In May in the city of Goli in South Sudan, a Christian college that has trained thousands endured a deadly attack from a section of the country’s presidential guard from Tore. The soldiers stayed for 12 hours around the complex of Emmanel Christian College (ECC), wreaking deadly terror. A few days later, the soldiers returned and stayed for another three days.
In the aftermath, believers are reeling. Open Doors management staff have been to South Sudan to support the local staff as they work with the government and the military following the attack and to offer emotional support as victims come to terms with the horrific attack. ECC is set up by Open Doors in partnership with the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in 2001. Since predominantly Christian South Sudan gained its independence from the Islamic Republic of Sudan in the north in 2011, Open Doors has been gradually withdrawing from the world’s newest country and had handed over ownership of ECC to the local church.
Our teams have shared specifics about the attacks, including the names of the victims, and have asked us to pray specifically with families and school leaders in South Sudan.
On May 14, 2018, around 7:30 am, soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army entered the college and began breaking doors and windows, forcing their way into houses and looting the compound. The SPLA is the main force that formerly fought Africa’s longest-running civil war for independence from Sudan in the north.
Two of the soldiers raped a 14-year-old daughter of a staff member and student of the college’s primary school while her father was organizing food for the soldiers.
At around 7 pm that day, the soldiers started to leave the compound. Before returning to Tore, they gathered at Goli primary school (just outside the college compound) and starting shooting guns in the air. By the time they had left, they had killed five school children, three staff members and two people displaced from the Mundri area.
A few days later, the soldiers returned to Emmanuel Christian College and stayed for another three days. They raped another 14-year-old girl, an orphan who lost her mother last year.
Resilience, Trust in God and Continued Vision
Both the state governor and the military have launched an investigation and produced reports, but neither has been released. The governor has also visited the site.
“We have been much impressed in the past by the courage and willingness of our friends in South Sudan to continue living out the love of Christ in the face of severe difficulties,” said ECC founding member and board member George William. “We remain impressed and encouraged by their resilience, trust in God and continued vision to not give in to the terrible pressures against them. We thank all who have been praying for the situation there and ask that you do not give up.”
The perseverance of Emmanuel Christian College to continue to operate is deliberate.
“As an institution, we have been asked several times how we managed to operate in [the continued instability]. Our story is unique. It is a story of survival, sacrifice and commitment to the services of the people of South Sudan,” says the college’s principal. ” …We have been attacked, looted and even threatened with death, but we stood our position as a people-serving institution with no political agenda, and that will not change. Education plays a major role in the development of a nation, and our vision is to transform people through academic excellence, rooted in the Word and glorifying God. The college wants to continue to enhance unity by making education accessible to all churches, people and tribes.”
Pray with all the families who lost loved ones in the attacks. Pray for the families of:
- Oliver Batalli (displaced person from Mundri)
- Mr. Gizza killed in his home.
- Martin Likama (ECC guard) and his son, Michael, an ECC student
- Michael Malis Enock (student, senior)
- David Nguanima Tito (12-year-old son of ECC terrain manager, 12)
- Elisha Batalli (ECC guard)
- Lawrence Samson (displaced man) and his sons, Awilo Samson and Rogie Juma
All victims were later buried on site.
Please continue to pray for those recovering from the May 14 and May attacks.
- The government has pleaded with ECC to not suspend activities, promising protection. While the clinic Open Doors is supporting is continuing services, Emmanuel Christian College will be closed for holidays until the end of August. Pray that there will be sufficient protection and that the school will be able to open again.
- All ECC staff are now on holiday. Pray that God would surround them in His comfort as they take well- deserved rest and come to terms with the terrible events.
- Pray for physical and emotional healing for the girls who were raped.
- When staff return in August, the college will begin a trauma care program. Please pray that the Lord will use this program to minister healing.
- Pray for wisdom and protection for college staff as they interact with the government following the attack.
- Pray that the perseverance of ECC to continue classes will be a source of great encouragement and will continue to offer an example to people fighting a war that often has ethnic dimensions.
- Pray for justice to be done.
- Pray for the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who perpetrated the acts of violence–that they would come to see their need for the salvation Christ alone offers.
Open Doors and the Sudan Presbyterian Open Doors launched small scale theological training in South Sudan in 1996, at the height of the nation’s civil war, and since then has trained thousands of Christian leaders in the country.
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