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Rejoicing in the new nation of South Sudan, July 9, 2011. (Photo credit: Sara Fajardo, Catholic Relief Services)

Rejoicing in the new nation of South Sudan, July 9, 2011. (Photo credit: Sara Fajardo, Catholic Relief Services)

By Faith J. H. McDonnell (@Cuchulain09)

For the People of the Republic of South Sudan, it is critical to remember what God has brought them through, and to come together in unity once again.

Yesterday, I reported that the Most Rev. Daniel Deng Bul, the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS), had called on the nation of South Sudan to pray and fast for the week leading up to the anniversary of South Sudan’s Independence Day on July 9. Many people around the world are also joining with the South Sudanese in this critical time of repentance and forgiveness. By God’s grace, the different people groups of South Sudan will experience healing of the trauma of the past and reconciliation with each other.

In “The Way Forward,” a working paper of the Committee for National Healing, Peace, and Reconciliation of which Deng is the chairman, the archbishop compares South Sudan’s struggle for liberation to that of the nation of Israel. First he quotes Psalm 133: 1 “Behold how good it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” Then he refers to Joshua 24: 1 that details how the nation of Israel went into Canaan, led by Joshua, after the death of Moses. Joshua reminds the Israelites that God had helped them all along the way, and demands that they choose whether they would follow God or follow idols.

“Dear brothers and sisters, we are in a situation that is very close to that of the nation of Israel,” Deng says. He reminds the people of how God has helped them, and how the people of South Sudan attained freedom “as a united people, from the western end of Bahr el Ghazal to the eastern borders of Eastern Equatoria; from Abyei in the North to Nimule in the South.” Deng says that “all tribes of this country participated in the struggle” and recounts the times when the country came together as one:

“This is why it is distressing to see the very people who struggled shoulder to shoulder are now butchering each other as though they have so easily forgotten where God has taken us through,” laments Deng. He says that national unity, forgiveness, and reconciliation are just a critical for the nation as any of the objectives he has mentioned above.

“It is no exaggeration to say that we are dealing with the very future of our nation,” declares Deng. “Without reconciliation, there will be no South Sudan, or at least, it will degenerate into a failed state, with decades of conflict and misery ahead of us.” But he adds that with a “spiritual foundation” all the attempts at reconciliation will be flawed and will fail.

Please pray along with Archbishop Daniel Deng that the people of South Sudan will remember all that God has brought them through and that they will understand that, whether they be Christian, Muslim, or followers of traditional religion, as Deng has declared, “God created and placed you here in South Sudan to live together in peace and harmony.”