Thursday, April 11
Republic of South Sudan
The sun burns bright in the midday sky as we stand under the arms of mango trees. Hands waving and hips twisting, we join our voices with the chorus of children standing before us. My shoes shuffle behind the small bare feet dancing around me. The children giggle with delight as my wife and I sing along with them. The children’s excitement is enough to make us blush, and their vibrant joy is enough to make us wonder how so much love can come from a place that has endured Africa’s longest-standing civil war.
Nancy and I have been called to serve in efforts of reconciliation in South Sudan. We come to this tree each day to learn the local language from the community, and we leave with a sense of renewed hope. Most mornings of language learning begin with prayers and conclude with praise songs led by the children. Our classroom extends past this canopy of mango leaves into the homes and public spaces of the community. We learn from elders sitting beneath straw-thatched roofs, women gathering greens for their families, and men heating bricks for their homes. They share their language and their lives. Most have witnessed tragedies that eyes should never see, many have lost their families, and some were once chased into exile—but all have committed to helping strangers feel loved and welcomed.
—Rev. Shelvis Smith-Mather, PC(USA) mission co-worker, Yei, South Sudan
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) People in Mission
Rev. Debra Blane, theology lecturer, Nile Theological College • Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS): Sharon Curry, community health evangelism facilitator, Presbyterian Relief and Development Agency, Aliamma George, community health evangelism facilitator, Rev. Jacob George, theological educator, Giffen Bible School • Across: Nancy McGaughey, health coordinator, Dr. Ingrid Reneau, education officer and partnership manager • RECONCILE: Rev. Nancy Smith-Mather, program facilitator, Rev. Shelvis Smith-Mather, principal, Peace Institute
Let us pray
Loving God, help us to be people of faith, hope, and love in a world that needs them desperately. Help us to express your love like so many in South Sudan. Teach us to cling to the possibilities of your transforming power, and allow us to help others to do the same. In your loving and welcoming presence we pray. Amen.