Presbyterian Moderator the Rev Dr Rob Craig is requesting urgent prayer at Presbyterian services during the Christmas/New Year period for the worsening situation in South Sudan.
Dr Craig, in a letter to all Presbyterian ministers, says: “With Christmas almost here, news is reaching us from the fledgling nation of South Sudan that the threat of civil war, primarily between the Dinka and Nuer tribes, is very real with 500 people having already lost their lives, and many more unaccounted for, in the violence that has erupted there in the past few days.
“On behalf of the people of South Sudan, I am therefore imploring you to join with me in urgent prayer for this fledgling state and its people. On Christmas Day, and again on Sunday December 29, I ask you please to lead your congregations in prayer for South Sudan, and to encourage your members to continuing praying daily for the precarious situation there.”
Earlier this year, Dr Craig witnessed first hand the devastating effects of tribal conflict when he visited Rwanda, a country still living in the aftermath of the genocide of twenty years ago and he hopes and prays South Sudan will be spared such cruelty.”
“In Rwanda, I heard about and saw personally some of the devastating effects of inter-tribal conflict. I visited two Roman Catholic churches where people, who had fled for sanctuary, were massacred. The accounts I heard were brutal and will stay with me. May South Sudan be spared such cruelty,” added Dr Craig.
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has close links with the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) and last month the Rev Uel Marrs, secretary of the Presbyterian board of mission overseas, visited the country and met with PCOSS’s secretary-general the Rev John Yor Nyiker.
“During my visit I travelled to Malakal where I was moved to witness 1,500 school children from different backgrounds sing with so much passion and optimism, the national anthem of the newly independent South Sudan,” says Rev Marrs.
“It is vital in this land with so much potential, that the political differences of a few national leaders should not be allowed to plunge its people into widespread tribal conflict. Let us cry out to God that such a tragedy be averted.”
In his letter the Moderator urges prayers to be shaped around the following points: prayer for key political leaders to be committed to dialogue for the sake of the peace of South Sudan; prayer for the Christian church, not least our partners, the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, that it may be an agent of reconciliation, care, comfort, healing and understanding; prayer for the bereaved, stricken by the grief of loved ones recently killed, that they will be comforted and will resist the temptation to seek revenge; prayer for the 60,000 internally displaced civilians seeking protection and humanitarian assistance.”
Last week-end, Dr Craig backed an appeal from Archbishop of Canterbury Rev Dr Justin Welby and Church of Scotland Moderator Rev Lorna Hood to South Sudan leaders to lay down their weapons and co-operate in seeking peace through dialogue.”