Update of the situation...
The Jonglei peace initiative was intended to be of utmost importance and absolutely urgent.
Unfortunately, we were not able to take the needed action since we first appealed. This is due to lack of funds and so many people have died since then. First the attack on Akobo East that killed 302 with 200 wounded was in March. Those who died in the hospitals are not even counted.
The government then went to Lou Nuer area and fired at innocent pepple killing a man, a woman and a child. These are my people who were disarmed more than three times and are now disarmed while the Murle keep their arms though the government said it is disarming them. After the Nyirol County community members gave their arms to the government of South Sudan, the Murle came killing three peple and took 3,000 head of cattle.
The Republic of South Sudan now is not able to protect my community, therefore, prayers are needed. Please read the following appeal that was intended for our churches and sent to Rev. Ross Blount pastor for First Presbyterian Church in Allerton:
March 15, 2012
Des Moines, Iowa
This letter is really like an appeal and is just a short explanation of what we will hope to accomplish or achieve if we go to South Sudan. Four members of my peace initiative will be travelling, if we can. As a chair person, I would like to travel as soon as April 25, 2012.
There was a meeting held in Washington, D.C., January 21-22, 2012. The meeting was held by the Jonglei Peace initiative (JPI) a body organized here in the US, for Jonglei State in South Sudan. This was welcomed and was founded as the 193rd nation by the United Nations (UN). Jonglei is about the size of Iowa and is the largest state in the new country and it has only 11 Counties.
Before that meeting, the Lou Nuer community pastors in U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe held a phone conference in which I was elected as chairman for peace in Jonglei for the purpose of bringing the two communities of Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic group pastors to discuss how peace can be achieved. The attacks and counter attacks by both sides prompted this peace initiative.
The Washington, D.C. meeting then reaffirmed the elected position for me to be the overall spiritual dhairman for the whole of peace initiative in Jonglei State from the diaspora groups for all the six ethnic groups: Nuer, Murle, Dingka, Anyuak, Kachipo and Jie. In the meeting it was decided that JPI will have three fronts: youth, community and the spiritual groups to tackle peace.
This document came as a result of my discussion with my friend, Rev. Ross Blount, today (3/16/12), who wanted to know what it would take to get there and encouraged me to write this request.
The purpose is, therefore, to bring peace to whole Jonglei region, the largest state in the Republic of South Sudan. Jonglei is inhabited by those six ethnic groups. What we hope to achieve is a comprehensive peace in the state and the rest of South Sudan. Jonglei was the one that started the war in 1983 and may be the last to have peace, it seems. But the accomplishment of peace in this region will have significant impact in the whole country and may be replicated later. But I must say that this state started the war as far back as 1975 when there was mutiny in Akobo. That came shortly after the 17-year war that ended in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where I was a student in high school in 1972. At that time, it would not take time before the fully blown war began in May 16, 1983, in what is now Bor City, the current capital of the state.
Let me explain how we view this peace initiative.
I take this personally, as my uncle and ten members of his family were murdered by the Murle in August 2011, killing 800 people – mainly women and children. This was followed by a retaliatory attack by the Lou youth in Pibor, the main town in the Murles area in January, killing 150 people – mostly women and children. Just last week the Murles attacked Akobo County and killed 1,000 and 1,500 people - mostly women and children.
The reason why I want to be involved is because I feel I have something to offer for the peace initiative. Forgiveness is my motive for any of those Murles who killed my Uncle Bangot Dhuon, his wife and 10 members of his family. There would be no peace without forgiveness and someone must offer this. No outsider can offer that, no matter how skillful that person may be in negotiations and no money can stop the anger of people. We want to work hard to stop revengeful people from controlling the situation. That is why it is crucial to take my word seriously. I can convince a Murle that even though he has killed my people, I am here to end this vicious circle. He will have no reason to doubt. And in the same way, I can convince my own people, who will want revenge and will try to say I am a coward and not able get revenge.It makes more sense that I am the one to convince my people and not the government leaders, most of which did not lose anyone. This is a unique position and God might want me to be here at this time. I do not want to let the time pass by while watching innocent ones being victimized on both sides.
How would we do this? That is going to be our next question. Though it has been mentioned that it is important to have local people involved in the peacemaking, we have to remember that many people have already been involved but no one yet challenged the fighters in a peaceful manner. The government disarmed them by force before and even if you hear that they do the same now, this did not work in the past. Therefore peace is the long-term solution. We now appreciate the government's positive attitude in a peaceful disarmament like it has been done successfully elsewhere, as in West Africa.
Some of the churches and government leaders involved, will remember much money was spent by individuals and organizations who are genuine in their efforts. But, I have to say that some organizations did not really involve the local people or the key people (youth fighters) who could have done a better job in stopping the killings.
We will join their efforts so that we will not regret later that we did not try our best. The peace we speak about is both short and long term. This is an important component of this not to be missed in the planning process. I have community development training gained in Canada in 1986. We should be sure the community claim this as their own, not as something coming from elsewhere which may generate wrong and high expectations.
We will support any peace initiative already existing such as RECONCILE, one of the nonprofit organizations initiated by some of the Presbyterian Church missionaries. This was very good and they say they train people there and I know this to be true. They also have taken Murle women and sent them to the Akobo Lou Nuer area and vice versa. This was working as long as their youth did not start hostilities. This was not implemented by the local people, but a project intended to reduce trauma after the war. It cannot stop any war among the young people who raid cattle as a means of their living.
Women also never initiated any wars in the region so the absence of men in the project was one of its weaknesses. The peace initiative has to be implemented by indigenous people to succeed and youth need to be part of it. They need to be persuaded by people like us who do not want revenge for our dead relatives.
This is urgently needed given the recent hostilities between the Lou Nuer and Murle which indicated that something else needs to be done in a different method. The definition of insanity is “doing one thing over and over, but achieving the same results.” I think it was Albert Einstein who said this.
We should go and work together with them and get the key community leaders involved to stop the killings so children can be sent to school and without any worries of cattle raids. Remember that we called the Lou youth back from the Murle area and they listened to us. In the same way if we go they will listen to us.
When I spoke with Ross, I mentioned to him that we wanted to send a team of four people on our side and we also have a Murle who is from Tennessee. James is his name and he may go with us and we can get other Murle community members in Juba, South Sudan.
We need the youth to be helped to engage in doing something useful and grow into responsible leaders, if we successful.
Please remember, Jesus said (Matthew 5:8-9), “Happy are the pure in heart; They will see God! Happy are those who work for peace, God will call them his children!” (Good News Bible).
Please support this wholeheartedly and be part of it, so that you will to be able to come and visit my area in the future. I thank God for your prayers and efforts.
God blessings be with you.
Sudanese Ministries Resource Person,
Presbytery of Des Moines
Khadamat Sudaniya is the Presbytery of Des Moines' Sudanese Ministries Task Force. The group meets monthly at the Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, to develop ways to support Sudanese ministries in the Presbytery.
Rev. Goanar Chol, Presbyterian pastor, is a member of the Des Moines Presbytery staff. Visit Sudanese Ministries Resource Person Rev. Goanar Chol's Sudanese Ministries blog for more information.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,
In 1999, the two presbyteries Des Moines and , brought my family: Batul, Esther, Lam and Lieb, all of the Chols here to serve the Sudanese in the two presbyteries. We thank God. With your prayers, the Republic of South Sudan was born as an independent nation in July 9, 2011, and with your financial support we are still working in the Presbytery of Des Moines today. But, what I am sharing with you is heartbreaking, to say the least. My ethnic tribe, the Nath (Nuer) and the Murle tribes have been involved in violence perpetuated by the Khartoum government. In August 2011, 800 were killed, including my 80-year-old uncle, his wife and 10 members of his family. I took the initiative, to hold a memorial service at Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church in November, with two other Presbyterian lay-commissioned pastors, Michael Kuach and Jacob Tut Liech. We were joined by other denominational pastors in the area.
On January 20-24, 2012, we were invited to speak at the Jonglei Peace Initiative in Washington, D.C., and I was elected to take our peace initiative to the State of Jonglei in the Republic of South Sudan, and lead pastors of all the denominations in Diaspora. I was actually elected by the pastors of my ethnic group in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia to help stop the violence. The youth on both sides rejected mediation from South Sudan Government, but said they would accept the mediation from Diaspora because they believe we are neutral. We pledge to take the mission for not less than six months, due to lack of means of transportation in the area and the insecurity for the leaders of fighting groups to be brought to negotiating locations.
In 2006, the South Sudan Water Project for Peace and Development was organized in Omaha, Neb., as a 501(c)3 organization to help gather donations for wells in Sudan. In the short- and long-term, the displaced Sudanese will need water where they are relocated and a safe place to stay. We believe these funds could help when I travel to Sudan on this mission of peace.
A team of seven people, which I will lead, may leave as early as February 15th to March 15th if the funds (approximately $45,000) are available. If we are able, we will stay in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. We will have to fly in church leaders in hopes of negotiating peace. Also, we’ll need to fly in the young people who need to agree to stop the killings and not to listen to the Islamic government that secretly are supplying them with the weapons and has encouraged them to destabilize the newly independent South Sudan. The Islamic government, now in North Sudan, has said South Sudan would not be able to govern itself and this is their attempt to prove to the world their point.This emergency is real and the need for money is great. Donations can be made to the Presbytery of Des Moines(with ‘SS Peace Fund’ in the memo line).
Prayers are also coveted. Thank you for your response.
The recent, unfortunate events in the Republic of South Sudanhave prompted a lot of efforts in the part of South Sudanese in general and Jonglei State Communities in the United States in particular.
The triangle of violence that persisted in the region for a long time now reached a very dangerous stage when they began to kill innocent members of their communities. In the past it did not happen as they follow cultural teaching that in a community war, innocent community members cannot be victimized. These include the elderly, the women and children. Now, they kill every one of them if they get them, even if they cannot walk, even if they are sick.
The ‘triangle of death’, as I call it, is comprised of Murle, Lou Naath (wrongly referred to as Nuer, which should have been Nuar) Community and Dinka Bor. The three have been doing things that have not been very helpful even after the CPA (known as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement). These people were supposed to get relief in the whole of the Republic of South Sudan; a newly born nation being tired of war, but just made it worse.
Therefore many of us in Diaspora would like to participate in speaking with our people who are killing themselves.
Now the current ongoing fight has claimed the lives of 3,000 on both sides of Murle and Lou Naath communities.
The members of Jonglei State of the Republic of South Sudan communities of Diaspora in the U.S.A. decided to meet in Washington, D.C. They have elected about 15 members of their own, including myself, Rev. Goanar J. Chol, to meet on Friday Jan. 13, to Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in hopes of exploring how we can resolve the violence.
Please, continue to pray for the peace efforts that are being pursued and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which is the main sponsor of this peace that started some years ago with an organization called RECONCILE.
Sudanese Ministries Resource Person
Presbytery of Des Moines
The Nuba Refugee Community of Des Moines is asking for donations to send emergency humanitarian aid to the Nuba Mountains region in Sudan.
To make a donation, go to the Iowa United Nations Association's website.
Ekram Kachu, a deacon at Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church in Des Moines and an inquirer under the care of the Presbytery of Des Moines has been accepted into University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. Ekram and her husbandMukhtar, who has just returned from Iraq where he was a translator, have four children—Kuku, Kani, Kalarga, and Kume. They will be leaving their extended family here in Des Moines to take up residence at the seminary.
The Rev. Dr. David B. Madsen, pastor at Cottage Grove Avenue Church had this to say about Ekram:
“I believe she is the first Sudanese woman to enter seminary under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I suspect she is also the first person of color to become a seminarian from our presbytery. Currently Ekram preaches once a month at the Arabic worship service (4 p.m.) at Cottage Grove Avenue Church. Undoubtedly she will have to switch languages for her preaching (and other) class(es).”
Prayers are requested for Ekram and her family as they make this faith journey to Dubuque.
Dear friends of the Sudanese People,
Thank you for praying for Sudan all these years and your support for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in 2005. Now the Sudan Khartoum Arab Government has resumed annihilation of the People of African descent including Muslims who do not support their extremist views.
All-out war and genocide started a few weeks ago in Abiey and now in Kadugli South Khordufan State and unfortunately, Egyptian United Nations soldiers now seem to be involved and appear to support the Arabs in their attempt to kill Africans as a report from Sudanese Churches revealed. The Egyptians, working as UN Military, sided with the Government of Khartoum in allowing fleeing perceived SPLA members to be removed from a UN convoy trying to take people to safety to be taken out of a UN vehicle and executed on spot with Egyptian UN soldiers watching saying nothing.
Will we silently sit by and watch – allowing a humanitarian catastrophe to take place – while innocent people are being destroyed?
The President of Northern Sudan Omar El Basheer who was indicted in the Haig as a criminal for Darfur genocide, is again carrying out genocide in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordufan, Abyie and other marginalized areas of the Sudan. It is not in the character of USA to allow genocide and we would like our U.S. Diplomats in Egypt to ask the new Military Government why is it that their UN personnel are involved in the internal affairs of Sudan while working for peace.
Please help us stop the killings. The major things Presbyterians can do include, but are not limited to:
Sudanese Ministries Coordinator,
Presbytery of Des Moines
Also, the national Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders put out a request for prayer June 22, 1011, in a recent article from the Presbyterian News Service (click below to read):
Presbyterian Leaders Offer a Call to Prayer for Sudan
BOLBACH, PARSONS, AND VALENTINE URGE PEACE AS JULY 9 INDEPENDENCE NEARS
Thanksgiving to God, celebrations and a continued excitement dominated the first quarter of this year and is still overwhelming the people of South Sudan. I hope many of our congregations in the Des Moines Presbytery will read this good news.
On Jan. 9, 2011, South Sudan overwhelmingly voted for independence after two devastating wars that had killed, maimed and destroyed families and lively-hoods of millions of people. It is estimated that 4.2 million Sudanese died in these two wars between 1955 to 1972 and 1983 to 2005.
The wars started when I was about 4 years old, therefore I was actually one of the ‘lost boys’ who was never known as I call our group the ‘unknown’ lost boys. The vote in that referendum was 98.7 %.
The chairman and main organizer of the event, Dr. Henry Lejukole, spoke to the assembly among other speakers.
The celebration moved many people and highlighted many of our country’s ethnic dances as seen in this video of the Mabaan tribal dance.
I shed tears when six people representing the SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) showed up in uniform carrying the flag of the new nation along side the United States flag: the main super power that pressured the Khartoum Government to sign the CPA. Through the prayers of many of my friends, God has finally said, ‘Kids, here is what you have been praying for...’ and my eyes have seen this!I am now praying to be present on July 9th, 2011, at the declaration of South Sudan’s independence in Juba, capital of the New Republic of South Sudan. God bless you for your prayers and may God’s blessings continue as you offer prayers for this new nation.
Dear friends, you may be aware that God has answered your prayer in the case of South Sudan with the longest story of war with the North. Many of you continued praying, or contributed money and any kind of support to bring that horrific war to an end or to a lasting peaceful resolution.
I am glad to let you know that God Almighty has answered your prayers by granting South Sudan independence. It is true that unceasing prayers are needed for the Sudan in general and South Sudan in particular. As a new nation is born, South Sudan will be accepted in the world community as the 153rd independent nation on July 9, 2011.
The people of South Sudan cannot contain their excitement. First of all, I would like to convey the gratitude of the people of South Sudan who have been supported by the Government, the people of the United States and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in particular and other faith groups.
Brothers and sisters you know we requested you to pray for us when we voted Jan. 9th, and you know that we voted in eight cities in the United States and many countries outside the Sudan and in the Sudan. The results came out showing about 98% of the people opted for secession.
The results pleased all of us and we are planning a celebration Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 at Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1050 24th St., in Des Moines. Our brothers and sisters are invited to attend. Also, we will conduct community dances March 12th in a place to be appointed at a later time.
God bless you all,
Sudanese Ministries Resource Person
Des Moines Presbytery