A bishop in South Sudan has written an open letter to church and government leaders, calling for an end to bribery and violence. In the letter, Bishop of the Diocese of Malek, Peter Jon Mayom, condemns corruption and calls for all Christians, particularly leaders, to set examples of holiness.
Bishop Peter encourages the Church to take the current ceasefire in South Sudan as opportunity turn away from former patterns of behaviour. “It is time to tell the leaders, whether in the Church or in the government, that the Lord God has given us a chance for peace and reconciliation,” he writes. “It is a chance to change and put things right. It is not time to loot and kill innocent people anymore. It is time to deliver service to our citizens.”
He believes that South Sudan as a whole needs to change its ways, and is convinced that the Church must set an example for the government. “We need a change of heart and mind, to turn to God and it is the Church’s job to do that.”
In his experience, leadership in South Sudan is an opportunity to take advantage of public resources. Bishop Peter reminds readers of the Biblical reaction to corruption, such as bribes. He goes on to meditate on the impact of extortion on a society. In his mind, the erosion of moral values, loss of public trust, the undermining of democracy and oppression are direct consequences of this kind of behaviour.
“In Matthew 5:13, the Bible says ‘You are like the salt for all mankind. But if the salt loses its saltiness, there is no way to made it salty again. It becomes worthless, to it is thrown out and people trample on it.’” Bishop Peter explains. “As salt, we should learn the principles for facing a corrupt system or people.”
Bishop Peter composed the letter after his experience representing the Episcopal Church of South Sudan at the South Sudan Council of Churches. Reflecting on his own experience facing corruption, Bishop Peter admitted to feeling powerless at times. “I ended up fighting a war I couldn’t win and I felt discouraged.”
At the same time, Bishop Peter recognises that his message won’t be easy for some to hear. He does hope that it encourages others.
“Most of the people who do not benefit from corruption—whether in the government or in the Church—will be happy with it,” he said. “Those who do benefit will not be happy with me. Particularly those I have confronted directly.”
He hopes that in time this letter will cause a change of heart on all levels of society, including the government. “I know that I am whistle blower. Let anyone who has the spiritual capacity amongst the South Sudanese listen to it and act decisively.”