Stories shared, help still needed
by Debbie Braaksma | Special to Presbyterian News Service
SOUTH SUDAN — What has happened in South Sudan in the past two weeks is, in many ways, beyond comprehension. It’s hard for those of us in the United States to wrap our minds around the pain and trauma this young nation has suffered. I have shared considerable information about this over this past week but to “bring it closer to home” I want to share the story of two individuals and their families with strong connections to PC(USA) who have been personally affected. The Rev. Debbie Braaksma, Africa area coordinator with Presbyterian World Mission.
The Rev. Minasona
Treatable disease in dire circumstances
James and Florence Evanson are close friends and actively involved in Beechmont Presbyterian Church in Louisville. They are both Sunday school teachers and two of their five children, Mercy and Faith, are key members of the church’s youth group.
The pain of the recent conflict has affected the Evanson family directly. James’ uncle, the Rev. Minasona Lomugun, an Episcopal priest, served the Korok congregation in Juba. He went to the best hospital in the country, Juba Teaching Hospital for a very treatable disease, typhoid. He should have received treatment and returned home; however, he died because his medical care ended prematurely. It was impossible for the doctors and nurses to attend to him because the hospital’s maternity wing was bombed, there was no water and, at the same time, it had scores upon scores of injured victims of the fighting that also needed care. James and Florence represent many at Beechmont Presbyterian Church who have gone through such painful loss and grief.
Gunfire at night
Simon Meen served as an education officer with a Christian nonprofit organization, Across, one of Presbyterian World Mission’s partners in South Sudan. We received the following message from the organization: “On 15 July 2016 between 9 and 10 o’clock at night, one of our long-serving Across staff in Adol by the name of Simon Meen was attacked and shot dead by an unknown gunman. It was reported by his wife that Simon was traveling home on a motorbike Friday night and as he approached the gate of his house he stopped to pull the motorbike inside. That was the moment he was attacked and the gunman ran away. His wife and other family members who were inside the house heard gunshots and came out to the scene to try and rescue him, however, he died shortly. He was hit by several bullets in his back resulting in severe abdominal and back injuries.”
Presbyterian mission co-worker Nancy McGaughey and long-term volunteer Ingrid Reneau worked closely with Simon at Across. Nancy writes, “Simon was dedicated to improving education for the children of Rumbek East County, Lakes State. He continually sought to expand his own knowledge so he could do better training teachers. He had a great sense of humor and entertained us during lunch with stories of his experiences as a child soldier. South Sudan is poorer for the senseless loss of this humble man.” Ingrid shares, “I worked closely with Simon … I can hear his voice so clearly. He was ex-SPLA, snatched as a boy to serve as a soldier. During the relative peace, he came to work with Across as an early child development teacher. He was a tender-hearted, genial, wise Christian young man, husband and father.”
Please keep the families of Rev. Lomugun and Simon Meen, our church partners, mission co-workers and all of the people of South Sudan in your prayers. As mission co-worker Rev. Nancy Smith-Mather shared in a recent update, “There is a long road ahead, yet the church’s history is one of perseverance, and the message of God’s radical forgiveness and incredible hope cannot be silenced, even by the sounds of bombs and deafening gunfire. Somehow, the whispered prayers of those lying on the ground echo much louder and hold much more power in this God-created universe than any man-made weapon. And for that miracle, we give thanks.”
To meet critical needs for education and peacebuilding in South Sudan, make an online gift to the South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project. Checks, payable to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), may also be mailed to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), PO Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700. Please write E052172-1 in the memo line of your check to ensure it is designated for this project.
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Categories: Advocacy & Social Justice, Presbyterian Mission Agency, World Mission
Tags: armed conflict, disaster relief, Ingrid Reneau, James and Florence Evanson, juba, Nancy McGaughey, peace building, Rev. Minasona Lomugun, Simon Meen, south sudan
Ministries: Compassion, Peace and Justice, World Mission