Posts Tagged ‘South Sudan’

Standing firm in the face of attack

Thursday, March 16th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

Often, as a translation project nears completion it faces increased spiritual attack. The Keliko New Testament project from South Sudan is one that has faced far greater challenges than normal and yet the team are committed to reaching their goal: a finished New Testament.

Renewed fighting in South Sudan last July near the capital Juba brought new insecurities. Branch director Jackie Marshall picks up the story:

‘As the rebels left Juba after the clashes here, they moved westward towards Congo and this has ended up destabilising areas of Equatoria which have been quite stable and peaceful for many years. One of our translation and literacy projects is with the Keliko people who live close to the border with Uganda and Congo. Now many people have fled to live in refugee camps in Congo or northern Uganda including the families of two of the Keliko translators, Enos and Ezekiah, and Elisa Ayani, the Keliko literacy worker.

Elisa recently made a trip back into his area (through Congo as that is the safest way in) to see how things were. Unfortunately civilians end up getting caught between government and rebel sides and abused or sometimes killed as a result. I spoke to him on the phone about his trip and he said that the people live with a lot of fear, and communication and transport has become much more difficult. There are only three primary schools out of more than 20 still somewhat operating. Most people (including churches) have moved away from main paths or roads and try to live and farm deeper in the forest.

The Keliko translators have now left their wives in northern Uganda to return to Juba and are doing final reviews of books to lead up to typesetting in the next few months. It now seems as if they will have to launch their New Testament in northern Uganda rather than in their home area.’

Praise God that since Christmas, security in Juba has been good and it is a safe place for the Keliko translators to work.

Please pray:

  • for an end to all political unrest in South Sudan. Pray for all those who have been caught up in the conflict and are now living in refugee camps.
  • that the translation team, churches and God’s people would have the power and strength to live lives of love, grace and truth in this fractured society.
  • for the Keliko translators in the final checks before typesetting and printing of the New Testament. Ask God to help them produce a natural, clear and accurate translation.

Around the world many translation projects are facing challenges and need your prayers. Find out more about them by subscribing to our magazine Words for Life which is packed full of interesting articles and gives a daily prayer request as well.

Seeing with blind eyes

Thursday, March 9th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

South Sudan is a struggling nation. Most recently it has hit the news as the first country in six years to face famine due to instability, fighting and economic collapse. Yet in the face of all these challenges God has enabled his work to continue and one people group called the Baka will soon have access to the word of God.

The launch of the New Testament and Genesis will take place in the home area of the Baka people in Western Equatoria on Sunday 12th March. Doug who worked with the project for a number of years explains why this is such as significant milestone:

‘Most Bakas are churchgoers, but many are still influenced by traditional animistic religious beliefs and practices. This is due largely to the lack of Scripture in their own language. Although Baka church leaders have conducted prayers, singing and preaching in the Baka language for a number of years, they have had to give the Scripture readings in languages that many of their parishioners understand only imperfectly, so they do not fully understand what the Scriptures really say.  

For this reason the Baka New Testament translation project was begun in the early 1980s. It would have been completed years ago, but decades of civil war have brought many delays and hardships. Nevertheless, the translation team has persevered, encouraged by people’s response to the early drafts of Scripture portions.

One old man said that previously when he heard Scripture read in another language, it was like seeing something far off in the distance — fuzzy and indistinct; but hearing it in his own language brought it up close — clear and detailed. A blind woman even said that when she heard Scripture in the Baka language, it was as though she could see it with her eyes!’

Please pray:

  • that the launch will be a wonderful day of celebration and that a lasting desire will be imparted to the believers to study the Scriptures in their language and to use them for spiritual growth and for outreach
  • for safe transportation of people and Bibles to the launch
  • for the Baka people to be enriched by the word of God and find comfort, healing and new life.

*SIL is our primary partner

Subscribe to our free magazine Words for Life to find out more about Bible translation and for daily prayer requests to enable more language communities, like the Baka, to receive God’s word in the language that speaks to their hearts.

South Sudan under fire

Thursday, August 4th, 2016 by Camilla

South Sudan desperately needs our prayers.

Over the past month or so, there have been a number of clashes between the SPLA (government army) and the SPLA-IO (in opposition) soldiers which have led to full-scale fighting in Juba, the capital city.

Due to the unpredictable situation, five members of the Bible translation team in the country were evacuated recently from Juba, and six have stayed behind. A couple of other members have been unable to return.

laarim boy reading scripturesSince this, some normality has returned. The airport has reopened, some public transport is running, some shops and markets are open again and there is some fuel and food coming in from Uganda. The members who have stayed behind have returned to work along with the local staff and translators, but the office closes early to allow people to get home earlier as a safety precaution.

Though there is calm right now, the situation is fragile and it’s a difficult time to plan and make decisions for the future.

Please pray:

  • That God’s people would have the strength to live lives of love, grace and truth in this fractured society.
  • For the leaders of South Sudan to have courage to lead the country into repentance and reconciliation and a vision to serve all the peoples of the country. Pray also for wisdom and persistence for the international community in their interaction and interventions (eg African Union and United Nations).
  • For different leaders in SIL* (the crisis management team, key staff, the translation team leaders, SIL administrators outside of the country) to have wisdom to understand these times and to know the right way forward for the ministry of Bible translation and language development to the different communities of South Sudan in these circumstances.
  • For all SIL staff including those out of the country to know God’s peace in their situation (being removed suddenly from your usual place of living and work, and waiting, is not easy).

*Our primary partner organisation.

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Urgent prayer for South Sudan

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016 by Jo Johnson

A crisis situation has developed in South Sudan just as the nation passes the fifth anniversary of its formation. As the South Sudanese should be celebrating, serious violence has broken out. We are praying – will you join us?

Please pray for the SIL* team, Bible translators and staff in Juba, South Sudan. Over the weekend there has been serious fighting between forces loyal to the President, Salva Kiir, and forces loyal to the First Vice President, Riek Machar.

Currently it is unsafe for anyone to move around Juba and the airport is closed. This means our staff are not able to leave. They have been advised to remain in lock-down and the situation is being closely monitored. Plans are being made for a possible evacuation when the situation allows.

One member of staff sent this request:

‘We cherish your prayers for us in trusting God for each day and his help for many civilians who are on the run from the fighting and with little to sustain them. Please also pray that the South Sudan leaders might be able to find a way of peace.

Please also pray:

  • for protection and provision for all staff
  • for wisdom for those who are making decisions about evacuation and security measures
  • that other underlying tensions will not provoke further violence but rather that peace will quickly be restored

To help you keep on praying over the next few days, check out BBC News for up-to-date news reports.

*Wycliffe’s primary partner

Hope in a hard context

Thursday, June 30th, 2016 by Jo Johnson

Jackie originally worked as a literacy specialist. Now as director for the work in South Sudan she doesn’t have much time to focus on literacy work but she is able to support literacy work with one people group, the Keliko. She recently let us know some exciting developments that are happening with this project in a nation that until recently was ravaged by conflict.

Jackie and her husband Wes
Jackie and her husband Wes

‘The Keliko are in the last stages of their New Testament translation but since the beginning of their project around 2000 they have also been doing literacy work both with primary schools and through churches. One of the men who has been involved from the beginning and leads the work in the home area is called Elisa Ayan Cosmas. He gives part of his time to literacy work and the rest of the time he farms with his family in order to support himself.

The school system is now facing many challenges because the government has virtually seized up, but since 2011 Elisa and another team member have run a literacy and Scripture use workshop for different kinds of church leaders (pastors, women’s groups, and other lay leaders). Each year they helped build the skills of the same group of people, helping them to be better readers, spellers and writers of Keliko and to use different methods for Scripture engagement, Bible study, dramas etc.

Elisa teaching a big book
Elisa teaching a big book

Last December Elisa gave this same group some introductory teacher’s training which covered how to teach the ABC book and use big book Bible stories. Now most of this group have either added a literacy component to their Sunday school class or added adult literacy classes during the week (but using these easy reading Bible stories).’

Join us in praising God for each person who is now able to read Keliko and therefore have access to the word of God in their heart language! Please pray:

  • for these church leaders as they minister to their people in different ways.
  • that they might be encouraged by the refresher training they are about to receive.

Watch Obura Bible Reprint by The PNG Experience to find out the difference literacy made to a community in Papua New Guinea.

Follow us on Twitter @wycliffeuk_pray for daily prayer requests and more inspiration to pray for Bible translation.

Pray for South Sudan!

Friday, January 15th, 2016 by Camilla

South Sudan needs our prayers now more than ever.

The country is facing a humanitarian crisis. Political conflict has led to displacement, violence and massive food shortages. South Sudan remains one of the least developed countries in the world, and a lack of formal infrastructure, including roads, makes it difficult to transport food and supplies. Almost 800 000 people have fled, but the majority of citizens are trapped in the country. Almost four million people are at risk of starvation. Read more on the general situation at mercycorps.org.

Despite this, Wycliffe and SIL* are currently working in nine full time translation projects and six more languages are in the early stages of Bible translation. Five New Testaments with Old Testament portions are due to be typeset in the next 12 to 18 months. Alongside this, Wycliffe and SIL are supporting linguistic, literacy and Scripture use work with these communities.

Most staff and project members in South Sudan are based in the capital, Juba – about 17 expats and 40 South Sudanese. As the country lacks infrastructure, security challenges mean this is an easier way of working. But the obvious disadvantage is that most translators live apart from their families.

Wycliffe and SIL staff are mostly affected with regard to general security and petrol shortages (petrol shortages can mean difficulties in local, everyday transport as well as affecting long-distance travel for translation workshops, etc). Road travel has also become more difficult because of decreased security. Staff have been subject to three armed attempted SIL compound break-ins between Sept-Nov (one fairly successful), various disturbances in the night (shooting in the neigbourhoods, etc), and near misses in terms of road security, but each member of staff has been kept safe so far. We praise the Lord for that and that they can continue to be there. Right now the peace process between the government and the opposition group is progressing and looks hopeful – but there are a number of other rebel groups not included in that.

Pray for South Sudan:

  • Praise God that the translation teams have been kept safe and ask for God’s continued protection over each member of each team.
  • Pray for deep repentance amongst different groups for wrongs done to each other and church and other leaders with courage to work and speak for the good of the whole country.
  • Pray for the Scripture due to be printed over the next 12-18 months, for God’s protection and blessing for those translation teams especially.

*SIL is Wycliffe’s primary partner organisation.

New Words for Life out now

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 by Hannah

The latest edition of Words for Life, Wycliffe’s news and prayer magazine is available now. In this edition:

  • Cover of Wycliffe's magazineThe vital steps between completing a translation and launching a New Testament.
  • An on-the-ground update from turbulent South Sudan.
  • A fresh look at the Parable of the Sower.
  • And answering the question, ‘Do we still need missionaries?’

… along with much more. There’s enough prayer information to keep you praying for four months, plenty to celebrate as we report on some of the latest Bible launches, and a challenge to get involved for you and your church.

Words for Life is available to download now. Not enough? Visit our Words for Life Extra page for videos, posters and more information on things mentioned in the magazine.

Wounded people on the road to healing

Friday, September 26th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope. Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.” (Psalm 119:49-50).

God’s word is full of comfort, guidance, wisdom, and strength.  How often do we turn to it, as Christians in the West? Yet many people living in the most difficult contexts around the world – war zones and areas devastated by natural disasters – do not have the word of God in their own language.  They need God’s comfort the most, but where can they find it?

South Sudanese participants in a previous trauma healing workshopOne extremely useful tool to reach those most hurt by the crises around the world are trauma healing workshops. These workshops seek to train local church leaders; to equip them to be God’s agents of inner healing for those who have suffered severe trauma and loss through war, violent crimes, natural disasters and epidemic disease.

Reports from a recent workshop in Central African Republic (CAR) show how important this ministry is:

“There was an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the trauma healing through stories. People loved that they were telling stories in the mother tongue! Deeply wounded people began on the road to healing. People felt heard and understood. The best reaction was people understanding through the story of the creation that God loves us and that we are made in his image. We are not worthless. With all the trauma happening here, people feel like they are worthless and there is no hope for them. God is restoring hope through these stories in the mother tongue.”

Will you commit to praying for trauma healing workshops which help whole communities start on the road to recovery?

Upcoming Trauma Healing workshops are being held:

  • 22-26 September in Juba, South Sudan in partnership with the Bible Society.
  • 10-22 October in Juba refugee camp on the border of Sudan and South Sudan using oral storying in partnership with The Seed Company (TSC), working with refugees from the Nuba mountains.
  • 10-29 November in Bangui, CAR, again with TSC. Working with different groups using both the classic model and oral storying.

Please pray:

  • For the right participants at the Juba workshop; those who will be capable of helping others.
  • For the physical stamina for everyone involved in the refugee camp and for peace in the area. This seminar is physically demanding as the facilitators stay in tents in the camp.
  • For Bangui, that the facilitators will be allowed to go. They never know until the week before as it depends on the security situation.
  • For peace for CAR.

Find out more about Trauma Healing.

International Literacy Day

Monday, September 8th, 2014 by Ruth

For over 40 years now, UNESCO has been celebrating International Literacy Day, reminding the international community that literacy is a human right and the foundation of all learning.  This video from UNESCO South Sudan gives a profoundly touching insight into the struggles of a nation facing staggering illiteracy rates.

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The South Sudanese have suffered the deep disruption of war, resulting in closed or destroyed schools and a generation of children left illiterate in its wake.  Add to that the challenges of educating nomadic communities, constantly on the move in pursuit of grazing land. Yet there is no doubt that leaders in South Sudan see literacy as key to bringing peace and hope to their nation.

For the illiterate now – many of whom are ex-combatants – job opportunities are extremely limited.  As one man remarked of violence still prevalent within South Sudan,

‘A hungry man is an angry man.’

Yet teacher Jacob Oruru and many others like him believe literacy is the answer.

‘Literacy helps to reduce violence… because once you are literate, you know what is good and what is bad.’

All the more so when Scripture becomes available in the mother tongue, as Wycliffe and partner organisations work with local translators worldwide to develop minority languages, creating alphabets, dictionaries, health and educational materials.  Ultimately the New Testament or entire Bible becomes available in a way that communities can understand, and in a way that transforms hearts and minds.

Not by bread alone

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 by Hannah

The region of South Sudan where the Murle people live is one where many people have been displaced by the internal violence. Murle cattle herders, though, have continued to move their herds from place to place, finding sustenance. It’s not only the cows that need to be fed, though…

blog-cowThis post first appeared on Wycliffe USA’s blog. Read the original here.

Recently a group of SIL* literacy workers went to the Murle area to train teachers to conduct literacy classes in cattle camps. The new teachers lived and moved with the group, conducting classes when people had fewer chores or activities.

Two SIL workers and a man who had been on the Murle New Testament translation team conducted teacher training sessions for thirteen Murle men. Many of the attendees had their New Testament copies, which they used and read fluently during morning devotions. They also shared songs and sang prayers in their own musical style. In addition to teaching literacy, some of the Murle men wanted to share the Gospel in the cattle camps. The staff demonstrated and practiced different teaching methods with the men and had them write short stories.

One morning during devotions, a Murle man named Marko glanced longingly at the Murle New Testament that lay on a table. He asked the staff where he could get a copy. “They are out of print,” one of the literacy workers replied. “Do you not have one?”

“I had one,” Marko answered. “But I lost it when we were running from the fighting.”

The literacy team gave Marko their resource copy and marveled at how much this book was like sustenance to him, perhaps even more so than the physical food he needed to live.

*SIL International is one of Wycliffe’s primary partners

The Murle New Testament is going to be reprinted soon. There’s even talk of an Old Testament translation. If you want to share about the need for the Bible to be translated in people’s mother languages, you can get involved with the work Wycliffe does in lots of ways. Explore some here.