Monday, March 3, 2014

We are left alone, we are left, we are left, we are left...

On Thursday, January 23, 2014 a cease-fire agreement was signed between the rebels loyal to the ousted former vice-president Riek Machar, and the government forces of South Sudan. Now, more than a month later, the fighting continues and civilians caught in the middle of this conflict continue to flee to neighboring States. (I have just heard from Bishop Grant that Ethiopia has closed its borders - thousands on the South Sudan side are still trying to get in.)

 Ishma'il Kushkush and Nicholis Kulish of the New York Times state:

Far from subsiding, in some cases the violence has taken on an even more brutal edge. The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said Wednesday that patients had been killed in their beds at the Teaching Hospital in Malakal. Across South Sudan, medical equipment has been looted and wards burned to the ground. In one instance, an entire hospital was destroyed. *1
A photograph from Doctors Without Borders, from Sunday, of its burned-out medical storage area in Leer, South Sudan. CreditDoctors Without Borders, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

This escalation in the war has a direct impact on our dear brethren in Gambela. Many have family and friends in South Sudan. Bishop Grant says that almost every day a pastor, parishioner, or a staff member will tell them of a family member who has been killed in the conflict.

But for me the tragedy is that the present situation does not sound very different from the situation back in the 1980's as described by Episcopal priest, Marc Nikkel in his letters to his supporters back home in the US. *2

Back then, thousands of civilian lives were being sacrificed  for the cause of "liberation" too. In his letter dated August 19, 1986, as the first winds of war began to blow in their direction, Marc quotes the lines of a Jieng hymn - words that could apply to the grave situation today as much as it did then. It is a cry similar to that found in many of the Psalms. Has God forgotten? Are we alone? Why do we go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? (cf. Psalm 42) The final verse is probably the most haunting of all...a painful twist in the story of the fiery furnace in Daniel 3...

Father of our Lord in Heaven

1. Father of our Lord in Heaven
Visit us for we are worried in our hearts
We are without faith, O Lord; try to visit us all.
We are all worried; the hardships of this world are upon us.
The sin of the world has cut us away from your path.
We are left alone, we are left, we are left, we are left.

2. The Father of our Lord, who has power,
Help us for we are all worried.
Don't allow the evil spirit to crush us.
Help us, we are mourning, we are mourning, all of us are mourning.
The sin of the world is preventing us from taking your path.
We are left alone, we are left, we are left, we are left.

3. The Father of our Lord, who is Love,
Follow us with your heavenly power.
We are scattered like the sheep who have no shepherd.
The world is scattering us; we are all being scattered.
The sin of this world has cut us off from our Lord.
We are left alone, we are left, we are left, we are left.

4. Father of our Lord, who is able to help,
Allow us to sit at your right hand.
Your truth I have heard, O Lord.
Release us from sin for we are falling in the fire.
The sin of this world divided us and thrown us into the fire, O Lord.
We are burning, we are dying, we are burning, we are burning, we are burning.

*2 Nikkel, Marc (ed LeMarquand, Grant), My Haven't You Left? Letters from the Sudan, Church Publishing Inc, NY, 2006, 45.

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