders and Christians to churches in South Africa.
- That the churches in South Sudan will in themselves be healed from tribal tendencies and brokenness, that in turn they will be an instrument of healing and peace building in the community.
- Spiritual revival and unity among churches, so that the churches may be equal to the task facing them in reconciliation, evangelism, discipleship transformation and development.
- To work for the end of corruption in Sudanese society.
- Peace and good neighbourliness between North and South Sudan.
Article submitted by Moss Ntlha