The sanctuary of St. Andrew's in Cairo is decorated with palm arches.
Among the topics the Rev. Kirsten Fryer, an ELCA missionary in Cairo, included in her Lenten newsletter was the turmoil in South Sudan as a result of fighting between the Nuer and Dinka tribes. Some of the refugees from that conflict are now members of St. Andrew's United Church of Cairo, where Kirsten is the pastor. The congregation is a partner with the ELCA. To support Kirsten, or another of the ELCA's more than 240 missionaries in the global church, click here.
We often talk about being Easter people living in a Good Friday world. We believe in the promise of resurrection and cling to it. But that does not shelter or save us from experiencing the heartache and brokenness of violence, illness, hopelessness and despair.
This is particularly true right now for the South Sudanese refugees living in Cairo. Last week, I sat with a few of the active members from both the Nuer and Dinka congregations who updated me on the situations their families and friends are facing in South Sudan. One member has three missing teenage nephews. His sister does not know if her sons are alive or dead. Many members of both the Nuer and Dinka congregations have received news of family members and close friends who have been killed in the fighting. Several weeks ago, a Presbyterian pastor was killed, in spite of his efforts to work for peace. The South Sudanese community in Cairo is reporting an increase in people coming, although official numbers have not yet been released by the United Nation's High Commisioner for Refugees.
When I ask them what to pray for, they say peace. One of the most beautiful things about the St. Andrew's community is that it has allowed for Nuer and Dinka members to come together for worship, to take classes together, and to develop friendships. At a funeral several weeks ago for the husband of one of the members of the Nuer congregation, people from both the Nuer and Dinka congregations gathered to worship and pray. They are able to recognize that there are hardships and mistakes made from both sides. The community has organized several prayer vigils that cross tribal boundaries and embrace the unity that comes in Christ. They gathered together at Christmas and are planning a joint Easter service.
As violence continues in South Sudan (among so many other places in the world), please keep these brothers and sisters in your prayers. Pray for peace. Pray for reconciliation. Pray for resurrection.