South Sudan (MNN) -- Doubt surrounds the peace process in South Sudan. Leaders missed a critical deadline this week and have asked for a 100-day extension. MNN spoke to Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton about these developments and more. “Are they going to work out their differences? Is there going to be a legitimate unity government? Those are questions that we don't know the answer to right now,” Nettleton says.
“When you think about [it], they've already applied for an extension that didn't work. Now, they're asking for another extension. It's not looking hopeful.”
Is peace unattainable in South Sudan?As outlined here by BBC News, war has been part of South Sudan’s identity from the very beginning. Bloodshed surrounded South Sudan’s birth as the world’s newest nation in 2011, and conflict between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar, started a new civil war in 2013. Five years after the war claimed nearly 400,000 lives and displaced 2.24 million people, Kiir and Machar finally signed a peace agreement. November 12, 2019, was supposed to signal the start of a new era – one where a unified government directs the affairs of South Sudan. Instead, Kiir and Machar postponed for yet another 100 days. This Foreign Policy article helps explain why peace is so hard to obtain in South Sudan. Foreign involvement in South Sudan’s process is “interesting” to say the least, Nettleton observes. “One of the people helping mediate... is the interim leader of Sudan. It's not a country that has a great human rights record. It's not a country that has a great a track record of...productive, democratic changes,” he says. “It is interesting that the interim leader in Sudan would now step in and offer advice to the different factions in South Sudan… you wonder if there's an agenda behind that or not.”
How to help South Sudan’s believersGreat need remains in South Sudan. Severe flooding has affected nearly 1 million people, according to the latest reports. Conflict has displaced more than 4 million South Sudanese, while volatility in neighboring countries has driven nearly 300,000 refugees into South Sudan. Peace and stability are important for relief and recovery efforts, and they’re critical to ongoing Gospel work. “There has been less conflict since the agreement was signed in Addis Ababa last September, but there is still the potential for conflict at any moment,” Nettleton says. “[That] is one of the reasons we want to see progress and we want to see a functioning unity government in place – to ‘tamp down’ some of those instincts towards taking power with a gun.”
Individuals can’t do much to influence South Sudan’s government, but – as believers – we know Someone who can.
Indonesia (MNN) -- At first glance, a retirement community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania may not have much in common with a church in Indonesia. But what theydo share transcends their differences -- they are believers linked through prayer. In Indonesia, Global Disciples trains churches to make disciples and reach the unreached with the Gospel. The harvest is ripe; 62 percent of Indonesia’s population is considered unreached according to The Joshua Project. The stakes for the Gospel are high. Indonesian Christians are in the minority and new converts are often targeted or isolated by their friends and family. Global Disciples’ Wendy Nagle says they recently heard of a 19-year-old girl named Damaris who attends one of their church partners’ discipleship trainings. Damaris was raised in an animist tradition and recently accepted Jesus as her Savior. Nagle says their prayer leader in Indonesia asked for prayer for Damaris. “She joined the training really understanding that her parents were opposed to her being there…. But Damaris knew that if she was going to serve Jesus, she needed to understand how she could talk to other people about Christ, and she looked forward to this opportunity for training.”
Specifically, the prayer leader asked Global Disciples to ask the Lord to “cover Damaris in the training session and really touch her heart and give her ways that she could honor her family by sharing the love of Jesus.”
“[They] really began to understand that power of [a] redemption story that they could then share with their friends and family -- not only redemption of stolen items, but the price that Christ paid on the cross and His redemption of their sins.”
Russia (MNN) -- Snow has fallen, Christmas music is on the radio, and many people are busy preparing for the holiday season. At the same time, Slavic Gospel Association is getting ready for its Christmas outreach, Immanuel’s Child.
Immanuel’s ChildSGA’s Vice President of Ministry Operations Eric Mock says Immanuel’s Child is about more than Christmas, though. Mock says the work of Immanuel’s Child is similar to the description in Colossians 1:28-29. Through partnerships, SGA resources local churches in the former Soviet Union for the work God has called them to do. “The focus is year-round discipleship. So, when people give to Immanuel’s Child, not only are they assisting the Church in providing a gift to reach out to many children in the community that the Church would not have had the resources to do. But it also provides a Bible, and it provides Sunday school materials for the kids that return into church hand start attending Sunday school,” Mock explains.
Doors Open During ChristmasDuring the Christmas season, it is common for people in Russia to open their doors to caroling strangers. Honoring tradition, they will invite carolers into their homes for a meal and are even open to listening to a Bible devotion and prayer. Christmas is an ideal time for Immanuel’s Child to lay a foundation for future ministry. The churches SGA serves are so dedicated to Immanuel’s Child outreach that they will celebrate Christmas a couple of weeks before the traditional Christmas day to ensure they can participate in outreach. During Immanuel’s Child outreaches, churches collect tickets with the contact information of people they serve. This information allows churches to follow up once the holiday season is over.
Next StepsWith each gift, children receive a paper star that says “JESUS LOVES YOU” in Russian. On the other side of the star is the name of a donor who has committed to praying for that child throughout the year. Mock says the kids are most excited about the star they receive. The kids will even line up, waiting for someone to translate the name of the person who has committed to praying specifically for them. “We are already in the process of beginning to ship Bibles in advance to many of the locations in 11 countries. We are receiving countless requests from these churches. Every year, we get more requests than we’re even able to respond to. We’re desperate to try [to] provide them as many resources as we can,” Mock says. Will you help? Here are three ways to get involved with and support SGA’s Immanuel’s Child.
- Call SGA at 800-BIBLE-50 (800-242-5350) to request Immanuel’s Child stars and materials to sign and send to SGA’s partner churches.
- Financially support Immanuel’s Child and help SGA provide the resources each church needs to outreach.
- Pray. Ask God to provide SGA partner churches with opportunities to share about Christ. Pray parents will want to know this Christ their kids are learning about in their new Bibles.
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