Whilst on his recent visit to Northern Ireland, it was a privilege and delight to have Bishop Justin Badi and Mama Joyce of Maridi Diocese visit some of our partner parishes and to preach at our Diocesan Synod. The bishop also took part in an event at Stormont.
Over lunch at synod, Bishop Justin gave us an update on the situation in Maridi as civil war continues around them, despite a peace deal being signed in 2015.
During the last 4 years of his studies in Uganda, Bishop Justin has been in and out of the diocese on many occasions, staying for a few months at a time. Mama Joyce and some of the children have been able to remain in Uganda, although, without more financial resources, this situation will prove impossible to maintain.
Pray for wisdom and for the resources to be released so that the children can remain in a safe location.
Maridi Town and the surrounding countryside within a 2–mile radius are currently relatively safe but the area and the church face enormous problems:
- Insecurity, as government and rebel forces engage in violent skirmishes;
- Stretched resources. Since fighting began, 12–14 thousand displaced people have descended on the area – Bishop Justin’s home in the cathedral compound is full of refugees. many of those who were successfully cultivating food outside the town cannot return to their fields and hunger is rife.
- Travel by vehicle is almost impossible. Sporadic and unpredictable violence and the scarcity and high cost of fuel mean most have to walk or travel by bicycle. Some estimates put inflation at 800%;
- For many of the displaced children, education has ceased.
As you can imagine, ministry is both difficult and dangerous. Bishop Tandema of neighbouring Olo Diocese recently had to abandon his sermon as gunfire erupted and he and his congregation had to flee for their lives.
On a more positive note, Fields of Life have built a school at Amaki, another block at Haddow and at the moment they are building at Khazana One. If the situation is stable they will fly into Maridi again in November.
Plans to sink wells are on hold as it has been impossible to move suitable machinery into place.
Please pray first and foremost for peace and stability in South Sudan and for the priests of the diocese as they continue their sacrificial service.