Food seems to disappear before the needy have enough. Education becomes a luxury that most cannot afford. Health care takes a back seat to survival and inhabitants dream not about the grand and glorious possibilities of the future, but rather think only of the next day and how to survive it.
This was true in World War II Germany. True during the genocide in Rwanda. True after Hurricane Katrina hit the southern U.S. But as people move beyond their history, they find that so much needs to be built, or rebuilt, and often, the task seems very great indeed.
Sudan gained independence in 1956, after having been controlled by a number of powerful dynasties. Two lengthy periods of civil war (a period of about 10 years of peace were had in the 1970s) followed as the country tried to find its own identity and place in the world. In 2005, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was reached, and peace slowly came to the people. The region which had been called the “Southern Sudan Autonomous Region” voted in January of this year for formal independence, and was granted their freedom on 9 July 2011.
South Sudan has made great strides as a country to reconcile the land and bring about peace. The country has joined the United Nations and elected a president and National Legislature. However, the health situation is one of the worst, claiming the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.
The economy of South Sudan is also one of the weakest, depending heavily on agriculture. Agriculture poses some unique challenges in this area, though. South Sudan is part of the Horn of Africa, which is currently experiencing the worst drought and food shortage crisis in the world. In northeastern South Sudan, in a town called Malakal, leaders in the Church of the Nazarene were invited by Nazarene Compassionate Ministries to participate in agricultural training as part of continuing efforts to help relieve the devastations in the area, as well as share Jesus with local people.
These leaders, who are well versed in effective church planting strategies, came from different parts of the country. For some, the trip was very difficult. Of the 18 leaders, many had to travel two days on land before embarking on the four or five day boat trip on the Nile River.
“By the grace of God, all the leaders made it successfully to the training center,” said John Yual Nguth, South Sudan mission coordinator.
The Nasser Community Development Association, an indigenous non-governmental organization, sent a trainer with a wide knowledge of agriculture. The training session focused on alternative irrigation methods.
South Sudan boasts more than half a dozen different ecoregions, each of which presents a unique challenge to the local farmer growing self-supporting crops. The many different regional challenges, coupled with the wide-spread drought, have led to a great need for the knowledge being handed out by the trainer.
“Some seeds were distributed to our leaders in the training, but there was not enough available [for everyone],” Nguth said. “The training was received well and our leaders went back to their homes charged with the task of training others in their churches. There is a great need for alternative irrigation methods in our area.”
As attention is focused on the growing food-shortage crisis in the Horn of Africa (which South Sudan is a part of), this is just one method Nazarene Compassionate Ministries and the church are using to extend Jesus’ love and compassion to this region and meet people ‘where they are’.
–Church of the Nazarene Africa