‘Empower the church and South Sudan will change’: Archbishop Deng
The Most Rev Moses Deng Bol, Archbishop of Northern Bhar El Ghazal Internal Province and Bishop of the
Diocese of Wau, has reiterated his belief that the church still remains the most reliable institution to broker
peace and sustain growth and development in a peaceful South Sudan as the young country desperately searches for solutions to its problems.
Speaking to Global Christian News, the Archbishop Moses Deng Bol said, “In 2008, I was working with World Vision and our country director went into a meeting of the NGO’s forum in Juba. And one of the NGO’s representative stood up and asked a question. ‘What is the one thing when you do, will change South Sudan positively in the next ten years?’ The Archbishop said, “somebody from UN, United Nations Mission in South Sudan, (UNIMISS), stood up and said, you empower the Church.”
“Empowering the church, in my view, from 2008 even today, is the only way that can help the country of South Sudan because the church is the most trusted institution in the country. Trusted even by different groups who are fighting; rebels, the government and others. Some of them might have targeted some ethnic groups in the church, but they are not targeting the church itself in the fight.” Archbishop Moses Deng Said.
To build the predominantly Christian nation where there is distrust, corruption and conflicts and war, the Archbishop Deng says the warring factions do not trust or have confidence in whatever the opposing groups and factions say or do, people in South Sudan only trust and have confidence in the church.
“So because of this such confidence the church has in the community, we need the Church to be empowered,” to be the agents of change in South Sudan,” he said.
The South Sudanese church already has a track record of bringing the factions together, with the United Nations, in brokering peace. Even if the pact was not respected by the factions after the signing.
The church has continuously engaged “the government to make sure that we advocate with the government to make sure that there is peace, there is unity. And it will take time because now the country is broken down along ethnic lines and the efforts of the church will take time to bear fruits,” said the Archbishop.
To be effective and play its role effectively, the South Sudan Church needs two things, according to Archbishop Deng. They need to be equipped and trained in peace building. “So that the churches are equipped with knowledge that will help them to build peace and to also get involved in nation building,” added Archbishop Deng.
Critically, also, the Archbishop pointed out, the church needs to be empowered to build and run schools and hospitals which have direct impact on communities. “If the church runs schools, the health centres, and others… the communities will be given services, which they need. Which is what is causing frustration now.
“When we got independence people thought we were going to get good education, we were going to get healthcare, we were going to get food security all those did not come. Only the few guys in Juba, took all the money, brought to Uganda and Kenya, as far as Melbourne in Australia, they used it to buy big houses and married more wives, because in South Sudan many people are polygamists, so then people got frustrated and this is what brought the war,” he declared.
The empowerment of the church, which has credibility now in South Sudan and which people trust in order to give basic services to people is another way of building peace, according to Deng.
He suggests to any Christian community or organisation hoping to reach out to South Sudan to do so through the church. It is only the church which has the credibility to play a role in peace building and help also to build the nation.
“My prayer and hope is that South Sudan will be a peaceful nation when the current leadership changes. It will be a developing nation… that will have democracy with a peaceful election and it will have a rule of law not a rule of gun which we have today. These are my prayer and my hope for South Sudan and I work day and night to make sure that these dreams are realized, if not in my lifetime but a least during my children’s time,” the Archbishop declared.