Down and Dromore’s link with Maridi Diocese in South Sudan is part of a unique concept of mission across three continents; Albany USA, Down and Dromore, sharing together in Mission with the Church in South Sudan through CMS Ireland.
The team that visited in October 2012 participated in a Youth Conference, provided medical support, lead worship and made ministry visits to two Archdeaconries that had been affected by Lord’s Resistance Army incursions.
The link was forged when Bishop Harold and his wife visited the Diocese of Maridi in 1999 with Canon Cecil Wilson, the former CMSI Director of Mission, and saw at first hand the struggles of the people who were at that time just beginning to return from exile. A number of parishes in the diocese of Down and Dromore were identified and approached about developing a Mission Link with Maridi Diocese and the diocese of Albany also requested to join in this Partnership.
Both Albany and Down and Dromore have responded very generously in practical terms to the very genuine needs that exist in Southern Sudan. Chaima Bible School, founded in 1990 operating under trees, was the inspiration for Bishop Miller to begin the partnership and it moved into new buildings funded by Holywood Parish. The first phase of this new development, opened by Bishop Miller in January 2005, offered Clergy training. As the Province prioritised its Provincial Bible Colleges Chaima was relaunched as Chaima Christian Institute, Maridi, in 2009. Now it provides tertiary training, offering Certificate and Diploma courses in English, management, entrepreneurship, information communication technology, development studies and Business and Administration.
Bicycles for clergy, a vehicle for the bishop, new primary schools, a new health clinic and medicines and a refurbished Guest House have also been provided through the partnership.
The link, however, is primarily about people and building relationships. Over the years joint mission teams from Albany and Ireland have visited Maridi to engage in practical mission and the Bishop of Maridi, the Rt Rev Justin Badi Arama has visited both Albany and Ireland. Very strong links have been forged between all partners as a result. In 2010 a small team led by CMS Ireland’s David Gough visited Maridi. It included Revd Stephen Lowry, the Dean of Dromore Cathedral and the Cathedral’s Verger as well as two parishioners from Movilla Abbey.
View some photos of Maridi here.
Read Trevor Buchanan’s personal view of South Sudan here.
Sudan and Maridi Diocese
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011 as the outcome of a 2005 peace deal that ended Africa’s longest–running civil war.
An overwhelming majority of South Sudanese voted in a January 2011 referendum to secede and become Africa’s first new country since Eritrea split from Ethiopia in 1993.
The new nation stands to benefit from inheriting the bulk of Sudan’s oil wealth, but continuing disputes with Khartoum and a lack of economic development cloud its immediate future.
Formed from the 10 southern–most states of Sudan, South Sudan is a land of expansive grassland, swamps and tropical rain forest straddling both banks of the White Nile.
It is highly diverse ethnically and linguistically. Among the largest ethnic groups are the Dinka, Nuer and Shilluk.
Unlike the predominantly Muslim population of Sudan, the South Sudanese follow traditional religions, while a minority are Christians.
Source: BBC Read more here.
The Diocese of Maridi is situated due west of Juba, the capital city of SouthSudan and shares a southern border with DR Congo.
The 20–year civil war, which has had such a devastating effect on Sudan’s recent history, saw many people in the diocese forced into exile – mostly in DR Congo. However, in the past few years, many of those people have begun to return home and start a new life, from scratch.
During the war much of the infrastructure in the area was destroyed but the Church remained. As the resettlement process began to evolve it was clear that the Church, under the leadership of Bishop Justin Badi, would play a pivotal role in the rebuilding of Maridi.
This meant that, amongst other things, the diocese became involved in providing primary and secondary level education, ensuring basic healthcare and enabling HIV/AIDS awareness training.
The work of the Church is crucial to meet the needs of its people as the new country takes its place in the world.
CMS Ireland in Maridi
CMS Ireland has walked alongside the diocese in partnership for more than 10 years. Over recent years, CMS Ireland Link Parishes and donor funding has resulted in the building of Amaki Primary School; women’s projects; leadership training; building Haddow Secondary School; a new Christ Town Primary School in Maridi town; training more teachers; upgrading Bethsaida health clinic and training health staff; an agricultural project for self sustainability and providing clean water for those living in the area.
Local leaders are acutely aware that these physical responses are only part of the story and continue to share the love of Christ in word as well as deed – equipping people for evangelism and nurturing new believers.
“South Sudan is certainly not the easiest place in the world to work but things have been improving from the signing of the Peace Agreement. In recent years the roads have been improving, mobile communication has arrived, health care is improving and a town water supply to tap stands by the road, has been provided. Yet, decades of conflict have wreaked havoc on much of the local infrastructure and in the rural areas none of these services are available. Many of the obvious problems are exacerbated by the influx of tens of thousands of refugees returning home, over 1,200 from October 2010 and thousands of internally displaced people from bordering countries.
“However, the Church is making significant inroads into communities and is working to share the love of Christ in word and deed. Evangelism, leadership training, education, health care and vocational skills are significant priorities across all CMS Ireland’s Sudan Partner Dioceses and in Maridi Link Parishes. Albany and Down and Dromore Dioceses are supporting this work as the new country of South Sudan emerges.”
If you or your Parish would like to join in this challenge with Down and Dromore, please contact David Gough at email@example.com or phone 028 90775020.