By Eric Miller
In November 2023, the executive directors of the Church of the Brethren’s Service Ministries and Global Mission departments, Roy Winter and Eric Miller respectively, visited South Sudan for six days. During that time, they met with Athanasus Ungang, who is country director of Brethren Global Services, the Church of the Brethren mission project there.
The group made their way across rutted dirt roads from the capital city of Juba to the rented home of Brethren Global Services in Torit, and met with local staff. Discussions were held about the state of the programs and possible new directions now that churches have been planted in South Sudan. Details will be available once they are finalized.
Meetings also were held with the bishop of the Africa Inland Church to discuss cooperation and prepare a partnership agreement, which was signed in December. Due to high waters and impassable roads, visits to the farm and two churches of the Brethren program were cancelled. Other visits were made to the former Peace Center, which will be turned over to the local community once the community can agree on who will control it. Miller and Winter also visited the prison where Ungang was held for a time, after he was wrongly accused of a crime.
As one staff member noted, South Sudan is a country neither at peace nor at war. While the land along the Nile River is fertile, it is hard to convince people to invest in building farms when they fear a return to war. Most food and supplies come from nearby Uganda and little is produced locally. Even while refugees from South Sudan remain in Uganda, new refugees are arriving from war-torn country of Sudan. In this context, the Church of the Brethren is speaking peace, urging people to reconcile, heal trauma, grow food, and join together as a church with faith in Jesus Christ and hope for the future.
While the Church of the Brethren has sister churches and partners in many countries around the world, the South Sudan project is the only mission fully funded by the Church of the Brethren in the United States.
— Eric Miller is executive director of Global Mission for the Church of the Brethren. For more about the Global Mission program go to www.brethren.org/global.
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