Newsline Special: Updates from Global Mission and Service




“This is how you shall act: in the fear of the Lord, in faithfulness, and with your whole heart” (2 Chronicles 19:9).
 

UPDATES FROM GLOBAL MISSION AND SERVICE
1) Brethren compound in South Sudan is looted by security forces
2) Linda and Robert Shank to stay in the US for the summer


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1) Brethren compound in South Sudan is looted by security forces

The gates to the Church of the Brethren Peace Center in South Sudan

By Jay Wittmeyer

The ongoing civil war in South Sudan has reached the outskirts of the Church of the Brethren Peace Center in the city of Torit in Eastern Equatorial State, South Sudan. The church center was looted by Government of South Sudan (GOSS) security forces on June 14, reports Athanasus Ungang, Global Mission and Service staff who has been serving in South Sudan. No one was injured at the compound as the local facility manager was away for the day, and Ungang had traveled back to the United States.

The security forces cut through the fencing of the compound and went through the few small buildings. They took Ungang’s clothing and personal items, as well as mattresses, tents, blankets, and cooking supplies.

That morning, 18 GOSS security force men were killed in a battle with militia from the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO), Ungang reports. The militia supports the former vice-president Riek Macher. Previously, most of the fighting had been in the north of the country, and the work of the Brethren had continued outside of the war zone.

For more information about the denomination’s longterm mission in South Sudan, go to www.brethren.org/global/south-sudan.html .

-- Jay Wittmeyer is executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.

2) Linda and Robert Shank to stay in the US for the summer

Robert and Linda Shank, who have been teaching in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) with support from the Global Mission and Service of the Church of the Brethren, will be staying in the United States for the summer. This spring, Linda Shank’s health prevented the couple from returning to their teaching posts at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST). Given the uncertainty surrounding the situation, the Shanks are considering their options for the fall.

Robert Shank (at right) in a meeting with educational leaders from China, during a recent visit they made to PUST
Photo by Linda Shank

Robert Shank (at right) in a meeting with educational leaders from China, during a recent visit they made to PUST

The Church of the Brethren has had ongoing involvement in North Korea for more than 20 years, dating back to at least the mid-1990s when the Global Food Crisis Fund gained connections through its work in agricultural development. Since 1996, the fund--now the Global Food Initiative--has provided grants for hunger relief, agricultural development, farm rehabilitation, and most recently the work of the Shanks at PUST.

Over the decades, the church’s involvement developed and grew through grant support for a cluster of farm cooperatives. Brethren grants helped boost agricultural production and helped equip the country to avert periodic famine. For some years, this work was accomplished with help from consultant Dr. Pilju Kim Joo of Agglobe Services International.

In 2008, a delegation of Church of the Brethren members visited North Korea in a trip organized and led by then-GFCF manager Howard Royer. The group, which included Dr. Joo, visited the farm cooperatives and other sites.

The Church of the Brethren has sent a representative to the opening of a unique educational venture in North Korea--the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), reported to be the first privately funded university allowed in the Democratic People=s Republic of Korea.

In Septemer 2009, Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer attended the opening ceremony of PUST, reported to be the first privately funded university allowed in the Democratic People=s Republic of Korea. The ceremony culminated years of effort to build the school by the sponsoring nonprofit agency, the faith-based Northeast Asia Foundation for Education and Culture.

In 2010, the Shanks started at PUST. Robert Shank has served as dean of the school of agriculture and has taught courses such as genetics and plant breeding. Linda Shank has taught English and biology courses.
 
Links to the most recent news about the Shanks’ work are at www.brethren.org/global/northkorea/index.jsp?page=1 .

A report on the 2008 delegation, with more background information, is at http://support.brethren.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5455 .

A report and a link to a photo album of the opening ceremony for PUST is at http://support.brethren.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=9381 .

A photo album of one of the farm rehabilitation programs is at http://support.brethren.org/site/PhotoAlbumUser?AlbumID=8999&view=UserAlbum .
 

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Contributors to this Newsline Special include Jay Wittmeyer and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

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