Journey to South Sudan and Ethiopia

Jeff Ritchie, Outreach’s Associate Director for Mission, departed for Africa on May 11 for a two week visit to Ethiopia and South Sudan. Civil war in South Sudan caused millions to flee to refugee camps in neighboring Ethiopia. Jeff and the team will meet South Sudanese in refugee camps in Ethiopia. It is very important for people to show up and encourage the refugees from the war in South Sudan so that they do not feel all alone.
The team will then travel to Juba, South Sudan, to meet the leadership of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, our partner in mission for the rebuilding of hope in South Sudan. The team will encourage the leadership of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, both at the local level (where the refugees are) and at the national level in Juba, so that they realize that others are advocating for them, praying for peace, and sharing their longing for a return to the hopes that they had when South Sudan became independent.

Day 1

We are on African soil! Our Ethiopian Airlines plane touched down at Addis Ababa this morning. We were greeted by the Rev. Ding Gach, President of the Western Gambella Bethel Synod of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. The Rev. Ding and the Synod he serves have welcomed many of the 200,000 refugees from the civil war in South Sudan over the past 2 ½ years. We will spend two days in Addis Ababa before flying with the Rev. Ding to the refugee area in Gambella near the border with South Sudan.

While in Addis our host is the Coordinating Office for the Bethel Synods of the Mekane Yesus Church, whose entry gate (shown above) features a verse from Proverbs. In the other photo you see our hosts and our team:

Top row, left to right: Ato Petros Tsanu, Projects Coordinator, Bethel Synods Office; Elder Jacob Gatkuoth, San Diego, CA; the Rev. Ding Gach, President, Western Gambella Bethel Synod
Bottom row, left to right: Kes Teferi, Coordinator, Bethel Synods Office; Elder David Paduil, Gallatin, TN; Jeff Ritchie, Associate Director for Mission of The Outreach Foundation.

Ethiopia was my first African country to visit. The Mekane Yesus Church has marked my life since 1993.

Jeff Ritchie
Associate Director for Mission