A letter from Leisa Wagstaff in the U.S., returning to South Sudan
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Dear Partners in Mission,
The time has finally come. After an extended stay in the U.S.A. due to a severe ankle injury, I can begin making preparations for a return to South Sudan. It is my hope that in a few weeks I will be reunited with my South Sudanese colleagues and engaged in the PC(USA)’s educational ministry with the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS). My PCOSS co-workers and friends say that they will dance and sing with me upon my arrival. I look forward to it. THANK YOU for helping me through this challenging time.
I also look forward to witnessing real progress in the implementation of a recent peace agreement between the government of South Sudan and the opposing forces that are led by a former vice-president. Even though I have been away for such a long time, I know that the difficulty for the country’s citizens has not decreased. At least seven ceasefires have been agreed upon and broken since conflict started in December 2013, just two months after my arrival there. A recent statistic puts one in five South Sudanese as having to relocate due to the current conflict, either as an internally displaced persons (IDP) or as a refugee forced to flee to another country. Even that grim statistic, however, does not adequately depict the horrors of living with uncertainty and in fear that the country will never be able to live up to the promises that so many dared to dream at independence.
The South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project (SSEPP) will continue to work with communities to bring about better understanding between groups of people, promote community mobilization for development, teacher training, construction of classrooms, and provide opportunities for children to access good education. You have stood with this project (and the PCOSS) from its beginning and have helped to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to people who have known war for more than 40 of the past 60 years.
As we come to the close of this year, we can see the classrooms that have been built, the teachers that have received training, communities that are taking responsibility for education and reconciliation, and the determination to make South Sudan a place that people on all sides of the current conflict can call home. However, many, many more classrooms, confident and equipped teachers, and organized groups of people are needed in order to move beyond the present situation.
Our sisters and brothers of the PCOSS are investing their lives in making these plans a reality. It is my honor and privilege to walk with alongside them in God’s mission in South Sudan. Will you please pray about this situation? Making all these plans a reality will cost money. If possible, will you increase your gift for this year and next year? Would you consider advocating for this ministry with neighboring congregations to see if they would join us? I would so appreciate your help in these ways. Thank you again and again.
In Ministry Together,
Leisa TonieAnn Wagstaff
Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS)
c/o Juba, Central Equatoria State, South Sudan
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 139
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