Thursday, July 21, 2011

South Sudan: The Birth of a New Nation

The flag of South Sudan
Photo: Libby Dearing
Hello All:

What a wonderful time to be in South Sudan!!! We were privileged to be a witness to the birth of a new nation yesterday. Through Elias, a friend and UMCOR employee, we received invitations to attend the ceremony in Yei. We were seated under the shed (built new after being torn down by a storm) just behind the dignitaries who attended. We felt honored to be included. Many speeches were given, and we heard a lot about responsibility, respect, hard work, and struggle. One guy said, "Now is not the time to sit." There was a parade with many schools, women's groups, tribal dancers, and others participating.

Ceremonies in South Sudan
Photo: Libby Dearing
Even the local Muslims marched. The banners were handmade and held high with pride. People had come from everywhere and you could feel the excitement in the air. It was very moving when they took down the flag of Sudan and raised the flag of South Sudan. They even sacrificed two goats at the base of the flag. I wasn't particularly fond of that part, but it is part of their culture. Later, in his speech, Bishop Elias Taban said it isn't necessary to do that anymore because the blood of Jesus Christ is enough.

We returned home and soon received a call from Elias saying the tribal dancers were fantastic and he was coming to pick us up. He took us back to Freedom Square, where there was a sea of people as far as you could see. There were many circles with dust rising from each one. Soon the pastor from Yei UMC, Amos Taban, came and led us through the crowd. He took us to each group and cleared the crowd so we could be right at the edge to see. Several people kept trying to get us to join the dance, but Amos was pretty protective and said no. It was the most exciting thing we have seen in a while. At the end, we joined the gospel program where our children at Yei UMC were performing. They made us proud.

Just when we thought we were finished for the day, we received an invitation to dinner at UNMIS (United Nations Missions In Sudan). We had roasted goat (that was delicious), chicken, and rice. The coordinator of the event said they would now be changing their name to UNMISS (United Nations of South Sudan). We met people from Nepal, Wales, Russia, Holland, Pakistan, and Canada. Of course, many Sudanese were there. It was amazing to be in the presence of people from so many different places.

By the end of the day we were exhausted but so thrilled to have been a part of a truly historic event. It has made us appreciate the founding of our nation and realize what our ancestors went through to give us the freedom we enjoy today.

May each of you experience the freedom you have through Jesus Christ,

Fred and Libby

Fred and Libby Dearing are an Individual Volunteer couple. They are from the Holston Annual Conference and are assigned by Global Ministries to serve in Yei, South Sudan.  

1 comment:

  1. Fred and Libby,
    many blessings as you accompany the people of South Sudan. Cathy Whitlatch, Missionary in Residence, GBGM


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