A letter from Sharon Kandel serving in South Sudan
Individuals: Give to 200524 for Lynn and Sharon Kandel’s sending and support
Congregations: Give to D507585 for Lynn and Sharon Kandel’s sending and support
Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).
We are back in Juba! We had an extended stay in the States due to fighting that broke out in Juba this past July. This was a three-day period of intense fighting all over the city. The moderator of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) felt it best for us to delay our return until it was a little more settled in the city, and we are thankful for his advice.
We arrived back, not knowing what we would find as far as the cost of things in the market, security, and who all had returned to the city after fleeing to Kenya and Uganda. Things are not easy here for the South Sudanese. Inflation is going crazy and it is hard for people who are paid in South Sudanese pounds to be able to buy the things they need, like food, and still pay rent. Even those in the camps are having a hard time buying anything extra. I have so much to learn from our friends here who give what they have even when they have almost nothing.
It was a warm welcome back! And not just the temperature. People were happy to see that we were not afraid to come back and that our presence here might mean things will get better. It was wonderful to see that the Nile Theological College was having classes again and that all but two of their students had returned.
We also came back to a change in location of the church offices. We knew the move could happen while we were gone, so we were excited to get back and see the offices. No longer are four desks pushed close together in one room! The moderator has his own office and a secretary! I am not sure who is happier, the moderator or the others who
shared an office with him. Now people can continue with their work while the moderator meets with people in private. The other nice thing is that these offices have air-conditioning!
The PCOSS office employees were in Kenya for a workshop when we arrived, but returned a week later. It was so wonderful to see for ourselves that they were all ok, and then to sit and listen to their stories of how they spent the three days of fighting. Prayer was the main thing on everyone’s agenda during that time—prayer for safety, prayer that the leaders would call a halt to the fighting, and prayers for a return to some form of a more peaceful climate.
The staff members of the South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project (SSEPP) have had to rethink what we can do during this time. At first, I admit, it seemed a little hopeless, but then after talking with the church leaders I realized that there is always hope, and always something that we can be doing each and every day. There are still workshops and trainings that can be held. The big news is that one of our partners, Across, has been able to go to Pochalla and start a mobile teacher training program!! This has been long awaited and we are all thrilled that it is happening now. There are four Yei Teacher Training College students in Pochalla who have had to put school on hold since the college closed due to fighting, but look how God will use them to help with the training in their hometown! I think this is a wonderful way for these men to practice their own training and even get more experience through helping to get the Across program off the ground.
Another way we see God at work is through the women of South Sudan. Women are stepping up to start a movement both through the church and through government programs to bring peace back to their country through a grassroots initiative. They feel that the only way to bring peace is for the women to speak up and tell the men to stop the senseless killing. They walk around Juba on the weekends praying in the streets and asking people to pray with them, and finding out who needs help. When possible, they go out to different areas of the country and talk to people about peace. These are very determined women, women who are tired of loved ones being killed and their country being torn apart. Please pray with them that they can have the impact they desire.
Thank you so much for the wonderful time we had at each of the churches we visited! It was a great chance to get to know those who are supporting us and put faces to names. Thank you all for your continued prayers and support! Without you, we could not be here. As we told you all when we were in the States—we love email and we promise we will write back.
I think it is important for you to know that the people of South Sudan are also praying for the U.S.A. during this time of election and after.
We are happy to be back!
Yours in Christ,
Sharon and Lynn Kandel
Please read this important message from Tony De La Rosa, Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1b-2, NRSV)
Dear Friend of the Presbyterian Mission Agency:
Thank you for your prayers and for your financial support of Lynn and Sharon Kandel this year, and any previous year. We hear from our mission co-workers how much your prayerful financial support has meant to them. Please know that you are a vital part of ministries throughout South Sudan.
Even as I thank you, I want to let you know that this is a critical time for our congregations and all people of faith to commit themselves to support mission co-workers like Lynn and Sharon. Our global church partners greatly value their service, and you well know how important this ministry is in building connections between the body of Christ in the U.S. and South Sudan.
We have historically relied on endowment interest and the general offering from congregations to sustain the vital work of all of our mission workers. Those sources of funding have greatly diminished. It is only through the gifts of individuals and congregations that we are able to keep Sharon and Lynn doing the life-giving work God called them to do. A year ago, in May 2015, we had to recall some mission workers due to a lack of funding. World Mission communicated the challenge to you, and you responded decisively and generously. Through your response, we heard the Spirit remind us, “Fear not!”
Today, I’m asking you to consider an additional gift for this year, and to increase the gift you may consider for 2017. Sending and support costs include not only salary but also health insurance and retirement contributions, orientation, language training, housing, travel to the country of service, children’s education, emergency evacuation costs, and visa/passport costs.
My heartfelt thanks for your prayers and support of our Presbyterian mission co-workers. In the coming season, we will celebrate God’s sending of the Christ child, the source of the good news we share. May you experience anew the hope, peace, joy, and love that are ours because “perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18).
Thank you for saying “yes” to love.
With you in Christ,
Tony De La Rosa
Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
You may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.