South Sudan at 7 Years Old

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By Mark Walker, Senior Pastor, Seaside Vineyard in Beaufort, SC
Vineyard Missions Coordinator for Learning Community-Training / Romania Partnership Leader

South Sudan found its name and independence in 2011. Freedom of any kind is a sense of hope and promise, but the world’s newest country is also one of its least developed - anywhere you look. There are no precise population figures, but in 2014, the World Bank estimated there were 11.91 million South Sudanese, four in ten of them aged 14 or younger. Whether you are a child or a nation, age 7 to 8 is usually a time of rapid growth and development. But South Sudan, as beautiful as her people are, is faced with stunting restrictions.

But not with the Good News of The Kingdom

South Sudan is overwhelmingly rural, with petroleum as their only export industry. Nine in 10 households depend on crop farming, livestock, fishing, or forestry. But productivity across these sectors is minimal; food insecurity is persistent, and it is exacerbated by conflict and economic crisis. There’s also a non-existent freedom of movement and livelihood.

But not with the Good News of The Kingdom

Fighting erupted in December 2013 and spread rapidly from the capital city of Juba. It has caused pain and fear and shortages of all things imaginable. Sporadic renewals of differences and suspicions have kept real peace and stability at bay. A peace deal was signed in August 2015, but three years later is still not entirely implemented. The conflict has uprooted more than 2.3 million people; nearly 1.7 million have been displaced internally, with neighboring countries hosting some 650,000 refugees.

But it hasn’t hindered the Good News of The Kingdom

Plunging oil prices and revenues have increased poverty and vulnerability, particularly in South Sudan’s towns. Pockets of low rainfall have reduced agricultural yields and caused crops to fail in many, many places. Low food yield, coupled with a strained economy, has kept food prices high and further weakened food security.

But it hasn’t hindered the Good News of The Kingdom

South Sudan remains one of the world’s toughest ministry environments, where shrinking humanitarian access and a general lack of everything are challenging efforts to meet escalating needs. The local currency is constantly dropping through its all-time low numbers while hyperinflation touches everyday like stars touch every dark night. And it is dark every night.  Electric power was discontinued countrywide in August of 2012.

But it’s not hindering the Good News of The Kingdom

There are a handful of Vineyard churches here in the U.S. who have cleared rocks, plowed fields, planted and watered “in a Kingdom way” so to speak. They have done this since before the first church took root in 2009. Despite soldiers’ attempts to destroy anything built and total disruption of normality, this church has remained and is thriving - not only thriving, but birthing. There are churches now. They are healthy and vibrant. And there are more coming. Unfortunately, we can’t share the details because it can be quite sensitive – both to them and to our going and coming so frequently. South Sudan at seven years old is a tough place.

But it won’t hinder the Good News of The Kingdom

We invite you to join our team. And you will discover along with us, there’s so much in South Sudan. Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

You can receive an invite to a look-see trip or get more info thru the VineyardMissions.org site or contact South Sudan Partnership Leader Thor Colberg: thorsencolberg@me.com.