This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18
Famine in South Sudan
Famine begins like this: 100,000 facing starvation in what used to be the breadbasket of Africa, South Sudan. Five million more are on the brink of famine. The world’s youngest country has turned from hope and promise to violence and fear. Drought combined with societal collapse has prevented food production and distribution.
How can First Pres Boulder help?
We at First Pres are partnering with the Shenango Presbytery of Pennsylvania to donate funds to the South Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church for emergency food support. Their longstanding relationship with this African congregation will enable us to safely finance our brothers and sisters in need. We encourage you and your family to pray about how you can join in this effort.
How to give
What is the process of getting food to the people who need it?
Shenango Presbytery sends a bank transfer to the bank in Juba, South Sudan. The leaders of the South Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church (SSPEC) withdraw the money as needed to buy food. Most of the food is bought in Uganda and then brought back to South Sudan. The church leaders determine the best way to get the food supplies to the people living in the bush. Their pastors and elders safeguard the delivery of the food to people who need it.
How much money does the bank take in fees?
The bank has a long relationship with the SSPEC. In fact, one of the elders of the church has recently retired from the bank. Because of that, the fees for transfer have been no higher than for any international transfers, around 3%.
What kind of food is distributed?
That depends on availability. Most often, the food is bought in Uganda. Sometimes even produce is available. On the last report sent to Shenango, the following food items were bought and distributed: oil, rice, flour, sugar, lentils, and milk.
How big is the SSPEC?
The leadership of the church is comprised of about 8 people. They serve a number of “congregations” around the area of Juba. Most congregations don’t meet in a building, but rather gather where they can, like perhaps under a tree. When it comes to food distribution, the leadership team works with pastors of the different tribal or language groups to make sure food is distributed by people who understand the culture and language of each congregation.
How long will this need for food exist?
Of course, no one knows what will happen, but because of the political, economic, and climate conditions on the ground in South Sudan, the forecast is that there will be a need for direct food aid for the foreseeable future. The SSPEC will monitor the conditions on the ground and withdraw money as needed to provide for those they can. The situation today is better than it was a year ago, but it is still far from being stable. As an example, in South Sudan today, a peach might cost the equivalent of $40 US.
What can you tell me about the people of SSPEC?
The South Sudanese people are a mix of those who were originally in the north and those who were born and raised in what is today South Sudan. The people who were raised in the north were educated in Arabic and have more of a formal education than those who were raised in the south. Those in the south were educated in their tribal language. All of these people make up the church known as South Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Because of their diversity, they are able to serve groups of people living in the bush who come from different walks of life. Our partners in Pennsylvania who know them well describe them as “very smart,” “with strong family ties,” and “savvy in the ways of getting things done.”
Why did our Missions Department choose this outlet for our money?
We prayerfully considered a number of possibilities, both large and small, for our donations. We settled on joining efforts with the Shenango Presbytery in Pennsylvania because of their long relationship with SSPEC (over 20 years now) and their strong ties with those on the ground. We also liked this option because it seems very personal. We will know exactly where our money has gone because SSPEC has a great track record of accountability to its donors. We know we are a small drop in a large bucket of needs, but we are satisfied that we can make a difference in a meaningful way.
Helpful links for more information
Please do not hesitate to contact Becky McKain with any questions.