Down and Dromore shares together in Mission with the Church in South Sudan through CMS Ireland. The Bishop of Maridi is Rt Revd Moses Zungo.
Maridi Diocese and a conflict–torn history
The Diocese of Maridi is situated in Western Equatoria, due west of Juba, the capital city of South Sudan and shares a southern border with DR Congo.
In 2011, South Sudan became an independent country after over 20 years of guerrilla warfare which claimed the lives of at least 1.5 million people and displaced more than four million.
The civil war saw many people in Maridi Diocese forced into exile and much of the country’s infrastructure destroyed. However, when people began to return home and start a new life from scratch, the Church, under the leadership of the then Bishop, Justin Badi, played 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.
When a ten–strong team visited Maridi Diocese in October 2012, the country was getting back on its feet. Although the problems facing South Sudan (and the church) were enormous, largely there was peace, and a sense of hope for the future.
All of that changed in 2013 when civil war broke out again with devastating results for the country:
- Almost 400,000 people killed
- 2.2 million refugees and 1.5 million displaced inside the country
- More than 6 million are living on the brink of famine
- Less than half of the country’s health care facilities are functioning, and many in operation are poorly equipped and understaffed
- Rank in Human Development Index: 186 of 189*
South Sudan is currently experiencing a period of relative calm following a nationwide ceasefire in 2018 and a deal to create a unity government. If fragile talks break down, South Sudan faces a high risk of renewed conflict; there is well–founded fear that parties excluded from the peace deal will disrupt humanitarian efforts.
Please pray for lasting peace and for the church as it continues to play its vital part in sharing the gospel and supporting the Maridi community.
These short videos feature Education, Healthcare, Ministry and Youth, Mother’s Union and the Effects of War and the LRA.
The link was forged when Bishop Harold Miller and his wife visited the Diocese of Maridi in 1999 with Canon Cecil Wilson, the former CMSI Director of Mission. They 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 developed a Mission Link with Maridi Diocese and the diocese of Albany also joined in this partnership.
Both dioceses 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 to begin the partnership and it moved into new buildings funded by Holywood Parish. The first phase of this new development, opened 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 and we continue to develop these with Bishop Moses.
What part can we play?
All gifts are channelled through CMSI. This arrangement offers accountability and partnership in responding to the huge needs in Mardi diocese.
Recent giving from within Down and Dromore (2020) was spent on:
- Financial support for Pastor/Evangelists through the payment of stipends given that churches were not able to meet due to Covid–19, therefore there were no offerings being received (stipends are covered directly from offerings in Maridi):
- Provision of seeds for planting, oil for cooking, food to eat, soap for hygiene and protection:
- Purchase of 20 bicycles for Evangelists to carry them and their message (Gospel and Covid–19 awareness) into more remote communities:
- The building of an extension to the Bethsaida clinic currently being used during this rainy season as a shelter for those waiting for treatment:
- Support for ministry students stranded in Uganda following closure of borders during lockdown.
If a parish is interested in engaging in a more meaningful relationship with Maridi through a partnership link, then they should contact Linda Abwa at CMSI, Belfast Office on (028) 9077 5020 or email email@example.com.
*The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistical tool used to measure a country’s overall achievement in its social and economic dimensions. The social and economic dimensions of a country are based on the health of people, their level of education attainment and their standard of living.