Since 1987 Trinity South Sudan Ministry (TSSM) has been dedicated to a partnership-based ministry focused on spreading the gospel, increasing the health and educational opportunities of the people of the Sudan, and improving the capacity of the people that they may experience progress. Primarily our work has been in that part of the region which is now established as the nation of South Sudan. Initially organized by Trinity Presbytery (PCUSA), the ministry now includes multiple partners including congregations of Presbyterian, United Methodist, Reformed, United Church of Christ and other denominations. TSSM has broad support from both Christian and Jewish individuals and organizations. Partners include groups from California to South Sudan and onward to Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Australia.
Status Report of Ministry April 24, 2014
Because of the consistently deteriorating security situation over several years in Jonglei State, where most of our work is focused, at a Ministry Retreat in 2013, the decision was made to focus on peacebuilding until peace is established. To that end we partnered with PC(USA) Africa Mission in conducting a meeting of leaders from all denominations in Jonglei to seek to bring all churches together in fighting conflict. Shortly after that, what had been a problem largely limited to Jonglei, became a national conflict which ultimately has resulted in civil war largely along tribal lines. Thus our peacebuilding effort became more urgent. Our priorities in accomplishing our mission are:
A. Our number one priority is to bring about a just and lasting internal peace in South Sudan focusing on the areas served by our primary partner, the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan. Major elements are:
1. Individual and communal prayer 2. Empowering the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan 3. Advocating for peace by seeking support of influential organizations
B. All other efforts are priority two. In each our effort will be to train and empower rather than to “do.” Each effort shall incorporate some element of spreading the gospel. Believing that women are a key to both peace and progress, each effort shall specifically examine how women will be empowered. No specific action will be undertaken absent the request from our partners.
Priority two goals include:
1. Education: We will endeavor to significantly raise the primary and secondary education level of both children and adults of both genders. Our efforts will focus on training teachers who will remain in their villages to teach; improving the local ability to train teachers; and providing appropriate teaching materials. A significant effort will be made to educate girls and women.
2. Health and Sanitation: Health teams will shift focus from treating the ill to training the local staff. We additionally seek to improve the health of the people through training.
3. Economic Sustainability: Following considerable discussion, no specific target was set. Instead it was decided to further investigate micro-loans oriented toward the needs expressed by the people who are willing to borrow money to accomplish them.
4. Theological Education: We seek to improve the biblical knowledge and understanding of the responsibilities of pastors, evangelists, elders and deacons. This will be done through support of Nile Theological College – Malakal, Giffin Institute of Theology, and developing Shalom Bible School; through providing scholarships; and through direct training during visits when requested by local authority. We also will provide Bibles and other needed materials as requested.
Specific implementation of these goals is being driven by the circumstances on the ground. At the present time, there is significant civil war in northern Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states which prohibit most of our efforts there. Additionally the headquarters of the church in Malakal, of necessity, has been abandoned and the officials scattered. Thus our focus is driven to areas in which we can work and with groups with which we can work.
1. Establishing a program to stop the conflict. This is being developed by Rev. John Omot (Eastern Jonglei Presbytery) in Nairobi in cooperation with other PCoSS pastors and Episcopal Bishop Abraham Nhial. The idea is to begin the peacebuilding as a multi-denominational, multicultural effort in the refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda and move to safe areas in South Sudan as possible.
2. Rev. John Tubuwa – supported by our partner First Presbyterian Church in Fond du Lac, WI. – is working through Eastern Jonglei Presbytery to work on trauma healing and building a basis for peace among the Murle people.
3. Training Evangelist Othow Okoti (Eastern Jonglei Presbytery) in peacemaking and community development through the U.S. Institute for Peace and in local construction techniques through Cal-Earth. He will return to Pochalla County and be our primary resource person there working on providing Bibles, peace building, encouraging farming in southern Pochalla, and establishing an Eco-Dome construction program.
4. Supporting Rev. Orozu Lokine’s position as an interpreter and advisor to the church team which is negotiating with the Yau Yau militia to bring peace to southern Jonglei; identifying emergency needs in southern Jonglei and attempting to fulfill a portion of those. Emergency food, shelter, water and health care were judged to be critical.
a. To meet those needs, which were beyond our ability, we provided PCoSS and Eastern Jonglei Presbytery leaders with information about contacting PRDA, USAID, and U.N. agencies.
b. We have provided funds with which to purchase seed and garden tools so that the expected famine for 2015 can be mitigated by crops planted now and are working with a company to provide water purification liquid drops to help provide near term safe water.
5. Supporting Pastor Trainee James Aleyi to continue training people to farm in Pibor County, developing plans to establish Shalom Bible School, and restoring the SALT compound to support planned PCUSA education and peacebuilding efforts later this year. 6. Developing a South Sudanese diaspora group to advocate with us with the U.S., U.N., IGAD, and others to stop the conflict.
Mac Brown Moderator, Trinity South Sudan Ministry