ALCOA, Tenn. (Aug. 31, 2016) -- With the news of South Sudan’s crisis breaking their hearts, church members all over Holston Conference are preparing for a 24-hour prayer vigil on Sept. 1 and a special offering on Oct. 9.
“It’s a God-size problem,” said the Rev. Fred Dearing, who has served in South Sudan since 2011. “The human condition is deteriorating. There is no food or medicines coming into the country, and we are looking at massive famine. And, the fighting continues.”
Beginning at midnight on Sept. 1, Holston members are committing to pray for a 24-hour period. Each of Holston’s 12 districts have been assigned two one-hour time segments – one in the a.m., another in the p.m. – to ensure that “South Sudan, its leaders, and all the people, are bathed in prayer,” according to mission leaders.
On Sunday, Oct. 9, Holston’s 881 churches will join a special offering with the goal of collecting $150,000 to $200,000. Bulletin inserts are available. Envelopes will be sent to churches soon..
“Your gift will be used to provide temporary sanctuary in Aura, Uganda, for the 36 orphaned children and their caretakers of Grace Home and Greenland Home. These little ones are part of the future in South Sudan -- a generation of hope and peace,” according to a bulletin insert prepared for the effort.
Currently, Dearing and his wife and fellow missionary, Libby Dearing, are in Uganda, visiting with some of the children, who are in a refugee camp, and working to help other children to safety.
“I got to see most of the Grace children day before yesterday, and that was a joyous occasion. We took soccer balls and jump ropes and sweets -- all big hits with the children,” Libby Dearing said on Aug. 31.
Emails from United Methodist staff and consultants in South Sudan describe a desperate and dangerous situation in and around Yei River County, a region where Holston has partnered in mission for a decade.
“We keep on praying and [our] eyes are fixed on Jesus,” said Sebit Isaac, a pastor in South Sudan, in an email on Aug. 29. “He is the alpha and omega. I trust and believe this situation will become to an end by his power.”
“God’s love won’t walk away, and neither will we,” said Danny Howe, Holston’s South Sudan ministry coordinator.
Almighty God, the Father of all humanity, we offer up the crisis in South Sudan; turn, we pray, the hearts of all peoples and their rulers, that by the power of your Holy Spirit, peace may be established among the nations on the foundation of your justice, righteousness and truth. -- From "Prayers for the People of South Sudan"
Orphan rescue continues during South Sudan crisis (The Call, 8/21/16)
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.