Posts tagged refugees
Action Plan for Peace

by Jeff Ritchie

“The only hope for peace is the church.” So declared the Rev. Peter Gai, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, when our team visited him in Addis Ababa. The Rev. Gai had been part of the Ecumenical delegation which we met the day before, but an infected wound in his leg prevented him from meeting us then. He wanted to see us, however, and we were grateful to get his insights on how the churches can be the means of peace in the 3 ½ year conflict.

The Moderator spoke about the “Action Plan for Peace,” or APP. He underscored what we heard the previous day that the church needs to speak with a united voice, “We want peace.” It must share this message with all the churches in South Sudan, with all who have fled South Sudan and are in refugee camps, and with the Sudanese Diaspora. The latter, the Rev. Gai said, can play a pivotal role in bringing peace to South Sudan. Two of our team members are among the dispersed peoples of South Sudan, so this was a comment particularly to Jacob Gatkuoth and David Paduil in light of what he would later say.

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Ethiopian Journey, Day 2

By Jeff Ritchie

Our whole team has now arrived. David Paduil, Commissioned Ruling Elder at the Sudanese Presbyterian Church in Gallatin, Tennessee, landed this morning. The others in our group are Elder Jacob Gatkuoth, from the Sudanese American Presbyterian Fellowship in San Diego; the Rev. Allen (Chip) Grammer, pastor of the Sherwood Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, NC; Frank Dimmock, Africa Mission Specialist for The Outreach Foundation; and the Rev. Jeff Ritchie, Mission Advocate for The Outreach Foundation.

We received some bad news today. A group from the World Council of Churches and the South Sudan Council of Churches had visited a refugee camp the day before to celebrate World Refugee Day and advocate for peace. Some residents of the camps who are upset about the current regime in South Sudan, have come to think that anyone coming to them from Juba, the capital of South Sudan, must be on the side of the Salva Kiir government. They became increasingly hostile toward the church delegation in the first camp that the group visited. As a result, the government organization responsible for administering refugees in Ethiopia, ARRA, kept the delegation from going to other camps for the sake of their own safety.

The result of this experience was that ARRA has decided for the time being not to permit other groups to enter the camps. This refusal of permission, unfortunately, includes our group...

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