Photo Credit: Province of South Sudan Facebook
[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] Steps towards lasting peace in South Sudan took place last week when political leaders joined in prayer with church leaders to reaffirm their commitment to peace, unity and reconciliation.
A national prayer breakfast was organised on 19 September by the South Sudan Council of Churches under the theme of verses from Isaiah 43, "Don't cling to the events of the past, watch for the new things I am going to do, it's happening already."
The Archbishop of South Sudan, Justin Badi Arama, preached what he described as “a message of love” to the church leaders, senior government officials and members of the opposition who all attended the event at the Presidential Palace in Juba.
He said: “In a special way we are asking God to forgive us the leaders and citizens of South Sudan. It is time for renewal and purification. South Sudan needs purification to move forward. South Sudan needs all its citizens to forgive each other.”
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir vowed to unite the country and reaffirmed the commitment to partner with opposition leader Riek Machar to restore peace and stability, as efforts to form a unity government in November gather momentum.
National Coordinator of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan’s Justice, Peace & Reconciliation Committee (JPRC), the Revd Stephen Mayuen Mou, said the Committee was continuing its efforts to engage communities, government and opposition members, to work towards reconciling people with one another for sustainable peace.
He said: “Everybody in South Sudan including the government and the opposition are tired of war, but a lack of trust between the President and opposition leaders remains something to worry about.”
The world's youngest nation, South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013. A peace deal signed in 2015 collapsed after renewed violence in July 2016. In September 2018, the warring South Sudanese parties signed a revitalised peace deal with the aim of forming a transitional government.
Stephen Mayuen Mou and his committee continue to organise training and workshops with religious leaders in different areas of the country, helping them work through issues around peace, reconciliation and healing.
He said: “I hope to see a unity government formed in the next few months while JPRC continues to join in efforts to reconcile, unite, heal and build trust through round table talking as a way to improve social conditions of individual South Sudanese and their families and eventually stabilizing South Sudan.”