AFRECS E-Blast: February 1, 2017

Courage and Commitment
Message from Executive Director, Richard Parkins: 
Dear Friends,
Invariably, I seek learnings from events such as visits to new destinations or important holidays that pertain to our work with Sudan and South Sudan.  In that regard, I'll reflect upon the just past MLK observance and my recent visit to Gujarat, the site of the shrine to Mahatma Gandhi.  Both of these icons of world transforming movements for peace and justice lived lives that show what courage and commitment can do in fostering change - change in dealing with circumstances which many may have regarded as beyond change in the near future.
The violence continues in South Sudan and the leadership seems impervious to pleas for peace and reconciliation.  Many consider the situation stalemated with little prospect of a political solution to a crisis that places millions at risk of starvation and continues to displace thousands from their homes with little or no protection or support.  There is a dominant narrative of despair that plagues this war weary nation.  It's a situation that would seem unlikely to change any time soon, yet we must remain hopeful and seek avenues toward peace and reconciliation.
This dire situation brings to mind the relentless efforts of Mahatma Gandhi to move the pendulum of British imperialism through a persistent message of passive resistance and non-violence to a point where the mighty empire had to move the pendulum toward independence.  A combination of factors contributed to Indian independence but certainly the will and courage of Gandhi and his brave followers was a decisive ingredient of the move toward independence for the Indian people.
Closer to home is the civil rights movement which took its inspiration from many audacious leaders with Martin Luther King, Jr. being foremost among them.  As one who remembers and participated in that movement, I recall skeptics saying that the society against which the movement was directed was too entrenched to move with the speed and force that was suggested by the movement's leaders.  But Dr. King and his companions soldiered on and change happened, producing transformative results.  Both leaders defied the odds, gathered followers who shared in their determination and persevered to a point where victory could be claimed or, at least, produce the elements of victory as they both became martyrs to their respective causes.  Many other examples can be cited, such as the mission of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.  All point to leadership and the ability to persist as their cause grew stronger and more daunting.
I know that many of us are deeply saddened as we hear of repeated acts of unspeakable violence in both Sudan and South Sudan.  But we are encouraged as we were recently on a network conference call, hearing accounts of Christmas services and confirmations taking place in Nzara as well as the impressive work being done on behalf of students at the Hope and Resurrection School in Atiaba, South Sudan. We know that violence in the Diocese of Wau has not diminished the effective work of that diocese as it keeps its people together through a robust system of communications and education.  We could add more items to this list, if more examples were needed.  All of this suggests that there is still a spirit that will not be extinguished even as war continues in many parts of the country. 
As we invoke the memories of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, let us pray for the emergence of such leaders in both Sudan and South Sudan.  Let us pray fervently for those who try to lead their people toward peace against formidable circumstances.  Let us be partners who encourage and actively support such efforts as we have in the past, knowing that we share a resource in the Gospel message of Jesus - a message of hope and a commitment to peace and reconciliation.
In peace,
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Recent News: South Sudan
United Nations Multimedia: Today the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres reported that progress had been made during the recent African Union summit in Addis Ababa. Conditions must be established for a "future of hope" in South Sudan, he said.

Episcopal Relief and Development continues its humanitarian relief work through SUDRA, the relief agency active in South Sudan, by assisting with dry good rations and other distributions for displaced communities. Expected total to be served is approximately 30,000 people.

This Famine Early Warning Systems Network report predicts the possibility of famine in South Sudan during 2017 and shows a map outlining the areas of concern.


The New York Times: South Sudan Cannot Be Allowed to Collapse is a recent Opinion-Editorial by Andrew Natsios, currently a professor at Texas A&M University, who served as the US special envoy for Sudan 2006-7.  Excerpts follow:
"If the conflict in Syria tops the list of the world’s worst civil wars today, the one in South Sudan is a close second. Over the past three years, more than three million South Sudanese civilians have been displaced inside the country or have fled abroad because of fighting and atrocities — including more than 340,000 just to Uganda over the past six months."

"Any solution to the current crisis must be political. Yet the bloodletting since December 2013 has been so terrible, the atrocities so horrific, that current leaders on all sides have lost too much credibility to form a new government, or even usefully participate in negotiations over a political settlement. ..."

"The only way forward, in other words, is for new local actors to broker a new political settlement, with outsiders acting as only supporting cast during the negotiations but guaranteeing its enforcement after it is signed. ... Current leaders on all sides would have to be offered a graceful exit toward a foreign country and guarantees that they would not face criminal prosecution. An interim national government comprising leaders not involved in the crisis would have to be formed to allow for a cooling-off period. ... Negotiations for the creation of this interim government should include church leaders, civil-society leaders, traditional tribal chiefs and younger political leaders from all the tribes and factions. The church may be the only institution in South Sudan that still has credibility with the population and does not have blood on its hands." (Editor's emphasis.)


A recent report from Enough: The project to end genocide and crimes against humanity is advocating consequences for ... predatory actors that harm South Sudanese people, including: possible sanctions; leveraging U.S. anti-money laundering authorities (against) transactions involving the South Sudanese military; and bringing pressure and... penalties on banks (and other institutions) using U.S. dollars and are thus subject to U.S. jurisdiction. 

Dear Friends,
Thank you for your interest, your prayers, and your support.
We invite you to visit our Website:
Ellen J. Hanckel
If you'd like to be doing more to help address the crisis in South Sudan, please consider the following:
*Pray for peace and deep healing of the conflicts and rivalries in South Sudan.
*Join AFRECS or renew your annual membership on line at

* If you have contacts in South Sudan and are able to get news of various parts of the country and the church from them, keep AFRECS in the loop by replying to this email or using our main contact email address:
* Be prepared to advocate for peacemaking with the US (or other) government, especially if attention to conflict resolution wanes.
*Donate to support the Episcopal Church in South Sudan and Sudan’s efforts to provide solace and encourage reconciliation. 
*Urge others to support AFRECS as well.