Pray for Swords to become Plowshares in Sudan
By Craig Cole
December 9, 2010
Vienna, Virginia - One month from today, on Jan. 9, the country of Sudan will vote on a referendum that, if passed, will effectively create two new countries: North Sudan and South Sudan. This referendum is one of the provisions of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended Sudan's most recent civil war.
There is deep uncertainty about what will happen if the South votes to separate. Will the war start again after five years of relative peace?
In October, the Archbishop of Sudan, Daniel Deng Bul, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, who is also the patron of Five Talents International, met as part of an advocacy tour to encourage governments to support the peaceful referendum. The archbishops explained that the critical issues related to the referendum include delays in voter registration, tensions in the border regions, and the future for some 4 million refugees from the south who are currently living in the north.
Williams talked about the danger of Sudan "sleepwalking towards disaster ... if action does not continue from the international community."
During this time of Advent and Christmas, as you gather with your families to pray and reflect, include a prayer of petition for Sudan. Episcopal and Anglican leaders around the world have called for intense prayer.
Five Talents is deeply involved in supporting the Episcopal Church of Sudan by assisting both the north and the south to fight poverty and create jobs. Economic development is a tool for sustainability and stability. The Literacy Financial Education Program (LFEP) that began in August is a vital component for the local church and the future of the communities it serves. Five Talents, in partnership with the Mothers' Union International, the Mothers' Union in Sudan, and World Concern, is implementing the LFEP in six dioceses (including Khartoum in the north). This will develop the capacity of the poor to develop reading skills, learn business planning and begin to access financial services using savings and credit groups.
The program is unique because it is primarily run by the Sudanese themselves and in four years is expected to reach 30,000 clients, primarily women, in six dioceses in the Episcopal Church of Sudan. Building indigenous leadership is important for the survival of the program if violence does erupt after the referendum vote. While
other non-Sudan-based organizations may have to pull out their field workers and bring them back to their respective homes, this is not how the LFEP program is structured.
The church and its people will remain and the plan is for the LFEP program to continue. The Episcopal Church of Sudan continued to function courageously during decades of civil war supporting the people who had nowhere to turn and suffered cruelty and death. The church will be there for its people again no matter the outcome of the vote Jan. 9.
Will you stand with me and our brothers and sisters in Christ in the worldwide Anglican Communion and make a commitment to pray each day with your family and friends and work colleagues for this very important vote? Pray for peace and reconciliation and that the love of Christ will shine forth during these precious days ahead. Pray for the leaders of the church and the diplomats who are working tirelessly to ensure a peaceful outcome.
When I was in Wau Diocese in June, I met a group of blacksmiths in the village market. They were making rudimentary farm implements; hoes, pick axes and shovels. We asked them where they got the steel to make the tools. They said the steel came from old tanks, trucks and airplanes that had been used during the war. Immediately, the verse from Isaiah 2:4 came to mind:
"He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."
Pray that the blacksmiths in Wau be an example for the rest of the country and that the passage from Isaiah rings true this Advent and Christmas season here and in Sudan.
----Craig Cole is President and CEO of Five Talents
Established in 1999, Five Talents International has provided funding for business training and thousands of loans, ranging from $50 to $300, in 14 countries across Africa, Asia and Central and South America. A majority of loan recipients are women. Five Talents' ongoing work is supported by a staff based in Vienna, Va., and an office in London. Hundreds of volunteers across the United States and United Kingdom participate in the organization. For more information and to donate, visit www.FiveTalents.org.
For information on changes to VOL comments, please see this FAQ entry.
comments powered by Disqus
Follow VOL on Social Networks: