July 4, 2019
by Danny Howe
Missions Director of First Broad Street UMC (Kingsport, TN)
Most of us are aware of Holston’s long relationship with the people of South Sudan, beginning in 2006, a year after a peace agreement ended almost 50 years of war with the north of Sudan. We also remember the jubilation and celebration of being liberated from the oppression and violence that separated families and sent hundreds of thousands into exile in neighboring countries. Churches were planted and re-established with a hunger and thirst to praise God and give thanks for the deliverance from a day-to-day existence of survival to a hope for a life of peace and the promise of a future.
Psalm 30:1-2 I exalt you, Lord, because you pulled me up; you didn’t let my enemies celebrate over me. Lord, my God, I cried out for your help and you healed me.
In the years following, although life was difficult and uncertain due to the destruction of so much infrastructure during war, the south became the new nation of South Sudan, and the future seemed to appear brighter for all. Most of us experience the highs and lows of our faithfulness to God in relation to the experiences of life at the time. We find ourselves depending on God in time of need, praising God as prayers are answered, and turning away from God as life appears to be focused and trouble free. As we seem to forget where our strength comes from, we rely upon ourselves more and leave God out of our daily life. When failure reappears, it seems as if God has forsaken us, only to finally realize that we have turned away from God, the very provider of all that we have, are and do. It was only a few short years before the new nation of South Sudan fell into civil war, a war of power, greed and tribalism…a war born out of losing sight of God’s plan of peace for the people of South Sudan.
Psalm 30:6-7 When I was comfortable, I said, “I will never stumble.” Because it pleased you, Lord, you made me a strong mountain. But then you hid your presence. I was terrified.
The people of South Sudan continue in Exile, whether in South Sudan or neighboring countries. The churches are crying out to God to deliver the masses from the bondage of war and oppression, restoring the land of South Sudan to be a place of peace and prosperity for all tribes and peoples. God continues to be faithful, even when it appears God is absent in our lives. It is only when we realize that all we are and have is of God, that we are able to walk with God each and every day, living into his calling on our lives and his blessings on us as his people.
Psalm 30: 11-12 You changed my mourning into dancing. You took my funeral clothes and dressed me up in Joy so that my whole being might sing praises to you and never stop. Lord, my God, I will give you thanks forever.
We join our brothers and sisters of South Sudan in recognizing God’s faithfulness to all humanity, even when we stray to our own desires and motives. God’s love and faithfulness is constant. One day, all who proclaim Christ Jesus as redeemer and provider will be dressed in joy, singing praises and giving thanks forever. Thank you God for your faithfulness to us, and for the opportunity to participate in your faithfulness to all humanity. And all of God’s people say, Amen!