Added on 16/05/2014
Prayers for Bishop Anthony and Revd Basil at the Connor / Yei Focus evening.
The partnership between the dioceses of Connor and Yei in South Sudan was the focus of an evening organised by CMS Ireland in Ballymoney on 13 May.
Special guests were the Rev Basil Buga from Yei and Bishop Anthony Poggo from Kajo Keji Diocese. They are among a number of global partners in Ireland to help celebrate CMS Ireland’s 200th anniversary.
The evening was hosted by the Revd Andrew Sweeney, Connor Council for Mission. Andrew was part of a team from Connor which visited Yei in January 2013. Another visit to South Sudan last January was postponed due to civil unrest. Connor and Yei have been in partnership since 2007.
Bishop Anthony described the background to this latest conflict which he said he had displaced an estimated 1.3 million people and had cost the lives of at least 10,000.
The leaders of the two factions reached agreement on May 9, he said, and a transitional government is to be formed. ‘This is very significant but there are a lot of issues to be hammered out,’ Bishop Anthony said. ‘We request your prayers so that they will look at all these issues and agree on the way forward, because that is the key for the future of this nation.’
The Bishop gave a brief biblical reflection on Nehemiah, drawing parallels to the situation in South Sudan. He said: ‘By helping build a school or a vocational training college you are helping in the fight against poverty and helping us prevent future war. You are giving us encouragement and a reason why we should remain in peace.’
CMSI Partnership Co–ordinator Jenny Smyth, who visited South Sudan in March, showed images of devastation caused by the conflict and of the work the church is doing, providing food and shelter for displaced people.
‘Yei town suffered violence and people were killed but things have stabilised and we pray that with the new peace agreement things will stabilise in other places,’ said Jenny.
She added that there was a ‘desperate sense of loss of hope’ among the people of South Sudan.
An Emergency Appeal launched by CMSI has raised £42,000 which has been used to provide shelter, food and other essential items for displaced people who have sought refuge in church compounds.
Revd Basil told the meeting that he grew up in a refugee camp in Uganda. ‘I just want to say thank you,’ he said. ‘When you are a Christian and you are out walking you do not know what danger lurks near you until you have passed that section of road, but someone’s prayer has saved you.
‘Your prayers have saved Yei Diocese. We needed health care and you gave us health care. Over the last 200 years you [CMSI] have worked with us and for 30 years you have walked with us in Yei. You have held our hands.’
Basil spoke about Yei’s plans for training and education in the diocese. ‘When you support the work of the church to help it to help itself, you build the capacity of the church. Bishop Hilary [of Yei] said to tell our brothers and sisters in Ireland that it is not about money, but it is about unity,’ Basil said.
‘When our hearts are united on a common journey of faith, together we will make it.’
The support given by Connor Diocese to the various church projects in Yei was reiterated by Dr Frank Dobbs, a GP from Agherton Parish who was part of the last team to visit Yei. He said he had seen amazing things and amazing relationships grow between the two dioceses.
Before the meeting closed, prayers were said for South Sudan and for Bishop Anthony and Revd Basil.
For further information please contact:
Connor Diocesan Communications Officer