This Week at St. Stephen’s–October 28, 2012 Special Edition

THE STORY OF JOHN FROM THE SOUTH OF SUDAN

One of the many gifts of Christian community is the storytelling shared by its members. A church puts us in contact with people whose lives are not like our own, whose stories both challenge and enrich us.

Take the story of John from the South Sudan. Until last year John had not returned home in 28 years, having been a refugee in Syria and then an immigrant to Canada. As civil strife and ethnic tensions raged in his home country, leading to the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, John could only watch helplessly from afar as word trickled back about the welfare of his family members.

So last year, through a major gift to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund, we helped to send John home for a visit. We sent him with a small amount of cash to help with his expenses, but also with a mission: to return with suggestions of ways we might be able to help.

The new nation of South Sudan is desperately poor. John’s family lives in several villages in the sparsely populated central region of the country, where flooding is an annual threat, where there are no security forces to protect the villagers from incursions by marauding bandits, and where UN and medical services are several days’ walk away. These are difficulties too great and complex for us to alter.

But John has told us there is something we can do to help provide a better future for the South Sudanese. Education being the great equalizer, the local schools need notebooks and pencils, without which the children cannot do their work. The expense to us would be nominal, yet the effect would be far-reaching.

So we are now receiving special donations to our Outreach Beyond fund in order to supply the two schools of John’s home town with school supplies. Cheques can be made out to “St. Stephen’s Church” with “Outreach Beyond” as a Memo.

As the world becomes smaller, and our furthest neighbours show up as members of our own congregation, their stories become our own, and we feel compelled to play a part—however small—in the “healing of the nations”. Thank you for your generous response.

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