At first there was hope. Decades of civil war started to wind down and in January 2011 voters in the southern part of Sudan passed a referendum to secede from the north.
Then there was joy. Citizens flooded the streets on July 9, 2011, to celebrate their new nation’s independence.
Now there is concern and some fear as the Republic of South Sudan faces a new set of challenges. Conflicts in disputed border regions could erupt into war at any time; the nation is facing economic difficulties after shutting down its oil production; and refugees from the north are streaming into the south. Those fleeing the violence are traveling on foot, without food or water, and people are dying along the way.
But under the leadership of Franklin Graham, teams from Samaritan’s Purse are providing emergency relief to the refugees—including food, clean water, medical care, temporary shelter and trauma counseling.
SP staff report that the people arriving at South Sudan’s refugee camps are in worse physical shape than before. They have run out of food—many are eating bugs and leaves—as predictions of mass starvation have become reality.
In the midst of such desolation, people are hungering for more than food—they are starving for the Word of God. So on Oct. 26-27, Franklin Graham will share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of South Sudan.
The “Hope for a New Nation” Festival—a partnership between BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse–will help lay a strong spiritual foundation as the world’s newest country faces spiritual, economic, social and political challenges.
“The war conditions, the repatriating of literally millions of citizens, a devastated economy, and charges of corruption all factor into the timing of the Festival in Juba,” said Festival Director Hans Mannegren. “No one can escape the reality of the mounting day-to-day pressures. People are turning to alcohol, drugs, sex, many forms of physical abuse and suicide to escape. They are desperate for Good News and hope.”
Mannegren pointed out that during this critical time in South Sudan’s history, it is crucial for the nation to build a strong spiritual foundation on the rock of Jesus Christ—”a foundation that will weather future storms, yet remain firm.”
Existing Spiritual Groundwork
As they prepare for the Festival, the staff in South Sudan won’t have to build that foundation from thin air. “Once the war was concluded in 2005 by the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Franklin committed to rebuilding churches that were specifically targeted and destroyed during the war,” said Mannegren. “Consequently, about 500 churches were rebuilt across Southern Sudan.”
Additionally, in 2007 and 2009, BGEA conducted My Hope evangelistic outreaches across Sudan, reaching into the furthest corners of the country with the hope of the Gospel.
“This rich history led to an invitation by the South Sudan Council of Churches for Franklin to conduct a Festival in the capital city of Juba,” Mannegren explained.
“Franklin has been a voice to the voiceless for many years,” said Bishop James Lagos Alexander, national coordinator for the Festival. “He has been crying with us, and he feels our pain and our sorrows. And not only that, he travels into the dangerous places where our people suffer. So the churches and leaders say, ‘This is the right man to partner with. And he’s not only a partner; he’s a brother and a friend to the South Sudanese.'”
Anticipation is growing in the more than 300 churches united in this effort. For many pastors, the Hope for a New Nation Festival will be the first time they have worked together in a national evangelistic outreach.
Festival team members currently working in Juba are seeing God unite believers across denominational lines on a weekly basis. Christian Life and Witness classes are being held in 20 churches across the city: “Attendance is growing and enthusiasm is building,” said Mannegren.
The Prayer Committee has called Christians across the city to join an all-night prayer meeting every third Friday of each month, praying for the nation and for the outreach of the Festival.
“Without a doubt,” said Mannegren, “we all believe that ‘unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain.’
“We are praying that God would pour out His Holy Spirit across this land and that revival would break out,” Mannegren added. “We pray this revival will result in the changed lives of men and women, boys and girls, marking this nation as one nation under God.”
Will You Pray?
• For God to unite the hearts of believers across South Sudan with a vision to reach out to unsaved family and friends.
• That people would see the hand of God move in such a way that it would remind them of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John, “Apart from me you can do nothing…”
• That security issues will not hinder people from coming to the Festival.
Help Us Bring the Gospel to a Hurting Nation
The South Sudanese are starving for the hope of the Gospel. You can help bring them the love of Christ by donating online today.