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  • Jenny Smyth

Bringing Hope to South Sudan

Billy’s Blog May 2019

The church: God’s embedded people: God’s chosen courier of hope

After a roller coaster 3 weeks Billy is now safely home from his second Companion Placement in Yei Vocational Training College, South Sudan. Confronted with a seemingly impossible set of circumstances and insurmountable difficulties, Bishop Hilary unwaveringly stuck to the plan to reopen the college on 29th April and an opening ceremony was held and classes began. The staff and students worked together under the direction of Morris, the college principal, with Billy’s assistance in matters practical and professional.

Each day Billy worked with the college folks to rewire, install solar lights and power, repair roofs, mend fences, assemble sewing machines, service the pickup, fit new parts to the tractor and source funding. Much remains to be done but a good start has been made. The students have planted some maize and groundnuts and each day see more growth.

Bishop Hilary was so keen to see the college reopen as it is these grass roots signs of improving security that will help the peace process to gain traction. The opportunities for training offer young people a choice of futures, open new possibilities to gain skills, skills needed for rebuilding the community.

Billy noted positive changes in the atmosphere in Yei, evident in contrast to his February visit:

‘A big change in town, more relaxed, more people about, more shops opening each day, really encouraging. I’m convinced it’s the right decision to reopen the VTC at this time…it’s like someone flicked a switch. Yei is coming back to life remarkably fast. I am confident that Bishop Hilary got the timing just right. He is prophetic, To God be the Glory’

Small signs but indicative of people daring to hope, daring to believe that change is possible, that peace and prosperity are on the way. Francis Taban, Diocesan education Secretary commented:

'YVTC is bringing a lot of hope to the people of Yei. People appreciate it opening so much. Life seems to be gaining momentum. Praise God'

South Sudan is at a pivotal moment, people have suffered so many false starts when good intentions have fallen apart in factional fighting wreaking horrendous atrocities on civilians, forcing over a million people to flee as refugees.

The historic meeting of religious and political leaders in Rome, just before Easter, when Pope Francis kissed the feet of the men of war, has spurred new peace efforts and the church leaders are at the centre challenging and encouraging – voices for justice, advocating for those with no voice. Archbishop Justin has spoken out reminding leaders of their God given responsibilities.

The church forging a pathway to peace – please pray that there will be no more false starts, but a strong and lasting peace. Bishop Hilary hopes that Billy will return in the autumn to lend a helping hand once again.

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