Friends in Christ,
As 2014 draws to a close, we want to thank you for your continued partnership with and support of the Lutheran Church of South Sudan (LCSS). We give thanks to God for you and for your willingness to help sustain suffering brothers and sisters in Christ through your prayers and financial support. Thank you for strengthening a Church that proclaims hope in the midst of darkness and despair. Through your support, the Lutheran Church of South Sudan was able to minister to a quarter of a million refugees in the Ethiopia this year.
As you know, this has been a tremendously difficult year for the people of South Sudan. Exactly ten days before Christmas (December 15, 2013) violence erupted in South Sudan's capital. Twenty thousand innocent and unarmed civilians were killed in a door-to-door targeted massacre. This unimaginably inhumane act took place in just three days. The violence that quickly engulfed the whole nation claimed so many lives that the local community and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan lost track of the dead. Towns and cities have been destroyed, millions of people have been displaced internally and left at risk of hunger and starvation, and hundreds of thousands more have sought refuge in neighboring countries. Most of the refugees are women and children. The LCSS—now temporarily headquartered in Gambela, Ethiopia, near the refugee camps—continues to pray for her congregations remaining in South Sudan and for the safety and well-being of those who have not been accounted for. Although the leadership of the LCSS operates from exile in Ethiopia, the church remains in touch with its member congregations inside the country.
The Lutheran Church of South Sudan gives thanks and praise to God for its five growing congregations in the refugee camps in Ethiopia. These congregations have blessedly outgrown the worship tents our supporters helped to purchase. Your support this year also enabled us to erect three tents for worship, to purchase and distribute four hundred hymnals and ten drums, and to establish a theological seminary that will prepare and train faithful pastors.
The establishment of Trinity Lutheran Seminary (TLS) in Gambela, Ethiopia this fall has been one of the most encouraging developments in our ministry during this difficult time. The aim of this theological institution is to prepare and equip faithful leaders to rise above the dividing walls of the conflict and to bring healing and reconciliation to the hurting nation through the proclamation of the Gospel.
We rejoice that twenty future pastors have now completed their first semester of theological preparation. Thanks and praise be to God! Two of these students are enrolled in the Bachelor of Theology (BTh) program at one of Mekane Yesus seminaries, Hosanna Theological Seminary, just outside Addis Ababa, and eighteen are enrolled in our seminary’s Diploma of Theology or our Certificate program. Out of the students studying at TLS, ten are LCSS students and eight come from other refugee denominations in the camps.
Despite the joy of establishing our new seminary, we are not without serious challenges. The Lutheran Church of South Sudan is in dire need of a center to operate its ministry. The initial arrangement made with a local high school in Gambela to host the Trinity Lutheran Seminary didn't work out. The TLS has temporarily been operating in the presbytery compound that the LCSS uses for worship. Some classes are offered under a tree!
Current priorities for LCSS right now include:
- Tuition for theological students
- Funds to build a simple facility in Gambela, Ethiopia (close to refugee camp sites) which would house a church, classrooms, and a library
- The printing of Bibles
- Operating costs and travel expenses between the refugee camps
Thank you for all you have done thus far to support this important ministry during incredibly challenging times. As a new year begins, would you consider an additional offering to help sustain LCSS as we shine a light in the darkness?
Would you also consider either beginning or increasing a monthly donation personally or through your church community? Regular monthly support helps us to provide consistent support to those most in need of the Gospel’s light.
Thank you again for standing with the Lutheran Church of South Sudan. May God bless you.
In Christ's Love,
Rev. Jordan M. Long, President
Lutheran Church of South Sudan
To support the mission of the LCSS, please contact:
Rev. John Kline
Zion Lutheran Church
4300 Beaver Ave.
DesMoines, Iowa 50310
Phone: (515) 270.8142