Some Recent News
The situation in Malakal is horrific. The rebel White Army have again taken control and the rapes, murders, lootings and destruction continue. They have taken no notice at all of the agreement to cease hostilities signed in Addis. We are told over and over again that they do not respect the church, aid workers or the UN. In fact churches have been targeted and women raped and murdered in them.
Please keep praying for Malakal and the whole of the country. Then tensions are high. Things are not improving, rather the reverse.
- Please pray for the over 700,000 displaced people and those seeking to help them.
- Please pray for Christians and Christian ministers of all denominations trying to care for people and teach the message of love.
- Please pray for the international community which, in seeking to try and remain neutral, earning the disapproval of both sides.
- Please pray for expatriates in the country working to help the humanitarian efforts who are put at risk by the negativity felt towards the international community.
- Please continue to pray for the staff and students at BGC struggling to keep the college alive despite the tensions and lack of sufficient resources.
- Give thanks for those who are hear about daily who care deeply and keep themselves informed, irrespective of insufficient reporting.
- Give thanks for those who have and are giving generously to BGC, and the support of the work of the churches with IDPs and in the area of reconciliation.
- Give thanks for the courage and dedication of the Christian leadership in South Sudan.
- Give thanks for the way God speaks to us so powerfully through the Scriptures and the example of Christ's people in the face of such suffering. God is with us. Never has Romans 8:31-39 felt so true.
- A short update. We now have 15 students who have returned. Some are giving excuses but Samuel is trying to be patient with them.
- Esparanza has not yet returned so there is only Samuel and Benjamin in the administration. They certainly need our prayers. However there is a slow but sure recovery for which to give thanks.
- We are still critically low on funds - but are so grateful to you all. Today we have received $500 from Canada and over £800 from the UK. Sadly this doesn't happen everyday! 15 students doesn't sound much but the overheads are high. Juba is no cheap place to live and food is now even higher priced.
- The US are having a day of prayer for South Sudan on 16th February. I attach a prayer sheet from the Diocese of Camino Real which you might find useful.
You will be aware of the way things have gone in South Sudan from the news-broadcasts. Despite the cease-fire agreement many parts of the country will not be back to any kind of regular daily life for a long time to come. Juba has been calm for several weeks but that does not mean that it is by any means back to normal either – especially from the commercial point of view. There are many factors that have changed for BGC and discussions are under-way regarding the organisation of the new semester. We ask you to pray for the principal, Samuel Galuak and the chairman and the governors as they meet this week.
As soon as decisions have been made regarding the new semester I will be back in touch with specific prayer requests.
We rejoice in the kindness and the generosity of our Prayer Partners and friends. We have received a number of valuable gifts and even more valuable new friends over the past month. Thank-you.
I attach two documents that you may not have come across that may be of interest to you.
- The first has been sent on by one of our BGC prayer partners in Canada. It is a letter from the Archbishop in Canada to the Canadian Prime Minister. Click here to see
- The second is a first-hand account of what it has been like in Malakal in Upper Nile State. This town has changed hands more than once and, in fleeing, two hundred people died in a ferry disaster along with who knows how many others caught up in the cross-fire. But as you see from the report the Church continues to worship and minister. The account comes from a Catholic source; reports have been received that the Anglican cathedral has been damaged by fire. Click here to see
I offer the following links that tell some of the story of what the churches are doing to broker peace and reconciliation in South Sudan.
- United States Institute of Peace: South Sudan’s Religious Unity Can Help Heal Wounds of Violence: http://www.usip.org/olivebranch/south-sudan-s-religious-unity-can-help-heal-wounds-of-violence
- Archbishop of Canterbury to visit South Sudan: http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2014/01/abp-welby-to-visit-south-sudan-and-great-lakes-region.aspx
- Interview on BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen/tv/episode/b03v4k3h/
- Our Canadian friends have referred us to an account by Bishop Grant LeMarquand of a visit to Dimma refugee camp for South Sudanese in Western Ethipia. See here
Two Useful Links
Military conflict is ongoing in Malakal and Bor. President Museveni of Uganda has confirmed that Ugandan troops are engaged in the fighting. Ugandan soldiers have been killed. Pray for the talks in Addis. Below are two useful links to news about the current situation in South Sudan, please use them to help you understand what is happening.
A Comment by Rev Jesse Zinc
Rev Jesse visited Bishop Gwynne College and was so impressed by the recent changes that he posted a blog online. Below is a link to that blog post and also a link to some more info about Jesse himself. Thank you for your kind comments.
New Appointments Promise a Bright Future
We give thanks for the successful BGC Board of Governors meeting at the beginning of this month which has worked to address the well-being and future needs of the college.
First they have appointed Samuel Galuak as the Principal of the college. He has been working as acting principal since January and now, with the sad parting of Joseph Taban, after due consideration it has been decided to appoint him as the college principal. Samuel has shown excellent qualities that will forward the vision that he shared with Joseph since September 2011. His experience, combined with his academic ability, make him the ideal candidate for the post. We praise God that we have found such a person for BGC when suitable people are so hard to find in South Sudan.
Secondly, the governors have appointed Revd. John Malesh as Academic Dean. John has MAs in two subjects and has been a visiting lecturer at the college since he returned to Juba in 2011. Before that he was the ECS liaison officer in Kampala where many of us expatriates first met him. John has also worked with Joseph and shared the BGC planning.
Thirdly, after 18 months of searching for the right person for the post of Administrative Secretary, the Board have appointed Mrs Esparanza Emil, Joseph Taban's widow. She is eminently qualified having the right kind of skills and a lot of experience in teaching in a primary school. She is also intimately connected to BGC of course.
Offering Esparanza this post also solves the problem of her future. She can continue in the college accommodation and it gives her a reasonable income to buy food and medicine and sufficient to pay the school fees of her three children at present.
These appointments means that Samuel has the support of two new full-time people in the college to add to the very experienced Benjamin Disi as logistic officer.
Eight new students have succeeded in passing the Special Entrance Exam and are ready to begin at the end of this month. Sadly a lot more failed than passed – we were hoping for a bigger intake this year. But the standard of English required is high and it is difficult for students in the remoter centres to get the tuition and practice in English they need.
The national government reshuffle last month seems to have gone off without any trouble. Although it took some people by surprise (especially the scale of it) it has met with fairly broad approval in the country. There is amicability on all sides and all have agreed that the President acted within his constitutional powers. The army in South Sudan, unlike Egypt and elsewhere, appears to keep well out of these kind of politics. The general impression is that South Sudan, despite its being such a young republic, is so far proving to be remarkably democratic despite its history of tribal differences. The churches and Christian message so widely heard in South Sudan is definitely impacting on the mood of the country.
Bishop Gwynne College is sad to announce that Rev Joseph Taban, Principal and much loved colleague died on the evening of May 21st. Please pray for his soul, Esparanza and the family he leaves behind.
Prayer Needed for Archbishop Daniel
Prayers need for Archbishop Daniel Deng and his new reconciliation committee. He is a very brave man to take it on. We earnestly pray for success.
Our Plans For the Future of BGC
See Below two PDF files with news about our plans for the future development of our college here in Juba and the plan of the college laid out itself.
Happy New Year 2013.
Your prayers have made a big difference to BGC and beyond in South Sudan and Sudan in 2012. It is important that we keep this up in 2013.
As always, the news is mixed. It is now two years since the euphoria of the peaceful days of the Referendum in South Sudan. It is such a blessing that it took place with such a turnout and with such unity. It is a significant something that will be part of the history of the nation to remind the people of what can be – even if things have not been near that same level of peace and prosperity since. Then the country was teaming with the world's press. Since then interest has waned and the way forward is littered with corruption, crime and the SPLM-N rebellion in the north that is leaving land-locked South Sudan without a means of exporting its oil.
The rebels in the Nuba Mountains seem to be gaining ground even without supplies from the south, but the Khartoum government, under pressure from dissidents in its own ranks, is in no mood for a ceasefire. Despite the suffering of many Christians, it is Muslims who form most of the opposition from many parts of Sudan, now united in a signed pact. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article45091. The following is from an American newspaper.
The pictures tell almost as much as the story. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/01/07/3770547/civil-war-still-rages-in-nuba.html
At Bishop Gwynne College the semester ended well for the students. We will not know the exam results, of course, until the end of March. Getting home from the college is always a challenge. Many students don't have the wherewithal, and often have to beg or borrow. We are very grateful for sponsors who find them this money. With more students at the college the problem is even harder as they have to compete with each other for the available funds.
The sad news is that Joseph Taban, instead of going on a well earned holiday, ended up in hospital with a minor stroke. He was taken to Nairobi. George Chege, a contractor who has done a lot of work for the college, was home in Kenya for Christmas and visited him on a number of occasions. His latest report is that he is progressing well, but exactly how well he will be for resuming such a stressful work remains to be seen. He remains under treatment in Nairobi.
The college now has the majority of the site free of the “temporary” workshops (that was set up in the war) as the tenants move out. They have left a few serviceable buildings that, with a few modifications (like a roof!), we can use as temporary classrooms. Tina and I will be visiting the college for the month of February and will take pictures.
We are so grateful to all who have contributed to the college funds in the past year. I have just heard that we have a first donation on its way from Canada, so that that means we have received significant financial support from (in Alphabetical order), Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom and United States to add to the local support. All this has enabled us to increase numbers and standards at the college.
Thank you Trevor Stubbs
Comments from Nov 28th 2012
I have recently been much encouraged by the increasing interest and concern I have gathered from people in regard to Sudan/South Sudan. The Christian community especially appears to be much more knowledgeable about the needs there, than Europeans and Americans could learn from the news coverage they seem to get on mainstream television.
Large parts the Church of England, for example, are much more clued up and outward looking than the recent General Synod would suggest. If the report World-shaped Mission that is on the agenda at all levels, and the quality of the Partners in World Mission conference at beginning of November are anything to go by, then there is an increasing awareness of the real meaning of partnership and an understanding of how rich we can become when we listen to Christians in what has become known as the Majority World (Africa, Asia, South America, the Pacific etc.)
As prayer partners with Bishop Gwynne College, we know that we can benefit as much from the Episcopal Church of Sudan as they can from the West. The prayer and concern is two-way, even if the distribution of wealth not.
Below are extracts from the principal's latest emails.
"We have had a group of wonderful students these last two years."
" The students are doing well. The exam results were very remarkable. Most students got very good grades and we praise God that no single student failed last semester and no resits are required. They just need more motivational messages which I am trying to do always despite their living conditions."
"We have two wonderful female students with us. They have brought a lot of life to the college..."
"... we are triumphing well and our work is going ahead. The second staff house is done and about 12 students and the 2 females are accommodated in it.*
We are finished with the fencing and it is beautiful. The result is that the workshop has began to move out. We are taking over completely by the end of November praise God
The students are so happy the school is becoming cleaner and more beautiful. Our new sign post will be up soon - maybe next week.
No secretary yet and no new watchman but we are working on that. The part time teachers are doing wonderful work and it seems the students are happy with them. Chris and Lydia (Mitton) are a wonderful gift to us we thank God for them as they have fitted in very well. "
* We still need to raise the funds to build a second dormitory. In the meantime staff are still living out.
Following on the recent prayer bulletin, I have just read the following from the Archbishop of Canterbury after meeting Bishop Andudu.
Archbishop Daniel also reports on a recent visit to Abyei.
An Episcopal Church of Sudan delegation led by Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul has just returned from a visit to Abyei. They were shocked at what they saw. The town is deserted apart from "a few stragglers", and has been completely destroyed. One eye-witness from the delegation described it as reminiscent of World War II photos of the aftermath of the atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities. Only the mosque was untouched. The Catholic church, Catholic and ECS schools, boreholes,
administrative offices, government houses, power station, shops, even the latrines, have all been destroyed. The UN forces are perceived as being biased against the Dinka. There appear to be no humanitarian agencies working there, as apparently it is consider part of Sudan and they do not work cross-border. A huge number of refugees from Abyei, perhaps as many as 100 thousand, are in Agok with very few basic services. The people simply ask for what is their right under the Abyei Protocol of the CPA, agreed by both parties: a referendum in which they can choose their destiny.
The Church will be releasing a full report, with pictures and video, in the near future.
PS. In the UK you can help BGC when you buy your stuff on-line if you do it through Easyfunraising.org.uk by accessing sites (Amazon etc.) through them. Type in the URL:
http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/bishopgwynne and simply follow the instructions.
From Juba with love … Dear BGC Prayer Partners,
We are so grateful for all your prayers. I write to you today from Juba where I am privileged to spend the next month, and know just how much your prayers are appreciated by the hard working people here in Bishop Gwynne College.
This new academic year sees us begin with a new first year of sixteen students drawn from across South Sudan. This means that, for the first time since the college reopened in 2010, we have all three years running together with all the students doing the Limuru Diploma. The institution is healthy and vibrant, performing well under our very able principal, Revd Joseph Taban.
And conditions in Juba are better than they were with a lot more town power in the grid, which, in turn means more steady town water supplies making life more comfortable. The development of the city continues apace with new buildings going up wherever you look, many of them multi-storey.
Konya-Konya market (which probably covers two hectares), which was completely destroyed by fire in March, is now fully restored. The resilience and resourcefulness of these people is amazing!
There remains, of course, a lot of poverty and for the less motivated and disadvantaged, life is a struggle. But for those who want to make something of their lives, the opportunities exist.
Thank you! Trevor
Visit of Trinity College Students - See a slide show of the visit here
Just before air travel became impossible in Britain, four students, a supervising incumbent and a tutor from Trinity College Bristol managed to visit Juba.
This was an exciting event for the students here as it was the first time they had come across ordinary theological students from the UK as opposed to bishops, teachers and other leading people. It is not that they mind important people, but peer contact, especially from Europe, has never before been enjoyed by them.
The four students lived, ate and studied alongside the NBGC students. They attended different churches on the Sunday morning, walked around Juba and visited Koyna Koyna market. Although it was particularly hot in the shade (up to 37C) they got out and about walking in the sun.
The visit coincided with the elections. This both had advantages and disadvantages. Seeing the country during this historic moment was good. The Sudanese were pleased they had had the confidence to be here too, unlike some of the market stall holders and other expatriates who had "run away" as the locals expressed it. There was a holiday atmosphere, and many of the students left to attend their communities to cast their votes. This meant that normal college operations had to be suspended leaving more time for other things.
The students valued the opportunity to just "hang out" with each other, chat and learn. Conversations varied from simple things like personal family life, what is expected of clergy in each culture, concerns and problems that exercised them to theological issues they were currently studying.
On a practical level the party brought over 100 books with them - so many that we are having to reorganise the library! They brought them already catalogued and labelled too, for which are most grateful. Our appreciation goes to everyone in Trinity College and elsewhere who has contributed to this in any way.
It is our sincere hope that a visit from Trinity can be repeated in the future. Friendship contacts are important for encouragement and prayer. We really feel we have made a good start.
Amazing Anglican Communion Fund Award
We are delighted to report that we have been awarded GB£10,000 from the Anglican Communion Fund based at Lambeth Palace towards the development of the restoration of the existing buildings on our new site. This site originally housed students from BGC but fell into disuse and was let out at the height of the college decline. The
plan is to reclaim the site for BGC. The total cost of the project will probably exceed half a million dollars but the ACF grant is a useful beginning. A further £4000 is available from the fund set up in Bridport at the beginning of 2009 which up to now has been used for the upgrading of the library.
Of great significance is the Appeal to the Diocese of Salisbury launched in February 2010 by the retiring Bishop, David Stancliffe. Hearing that we required at total of US$98,000 to complete the first phase he has challenged his diocese to raise £66,000 by June 2010. We have full confidence that he will achieve this. We are hugely indebted to those who give like this, not only for the money they send, but the prayers and love that comes with it. Other church organisations are currently considering the possibility of investing in the building of a guest house to become and income generating asset for the college in future years.
Overseas visitors and teachers in 2010 include: Baroness Cox and her team, the Revd David and Mrs Holloway from AID, the Revd Chris Sugden, Mr Collin Timms, Sir Donald Curry and team, The Rt Revd. David Stancliffe and team, Professor Joseph Britton (Berkeley College, Yale, USA), Prof Eeva Johns and six students from Trinity
College Bristol, Revd Andy Wheeler and team from St Saviour's Guildford and others to be confirmed.