Maridi Team Blog: 1999, 2005 and 2012Wednesday 24 October 2012
This is the third time I have had the privilege of visiting the diocese of Maridi in Southern Sudan.
The first time was in 1999 with a team from Ulster Television who were making a programme to tell the story of the Southern Sudanese people returning home after many years as refugees. The programme went out on Easter Day as ‘The Resurrection People’. Visiting Sudan in 1999 was an amazing experience of meeting people who had lost everything: homes, family, in many cases the lives of those close to them, and who had nothing in worldly terms, but in fact had everything spiritually in Christ, and you could see it in the joy of their faces.
By 2005, a firm link had been established between Albany Diocese, the Diocese of Down and Dromore and Maridi. That link had proven to be a vital one in the regeneration and development of Maridi, in education, health care, clergy support and many other ways. 2005 was a key time for this part if the world, because the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed during the visit. You could sense palpably the changes, progress and the sense of hope for the future in the air.
Now, we are here in 2012, with a team of ten from Albany and Down and Dromore, and for the first time the three bishops are together in Maridi – Bishop Justin Badi, Bishop Bill Love and myself. This time we are visiting the newest country in the world: South Sudan, with its flag proudly flying. The new country was set up in 2011, and, although the peace can be fragile, especially when oil comes into the picture, there is the real possibility of building a new future, and the church is at the centre of that vision. Together we can make a real and Christlike difference!