Lessons In Hope From South Sudan
In March, Bishop Tandema set up his C-19 plan to help 100 of the most vulnerable people with handwashing resources, essential food items and C-19 prevention awareness. With the funding CMSI could offer from the C-19 Response Appeal he was able to buy soap and salt. However, the funds weren't enough purchase the rice, beans and cooking oil they had hoped to be able to distribute.
Bishop Tandema was able to train a team to take prevention education to many people because he managed to borrow a megaphone rather than buying one, as he had hoped to do. He was able to reach some areas, but not others, because the bicycles which were part of the plan couldn’t be facilitated by the available funds.
Six hundred households were reached with prevention messages and one hundred received soap and salt. Bishop Tandema expressed his sincere thanks to all who made it possible for CMSI to send financial assistance during lockdown.
Should I have ended the story there?
God’s people in South Sudan were able to provide some much-needed help to vulnerable families. God’s people in Ireland, through CMSI, were able to play a part. That seems like good news.
But it’s only part of the story.
After all, the Church in Olo could only do half of what they planned and CMSI couldn't do more to help? The families didn’t receive food that the diocese had identified they needed, and their trauma from previous crises has not gone away. If we’re honest, it doesn’t seem to fit the bill as a successful ‘Voices Of Hope’ story.
Sometimes, when we share stories from our partners, we can be tempted to reduce the complex experiences of our Church family to a conclusion that seems happily accomplished. We feel compelled to engineer a happy, hope-filled ending.
In Romans 8:24, we read that ‘a hope that is seen is no hope at all’ – but we’re often guilty of searching for a hope that we can quantify. So, rather than settling for a happy conclusion that is only partially true, I want to reflect on the prayer-filled lives which our partners in South Sudan model.
I wonder if we could find courage to express in prayer, the feelings of frustration, inadequacy, hurt and even compassion fatigue that we sometimes feel? Could it be a better sign of our real hope, to bring the seemingly unsolvable and unending issues we all face, before our Father, rather than reporting a list of project achievements?
Our certain hope is demonstrated in that we persist in prayer together, at the very time that we
cannot see the happy ending. Perhaps it is the disappointed fear filled voices, still determinedly raised in prayer, that are the true voices of hope.
Please pray in hope for peace, healing and provision for the people of Olo Diocese, South Sudan.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”