South Sudan in Turmoil
Less than three years after South Sudan voted for independence, a power struggle is rocking the world’s youngest nation, resulting in extensive fighting since Dec 15. According to Al-Jazeera, the conflict between forces loyal to South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, and a coalition of army defectors and ethnic militia loyal to Riek Machar, has already left at least 1,000 dead and 400,000 displaced. Most of the fighting has been concentrated around the oil-rich border areas. The rebels took the cities of Bentiu and Bor, but the government took back Bentiu earlier this month while continuing a campaign for Bor. Fighting remains fierce throughout the region. Meanwhile, peace talks in Addis Ababa seem to be stalling, though efforts to arrange a cease-fire agreement by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional bloc are continuing. Donald Booth, US special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, reportedly met with Riek Machar over the Jan 11-12 weekend and with Salva Kiir the following Monday. So far Open Door’s Emmanuel Christian College in Goli has not been directly touched by the violence. However, we expect that many of the students from northern affected areas will be unable to make it for the start of the new term. The local team is doing all they can to arrange for the students’ safe passage to the center. Father, we lift up this new nation, the Republic of South Sudan, who as a people set out to make their nation one that brings honor to You. As they now face internal conflict among the political forces, we pray for the negotiation process that soon there will be peace and reconciliation. As we consider these people who not so long ago suffered unthinkable atrocities from their countrymen to the north, we pray Your grace to be a soothing balm to heal the trauma of this new conflict. Protect innocent lives caught in the crossfire. We thank You for the many Christians who serve You there, and pray Your protection over them. Grant wisdom and discernment to church leaders as they guide Your people through this trying time. We pray for the students enrolled in Emmanuel Christian College, that You might provide safe travels for those who are still on the road. As they are trained up, use them, Lord to be ministers of reconciliation among the variety of ethnic groups they represent. In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Amen.