Our sisters and brothers in South Sudan urgently need our prayers and advocacy. Last week, renewed fighting erupted, dramatically compounding a humanitarian crisis that has been deepening ever since the collapse of the August 2015 peace accord. As South Sudanese government forces and rebel groups clashed in Yei and Unity State, civilian populations have been targeted along ethnic lines. On Friday, November 18, Ambassador Samantha Power, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, told the UN Security Council “all the ingredients exist for the already horrific violence [in South Sudan] to escalate dramatically,” warning that ethnic conflict raised the potential for genocide.
The Rt. Reverend Peter Gai, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan and Chair of the South Sudan Council of Churches, confirmed that the resurgent violence contains seeds of potential genocide. He appealed to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to pray for the situation. Rev. Gai warned, “Genocide is imminent. It has not happened yet, but it can at any time. The guns have not kept silent. People are disappearing in Yei and Juba. Nobody is controlling anybody. Soldiers on both [government and opposition] sides are not under control. The word genocide can become real at any time. We need your prayers for it not to happen.” Rev. Gai also expressed appreciation for the way in which the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has stood behind the Church in South Sudan through this crisis. He gave thanks for the accompaniment of our mission personnel, as well as for our prayers and advocacy.
We ask all members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to join our brothers and sisters in South Sudan in praying for an end to the violence, respect for the human rights of civilians, and the establishment of a just peace. We would invite you to use the following prayer or to develop your own:
God of Peace and Justice –
To whom can we turn but you as we hear the news that genocide is imminent in South Sudan? We give thanks that you have created us as unique individuals, people who share a wonderful variety of languages, cultures, and ethnicities. Our hearts are breaking as we learn that some of our sisters and brothers are being killed just for being the persons you created them to be — Dinka, Bari, Nuer. Lord, we thank you for your Church, which is standing courageously for peace and justice in the midst of these atrocities, meeting with different factions “in the bush,” and putting the lives of your people before their own safety. We thank you for the Presbyterian women who are bravely marching in the streets to demand an end to the killing and crossing ethnic boundaries to work for peace. And we thank you for our Presbyterian mission co-workers who have sacrificed much to accompany them on this journey. Protect them all, oh Lord.
Gracious God, we also ask you to provide our church and ecumenical partners with the guidance, strength, and courage to continue to speak truth to power, to build bridges of reconciliation, and to stand against all violations of civil rights. Pour out your Spirit, Lord, on the leaders of South Sudan, that they might be moved to lay down their arms and breathe new life into peace efforts. We are thankful that you walk with your people through the valley of the shadow of death, comforting all who are in hiding, who fear for their lives, or who mourn the loss of loved ones. Help us to faithfully support our partners’ peacebuilding efforts, to pray and advocate on their behalf, and to learn from their brave witness as we face increasing attacks on the dignity of people in our own country.
In the name of the Prince of Peace we pray.