The Dinka tribe members have been in civil war with the Nuer people since 2013 and the number of deaths still occurring in South Sudan is staggering.
What began as a clash of loyalties in the world’s youngest nation has erupted into horrific circumstances and the flood of refugees has resulted in the fastest growing refugee camp in the world.
But God’s Grace is shining through the bloody struggle in a powerful way.
The reason? This refugee camp is also flooding with the only hope that can bring healing to those involved: the forgiveness from God Almighty.
Life appeared normal in 2013.
The president Salva Kiir ran the nation of South Sudan with authority and purpose. He came from Dinka ethnicity while his vice president, Riek Machar, belonged to the Nuer people.
As time went on, the two clashed on an increasing number of issues and by the end of that year there was no more compromise.
The Nuer people stood up on behalf of Machar as the Dinkas rose against them with Kiir at the head. This bloody civil war has continued since the third such conflict the Sudanese people have endured within the past century.
According to Religion News, “thousands have been killed, 2 million have been displaced in South Sudan, and another 2 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries. More than 1 million have fled to Uganda… [One] camp, known as Bidi Bidi, is home to more than 250,000 people.”
It is from the Bidi Bidi camp that our story of hope and grace comes.
Bidi Bidi is unique, as dozens of God-preaching churches have sprouted up amidst difficult circumstances.
Before the recent crisis, many Christians lived and worshipped in South Sudan. Now, a large portion of those people have come to Bidi Bidi bringing their faith with them and inviting whomever they could find.
With the amount of families and friends displaced or lost in the tragedy, the prayers of all within this space cry to heaven daily, even every moment.
The theme overwhelming in this camp is spiritual warfare.
The people here, both Christians and the unbelievers being influenced, are beginning to recognize what it will take to restore their homeland.
Pastor John Deng is one such church leader that gathered as many as he could to flee the violence and brought his group to the safety of the Bidi Bidi refugee camp.
He says that “the church has played a vital role in unifying the people of South Sudan who had hated each other. We are happy that people are living peaceful in the camp away from home.”
Besides teaching God’s Word, the pastor’s mission is to create a visionary cooperation across tribal lines. The hurts incurred on both sides are of a weight far too great for any one effort to release.
There is absolutely a need for healing of all hearts, particularly in the perspective of each tribe toward the other, for any national restoration to be possible.
We as the church body should pray toward this, particularly for wisdom of the leaders seeking this peace as well as the hearts seeking God for such healing.
The trauma experienced by all cuts deep and has left lasting impact on everyone. Another huge mission of the churches in Bidi Bidi is emotional healing. Pray the God of all comfort dwells amongst those who seek Him for this help.
Other examples of the devastation are most easily seen in families now torn apart.
One such story is Kuol, of the Dinka tribe. Her husband was murdered just last summer during an attack by government soldiers. It was at that point she sought the refuge at Bidi Bidi.
By God’s grace, she and two of her children made it to the camp, but one died of hunger along the way. People such as Kuol have realized that there truly is only One who can save them now and only One even holding them together.
She states her newfound faith in this belief, “God saved me from death, and I had to accept him. In God I find peace, and I don’t have nightmares … though the memories of the killings still haunt me.”
Even still, with the insanity taking place, God is showing His blessing that only comes when a nation humbles itself and repents. To cause a nation to turn, each one must turn from his or her own ways and believe in God as One Who Loves All Equally.
As Kuol has turned to God for national forgiveness, she has received personal redemption.
In fact, according to Religion News, Kuol “credits God with sustaining her desire to live, despite her overwhelming troubles. Her church has helped her focus on the future rather than the past, she said. Her plans include a church wedding to her Nuer prayer partner.”
That is surely a miracle showing the mighty unity only our God of Wholeness could create.
“I don’t know where I would have been without God … I would have died a long time ago. I have so many problems that I sometimes think of committing suicide. But God always comes to my rescue,” Kuol says.
Indeed, the entire South Sudan people are scattered and in pain without God.
Those who enter in are finding Truth that frees and a hope that enlightens the darkest places.
You see, it is not just the victims of violence who are now seeking the Lord, but also the perpetrators.
According to Religion News, “Confessions flow as they recall the ones they killed in the civil war back home in South Sudan. They cry out, lamenting ordeals they endure at night. Others weep in prayer as they ask God for forgiveness.”
Pray for these people. Pray for unity, and help as they seek God for it. Pray they will turn from the wicked hatred of one another, continuing the deaths and evil in that land.
Pray particularly for Bidi Bidi. While many Christians are there and God’s Mighty Salvation is sweeping across the land, there are still many who live there far from Him.
Pray for their salvation, as well as God’s protection on the ones around them, from any manifestations of their hate toward fellow or opposing tribe refugees.