South Sudanese church leaders offer peace as Easter gift to their people

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

23 April 2019

* By Fredrick Nzwili

As Christians worldwide prepare to mark Easter weekend, South Sudanese church leaders have offered peace as a gift to the people, who have experienced great suffering and trials by violence and conflicts.

While reminding the citizens that peace was a gift Jesus ultimately gave to his disciples, the leaders stressed that this is the first commitment that the South Sudanese must pursue.

“Peace is a fundamental condition for ensuring the rights of each individual and the integral development of an entire people. Jesus Christ…gave us the model to follow,” said the church leaders in an Easter message delivered under the South Sudan Council of Churches.

The ecumenical body unites the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Africa Inland, Sudan Pentecostal, South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical and Sudan Interior Churches. The Christian Brotherhood Church and the Sudan Reformed Church are affiliate members.

The church leaders’ message followed an ecumenical spiritual and diplomatic retreat on peace in South Sudan at the Vatican, which was led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

The leaders who attended the retreat later said it provided a powerful push for the implementation of the Revitalised Peace Agreement.

The South Sudan Church leaders see the agreement as a vow to God.

“We are saying that peace is good, reconciliation is possible and unity is better,” said the leaders.

Since December 2013 when the conflict broke out, over 4 million people have fled their homes, nearly 2.5 million taking refuge in neighbouring countries. About 200,000 are living six United Nations civilian protection sites spread across the country. Agencies say nearly 7 million out of a population of 12 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. The war has brought down the country’s economy, with insecurity making it difficult for the people to grow food on farms. Church and church centres have been attacked with priest and pastors being killed.

 

*Fredrick Nzwili is an independent journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya