Posts in South Sudan Ethiopia 2017
Seeing God at Work

by Rev. Allenn “Chip” Grammer, pastor, Sherwood Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, NC

Every Sunday I ask my congregation two questions: Where have you seen God this week? And, what is God saying to you? I believe it is important for people to look for God at work to help strengthen their faith. We often do not look and therefore we do not see. The second question focuses on our listening to the Holy Spirit - something that we all need to do better. In this post, I want to answer the first question. 

On the flight over from Dulles I met David, a Kenyan, who had great faith. He spoke with passion about the plight of the South Sudanese refugees and how God had not abandoned them. But man, in the guise of leaders, had allowed an evil presence to temporarily prevail. His faith in the power of God and the faith of the Sudanese people were so strong that I took great hope that this great burden was temporary in nature and that God would not only prevail, but would use it to further His glory. David said that the church would have to take the lead in bringing peace to South Sudan.

Read More
Youth Reconciliation: A Breakthrough for God in the Camps

by David Paduil, Commissioned Ruling Elder, Sudanese Presbyterian Church, Gallatin, TN

The joint trip of The Outreach Foundation and Presbyterians of the South Sudanese Diaspora in America to visit refugee camps in the Gambella Region of Ethiopia did not get off to a good start. Very soon after our arrival we learned that we could not enter the refugee camps this year because of unrest in the camps due to the political situation in South Sudan. In consultation with the Mekane Yesus Church and South Sudanese leaders in the camps, we decided to bring youth and pastors of the parishes from all the camps to Gambella for worship and the distribution of some musical instruments which we were donating to the youth in the camps. 

Tuesday morning, June 27, we began with worship and a conversation with the youth of the camps who shared about their lives, their hopes and dreams. It was a very special time. 

Read More
Ethiopian Journey: The Western Gambella Bethel Synod, Partners and Friends

by Jeff Ritchie

The Mekane Yesus Church has long been a partner of The Outreach Foundation. This year, as we carried out our mission on behalf of the refugees, we experienced a deepened partnership with the Western Gambella Bethel Synod of the Mekane Yesus. They were of immense help in planning our itinerary and in assisting in all the logistics of our ministry among the refugees. However, they have a vibrant ministry of their own, and we spent Monday morning, June 26, with them as they shared their programs, hopes, and dreams. 

Read More
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.

Read More
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...

Read More
World Refugee Day

More than coincidence that we should be on our way to Ethiopia to visit South Sudanese refugees today, on this World Refugee Day. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported this week that there are more than 65 million refugees and displaced persons globally as of the end of 2015. Nearly one third of them are in the African region we will be visiting. South Sudan, the world’s newest country, ranks third behind Syria and Afghanistan in number of refugees. There are now 6 or more camps in the Gambella region and we hope to visit 4 of them. The U.N. reports that there are around 375,000 South Sudanese registered in the Ethiopian camps. There are many more are awaiting registration. Presbyterian partners in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), have welcomed their Sudanese neighbors and are doing their best to assist them. Many members of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) have been separated from their families, homes and congregations since the civil conflict restarted in December 2013...

Read More