January 24, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The situation in South Sudan continues to be quite fragile, however on a positive note, I just received word that a ceasefire agreement was signed yesterday (January 23rd) in Addis Ababa. Let us pray that it is soon honored throughout all of South Sudan and the fighting stops. Unfortunately, there is a history of mistrust and rivalry between the two warring tribes, the Dinka and the Nuer. Time will tell if they are willing to let go of the past and work for true and lasting peace.
By the grace of God, Maridi has been spared thus far from the recent violence, however, Bishop Justin and the Church in Maridi are faced with a huge number of displaced people from the surrounding areas coming there for food, shelter and safety. Even with the just-announced ceasefire, large numbers of refugees are expected to continue coming until true peace is established and people are able to return to their homes. The following is an excerpt from two of the most recent communiqués I have received from Bishop Justin:
"We have started the new year with insecurity and up to now the situation is not good. There is constant fighting with great destruction of lives and properties in Juba and the three states of Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity State. There is constant defection of the Army to join the rebel group. There is much evidence of tribal rivalry between the Dinka supporting President Kiir and the Nuer tribe supporting Riack Machar who has rebelled...We are all okay here in Maridi. The number of displaced people continues to increase gradually. So far we have 167 families who have reached Maridi and 29 widows whose husbands were killed on the way. There are now a total of 1,336 displaced people in Maridi...So far more than 10,000 people are estimated to have died and over 200,000 people displaced. Fighting is still going on despite the many calls from the international communities for cease fire. Our worries are now about the roads from Yei to Juba and from Juba to Maridi which is becoming unsafe."
Our sisters and brothers in Maridi need our help. First and foremost, they need our prayers. Bishop Justin has asked us to pray that Maridi and western Equatoria would be protected from the violence in the surrounding states and that there will be a political solution to the current situation and that peace will prevail, bringing an end to all the suffering and fighting. He has also asked us to pray that the Church will continue to be strong, providing comfort and encouragement for those seeking refuge and preaching a message of peace and reconciliation to all the people, especially the Dinka and Nuer tribes. Bishop Justin stated, "We very much value your prayers for us and thank you." It is my sincere hope that each of us will be faithful in holding Bishop Justin, the Diocese of Maridi, and all the people of South Sudan up in our daily and corporate prayers.
In addition to our prayers, Bishop Justin and the people of Maridi are in desperate need of our financial assistance to help them in their efforts to feed, shelter and minister to the ever-growing number of refugees and displaced people arriving in Maridi each day. The following is a list of the specific items Bishop Justin intends to provide each of the refugee families:
In an effort to assist our Sister Diocese of Maridi as they serve as a channel of God's love, mercy and healing grace, striving to meet the overwhelming needs of the growing number of refugees, I am asking every parish church in the Diocese of Albany to prayerfully consider sending in a gift of $100 (or more if possible), to the Diocesan Business Office, 580 Burton Rd., Greenwich, NY 12834, by Wednesday, February 5th. (Please make checks payable to the Episcopal Diocese of Albany and put "Maridi Relief" in the memo line. Donations can also be made online by credit card through our secure system by clicking here). In so doing we will be able to send a gift of over $10,000 to Maridi to assist them in this great time of need. Every dollar raised will be sent to Maridi.
Thank you for your prayers and generous financial support. You will be a blessing and encouragement to Bishop Justin and the people of Maridi and all those they have been called to serve.
Faithfully Your Brother in Christ,
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