Initiative supports children’s education and peacebuilding skills
August 9, 2018
A Presbyterian church in Minneapolis is taking steps to help children affected by civil war in South Sudan.
The war began in 2013, two years after South Sudan gained independence. The conflict has displaced more than 5 million people, leading to massive human suffering and widespread famine. As part of its response, the 223rd General Assembly (2018) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) passed a comprehensive overture that provides a robust platform for the denomination’s Office of Public Witness to advocate for an end to the war.
The Rev. John Yor, general secretary of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, attended the Assembly as an ecumenical representative. He told those in attendance that educating children and grassroots peacebuilding training are essential to the peace process now and in the future. He said the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan is committed to that important work.
In the midst of war, the church and its partners are ensuring that teachers are being trained, schools are being established in camps for the displaced, traumatized children and teachers are being healed, and communities are being given the skills to support schools. Presbyterian World Mission supports this work by providing programmatic resources and mission co- workers through the South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project (SSEPP).
Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis has become a key partner in the effort. A mission tithe from the church’s 2014 capital campaign provided the foundation for SSEPP with a $1 million pledge. Half the pledge has already been distributed, and the remaining $500,000 has been offered in matching gifts. For each dollar given to SSEPP, Westminster will contribute an additional 38 cents.
Westminster’s pastor, the Rev. Tim Hart-Andersen, had an opportunity at the Assembly to hear directly from Yor and from Leisa Wagstaff, a Presbyterian World Mission co-worker in South Sudan who accompanies this work. They spoke of the huge difference Westminster’s support is making in the lives of children in South Sudan who would otherwise have no access to education and in the lives others who, with the training provided through the project, are risking their lives to end the war.
“I want to express my deep appreciation for the support and prayers of the PC(USA) for us in this time of crisis. Your help prevents children from becoming child soldiers,” said Yor. “Instead of going to war they are now going to school, and they will be able to support peace by learning Christian values regarding the importance of human life. Please continue to support this project with your prayers and gifts.”
Debbie Braaksma, Area Coordinator, Africa, World Mission, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project
Let us join in prayer for:
Westminster Presbyterian Church Staff
Timothy Hart-Andersen, Senior Pastor
Meghan Gage-Finn, Executive Associate Pastor
Sarah Brouwer, Associate Pastor for Congregational Life
David Shinn, Associate Pastor for Congregational Care
Matthew Johnson, Interim Associate Pastor for Families, Youth and Children
Daniel Vigilante, Associate Pastor of Outreach in Uptown
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Dear God, help us to see the abundant gifts you have given us. Guide us to seek new and creative ways to use these abundant gifts to glorify you and to make the world a better place. Amen.