On 23 February, the Friday of the first week of Lent, the Anglican Alliance and the Anglican Communion are supporting the call of Pope Francis for an ecumenical day of fasting and prayer for peace in solidarity with the people of South Sudan and DRC.
Janice Proud, Anglican Alliance Relief Manager, said, “Both in DR Congo and South Sudan, but also in surrounding countries, the people are crying out for peace. On a recent visit to Ethiopia, I heard a yearning for peace to allow people to return home.”
Mother Mary, from Pagak in South Sudan, told Janice how on the day conflict came “we picked up the children and fled with just the clothes we were wearing. We left everything behind, even food, we ran for our lives. Now we sit here and the people of the church share with us their food.”
Mother Mary and others have been living in the grass roofed church office since July last year. When asked why she has not registered as a refugee and gone to the camps, she says she hopes for peace and to return home. The priest then explained how her village had suffered aerial and rocket launcher attacks. All the locals had were spears. They had to flee.
This story illustrates the impact of the conflict on just one family. But the conflicts in South Sudan and DR Congo are impacting many more. In South Sudan, 1.8 million are internally displaced and 2.4 million have fled like Mother Mary to neighbouring countries. In DR Congo, 4.49 million are internally displaced, while another 630 thousand people have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees.
Pope Francis said, “Faced with the tragic continuation of conflict in several parts of the world, I invite all faithful to a special day of prayer and fasting for peace on this coming 23 February, Friday of the First Week of Lent. We will offer this in particular to the populations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and of South Sudan.
“Our heavenly Father always listens to His children who cry to Him in pain and in anguish; ‘He heals the broken hearted and binds their wounds’ (Psalm 147, 3). I address a heartfelt appeal that we too hear this cry and, each person in his or her own conscience, before God, let us ask ourselves, ‘what can I do for peace?’.”
The acting primate of South Sudan, Archbishop Peter Munde Yacoub of the internal province of Western Equatoria, and Bishop of Yambio, welcomed the call to prayer.
“Pray that the Almighty God can turn their hearts from waging war to peace. We, the South Sudanese, are fed up of war and there is no one who is interested again in war. Pray that the Almighty God can work through them and they can put the interest of the South Sudanese people, which is Peace.
“Jesus says if we pray faithfully, the mountains can fall into the sea. We have mountains in front of us: the evil war and the killing of innocent people.
“Pray that Almighty God will remove this evil war and bring us peace, and remove the suffering of South Sudanese people.”
The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, also backed the call to prayer and fasting, saying:
“Conflicts continue to blight the lives of millions of people. In support of our brothers and sisters in areas of conflict, and particularly in solidarity with those in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, I join with Pope Francis in calling the Churches of the Anglican Communion and all people of good will to prayer and fasting for peace on Friday 23 February.”
Resources to help support prayer on 23 February will be made available on the ACNS website.
Support those working with people affected by the conflict:
Episcopal Relief & Development are supporting the Anglican Church of the Congo (Eglise Anglicane du Congo) and the Episcopal Church of South Sudan as they respond to people affected by the ongoing conflict in these countries. Please support them to allow the local church to be there for people living with or displaced by conflict.
In Australia, the Anglican mission agencies Anglican Board of Mission and Anglican Overseas Aid are supporting the Episcopal Church of South Sudan as they respond to people suffering famine as a result of the conflict in South Sudan. Please support them to allow the local church to provide food, but also seed and tools to be able to start growing again in protected areas they have negotiated in the conflict zone.
The Mothers’ Union continue to support relief efforts of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and the Anglican Church of the Congo (Eglise Anglicane du Congo) as well as working through the local Mothers’ Union to support local communities cope with the impact of the ongoing conflict in South Sudan and DR Congo.
Please support them to allow this vital work to continue.
USPG have supported the Episcopal Church of South Sudan as they respond to people suffering famine as a result of the conflict in South Sudan.
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) in Canada have been supporting Episcopal Church of South Sudan both with relief efforts and peace projects.