In a calm and factual manner, using packed PowerPoint slides, Rev. Patrick Jok Ding Wic of the Sudanese Reformed Church presented both the hope and the horror of South Sudan to synodical delegates and guests gathered in the Arts and Communications building at Trinity Christian College.
Jok briskly walked the audience through a century of Sudanese history. As he explained, it is a history of war. He said, “My father grew up in war. I grew up in war. My son is growing up in war.”
Recently there appeared to be a new reason for hope for an end of the conflict. In 2011, South Sudan became a new country, independent from Sudan. The hope was that this change would mark and end to the decades-long civil war that had ravaged the region.
That hope was soon dashed. By 2103, South Sudan was plunged into civil war along tribal lines. To date, Jok said, 100,000 people have been killed. Millions more have been displaced, many becoming refugees in neighboring nations. Much of the population faces daily hunger.
Jok was attending Synod 2017 as an ecumenical guest from the Sudanese Reformed Church. He said that this denomination has emerged and grown in the midst of this violence. The church began in 1992 with a single house church. Five years later, in 1997, it had grown to four congregations.
By 2005, with 500 members, the church organized as a denomination subscribing to the Reformed confessions. In 2009, the Sudanese Reformed Church held its first synod. The church has now grown to 6,000 members with 12 ordained pastors and 20 evangelists.
This new church has grown largely without much in the way of outside support, although they did receive several bibles from a CRC in Philadelphia. It has been hard. In the ongoing civil war, they have lost 27 members, 2 pastors, and 5 evangelists. Three church buildings have been burnt down. Seven properties have been looted.
The leaders of this brave church have decided to stay. At a trauma healing conference sponsored by Resonate Global Mission, formerly Christian Reformed World Missions, in Nairobi, Kenya, the leaders decided to go back. They said, “If we die, we die in the Lord.”
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