After a hopeful start to its existence, South Sudan seems determined to undermine itself. Within two years of independence, civil strife erupted. Political rivalry between the President and his Deputy, as well as ethnic conflict between their tribes (Dinka and Nuer, respectively), escalated into a civil war that has contributed as many as 400,000 excess deaths. More than 4 million people were displaced and South Sudan’s desperately-needed development regressed. Thank God for a peace agreement in 2020. Pray also for the resulting “Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity”. Only true repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation can overcome the spirit of bitterness and revenge. Pray for God to work miracles in the hearts of the leaders and of the people.
South Sudan is the world’s newest country. The nation was born in a great spirit of unity, happiness, and hope. Thank God for this freedom from the long, painful domination by the north. Sudan is now mainly Arab and Muslim, while South Sudan is mainly Black and Christian. Pray for the Church to have a good influence in society and leadership, to make life better for all people. A country with a large Christian majority should surely not be beset by such violence, strife, poverty, and chaos. We echo the words of the final line of the national anthem, “Oh God, bless South Sudan!”
The civil war between south and north lasted for 21 years. Most of the 1.5 to 2 million killed were from the south. Half a million fled the country. Another 4 million fled their homes at some point. Every family in South Sudan suffers lasting effects from the horrors of war. The dispute over territory and oil continues with the north (Sudan), so the violence and bitterness continue.
South Sudan is one of the world’s poorest nations. Only 27% of the people (and only 8% of the women) can read and write. The country has more land than Spain and Portugal combined, but only has 100 km (62 miles) of paved roads. Less than 2% of the people have access to clean water, only 6% have access to improved sanitation, and 33% suffer from chronic hunger. Rates for the number of mothers who die in childbirth, for infant mortality, and for immunization against disease are the worst in the world.
Christianity grew rapidly over the past 20 years amid violence, warfare, persecution, and even genocide. Much of the country is Catholic, but other denominations include the Anglican Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the African Inland Church. Many became Christians as a rejection of Islam, which the North imposed on them. Most new believers previously followed traditional religions and spirit worship, and many need to learn much more about the gospel, the Bible, and Christian life and faith. Pray for good Bible teaching and leadership training. Pray that the churches will disciple young Christians to maturity in Christ.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.