Sep 21, 2018
In one day seven buses arrive in a plume of dust with 500 newly processed refugees. Children stick their heads out the windows bouncing on their parents’ laps in the oppressive heat. The adults have dazed stares, not knowing what their future holds, as a new reality crashes over them. They’re hungry, hopeless, and no longer own their destinies. South Sudan has endured two horrific civil wars over the last 40 years. The second war of 22 years has killed 1.5 million people and displaced four million others. Nearly one million people live in refugee camps in Uganda. Our partner Shawn Tyler visited three camps this summer.
These camps are designed for long-term displacement, not temporary shelter. Each family is registered and issued a plot of land to build a small mud hut, bathing cubicle, latrine, and garden. The government helps by putting in roads, digging water wells, constructing schools and clinics, and dedicating space for churches, stores, and an orphanage. Pictures can’t capture how close 43,000 families live to each other. I observed a discipleship Bible study and had the opportunity to preach in a church service in one camp. What can you say to refugees? A passage from Job came to my mind, so I talked about when his three friends came to comfort Job, but his suffering was so great they could only sit and be silent for seven days and nights.
Our team in Mbale, Uganda, is working to help thousands of South Sudanese hear God’s messages of peace on the radio each day in their heart language! Irene Masudio, a refugee from Nimule, South Sudan, says the radio programs “teach people to remain hopeful even when hope is shattered.”