pray for the church and for FOCUS to be faithful in the work of the gospel
When South Sudan gained independence from Sudan we were cautiously optimistic about the future of student ministry in these two countries. Recent tensions, however, have led to a very difficult situation, not only for IFES ministry but for all Christians.
Sudan, the northern country, set a deadline of 8 April for all South Sudanese to 'regularise' their resident status as foreigners. Many, however, did not have papers to identify themselves as South Sudanese and were unable to obtain them, nor did they have money to travel to South Sudan.
We heard recently from George, a South Sudanese Associate Regional Secretary for English- and Portuguese-Speaking Africa living in Sudan.
‘FOCUS Sudan is facing a big challenge. There are currently four staff in Sudan: one full-time staff worker and person with Short Term Experience in Ministry (STEM) who are both north Sudanese and two full-time staff workers who are South Sudanese. The South Sudanese staff may not continue because they may need a resident permit, which is not easy to get. Financial support is another challenge. Most of the graduates supporting the work have gone to South Sudan and all transfer of money between south and north is blocked.’
Daylen Scopas is a graduate of FOCUS Sudan and one of the two South Sudanese staff workers in the north. She wrote to us about the situation they are facing. ‘In one of our campuses the university administration dismissed 130 Southern students and gave them one hour to leave the campus and one week to leave the country. Please pray for those students that God will give them comfort, because psychologically they are completely discouraged and worried about their future.
‘On another campus the Southern Student Association’s office was burned. More investigation is underway. Pray for divine protection and that God will give our students the patience and wisdom to know how to handle this tension.
‘In general, students are afraid to attend campus and are missing their lectures which will affect their attendance record and exams. Pray that God will give the lecturers mercy towards those students.
‘We are trying hard to get the residency permit which is required by the authorities here but the process is not easy and time is not in our side. Pray that God will open ways for us to get it soon.’
Because of these difficulties, South Sudanese students were unable to travel to attend a recent FOCUS leadership training course.
The church in Sudan is also suffering, as Christian schools and churches that are perceived to be South Sudanese are being burned.
George concludes, ‘Please pray that the leadership of Sudan and South Sudan will be able to resolve the outstanding issues very soon and avoid war. Pray for protection for civilians, and for the church and for FOCUS to be faithful in the work of the gospel and united as the body of Christ. Pray too that I might soon be able to rejoin my family in South Sudan.’
These events of course have implications for the student movement in South Sudan. We hope to report soon on what is happening there.