Special prayer vigil, offering to be announced
ALCOA, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 2016) – The plight of some 35 orphaned children from South Sudan has captured the praying hearts of Holstonians who read on Facebook about the dangerous efforts to move them to safer ground earlier this month.
As two Holston missionaries prepare to return to Africa this week to provide further aid for the children, other Holston leaders are planning a prayer vigil and offering to address the worsening crisis in South Sudan.
“Folks, we’re probably going to be looking at famine square in the face,” the Rev. Fred Dearing said during an Aug. 18 meeting about the future of ministry in South Sudan. “This is a God-sized problem.”
On Aug. 23, Dearing and his wife, Libby Dearing, will again depart their home in Chattanooga, Tenn., and travel to Uganda. Their goal is to rescue about 24 children from a Ugandan refugee camp. The children are former residents of Grace Home for Children in Yei, who were evacuated to Uganda in July to protect them from escalating violence in their own nation.
The Dearings will also work to continue the evacuation of about 12 orphans – former Greenland Home for Children residents – moved to Yei earlier this month in a perilous rescue carried out by South Sudanese mission staff. Libby Dearing shared prayer requests for the effort through her Facebook page.
The Dearings will stay in Uganda until late September, planning a temporary home and education for the orphans in Uganda.
HOW TO HELP
“We have to find a way of being with the people – not for them but with them,” Danny Howe said during the Aug. 18 planning meeting. Howe is Holston’s coordinator of South Sudan missions.
Holston mission leaders are trying to figure out how to help their East African friends from a distance -- now that U.S. missionaries have evacuated, mission teams are suspended, and South Sudanese people are fleeing their own nation by the thousands.
War and starvation are bearing down on South Sudan, even in Yei, a relatively peaceful place where Holston has invested people and money over the last decade.
Next week, the Holston Missions Team will publicize a day of prayer – followed by a special offering – that will help secure the care of the orphans as well as other South Sudanese ministries, Howe said.
“We don’t want to sit back and wait,” Howe said, noting that South Sudanese staff are risking their lives to care for the orphans, guard the facilities built by Holston, and stockpile food for their families and others. “Their ability to maintain the infrastructure is going to be greatly challenged.”
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.