For the South Sudanese, the journey of life has been marked by long stretches of violence, deprivation, and desperation with only occasional glimmers of peace peeking through for short periods of time. Yet in something that is so easily overlooked, God’s hope is reaffirmed. Each day as the rays of sunshine push back the darkness of night, His mercies are made new to us as the prophet Jeremiah notes. Each dawn brings with it renewed hope. Two thousand years ago, there was a dawn that broke the darkness once and for all so that we might never again have to live in fear. As Jesus’ followers cowered in the darkness of an upper room, hope was in short supply and one can only imagine the thick despair that weighed on them that Friday night and Saturday. And then, Sunday dawned. The stone was rolled away, the Savior risen from the grave and the disciples, indeed the world, forever changed. Shaken from their grief, they embark on a mission to spread the good news of Jesus’ resurrection to the ends of the earth, a mission we are now a part of. All because of a new dawn so many years ago.
Agnes and her many fellow South Sudanese look expectantly for a new dawn of peace. Their hope is strained, stretched, and at times appears illogical. They continue to lack security, basic comforts, and opportunities that we in America can so easily take for granted. South Sudan is a difficult place but the faith of its believers is daily made resilient by their Lord who cannot and will not forsake them. Indeed as Paul says in Romans 8, nothing can separate them from His love. We do not know when or even if peace will return to South Sudan during our lifetimes. What is known is that the story of Easter, the message of the gospel, of Jesus’ resurrection and gift of salvation to all who believe, is the only means of obtaining lasting peace. Our South Sudanese brothers and sisters cling to this message faithfully. They find renewed hope each day in the Prince of Peace and call on all those who will listen to heed the message of the gospel of peace.
So join with Agnes and her fellow believers in South Sudan in clinging to the words of Paul, words written from a prison cell, as he writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).