Juaibor is located approximately 60 miles west of Nile River city of Malakal and about 80 miles southwest of Bentiu in South Sudan. The village is situated south of the Nile river offering a natural barrier of refuge from the fighting that has been raging near the oil fields of Bentiu. Internally displaced people (IDP’s) from the Nuer ethnic background have been moving into this remote area which is considered traditional Nuer tribal lands.
For several years Mission Aviation Fellowship has been supporting the work of Christian Mission Aid by flying to this remote community every week (weather permitting) . CMA has built a maternity center and health clinic in Juaibor. In comjunction with several other partners, CMA is training pastors and facilitating outreach programs in the region. These tireless workers have to face challenges that could only be overcome through the vital MAF aerial link. Most of the cement, roofing materials, timber, doors and windows for the clinics were flown in by MAF. The maternity clinic in Juaibor and another in nearby Keew was opened only months before the political crisis of December 2013. The clinics have proven to be essential to the health and welfare of these two communities however, each is now in critically short supply of experienced health workers. Government colleges have suspended internships due to ethnic tensions.
Since the crisis, armed conflict has refocused the humanitarian work in South Sudan. Virtually everywhere the migration of people escaping conflict has resulted in a shift to emergency aid while postponing community development projects. Large-scale migration means that crops are left behind. Food shortages near resettling camps become critical necessitating aerial food-drops by the WFP to prevent starvation on an epic scale.
Despite the uncertainty and ever present danger of ethnic violence, the local church in Juaibor has been working diligently to rebuild the church building. The roof had collapsed due to heavy rains and lack of proper materials to span the size of building needed to serve the community. Despite meager financial resources the people of Juaibor have rallied together, determined not to allow tribal issues to over-ride their faith in Christ. With the help of CMA, the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Nairobi , the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, and MAF, Juaibor’s church building is nearing completion. Nuer-language hymn books and the church building will be shared between local congregations from several denominations as well as being used to facilitate pastor training and outreach under CMA’s guidance.
I had mixed emotions as I flew into Juaibor this day. It brought joy to my heart as I listened to some of the workers singing as they unloaded roofing materials. The joy was overshadowed by an awareness that this would likely be the last time that I would be here. I have always been eager to fly into this remote community to support the hard-working and dedicated CMA staff members that I had come to appreciate over the past four years. It was plain to see that MAF flights are vital to their work. It is amazing to see how the communities of Juaibor and nearby Keew are being transformed by the love of Christ.
At its inception, the new nation of South Sudan was so full of hope. Since late December 2013 it has been full of despair, horror and hardship caused by ethnic and political violence. After experiencing the hope and enthusiasm of the crowd that gathered to help unload the church’s roofing materials, I rest assured. If the message of the Gospel can transform this remote community then all of South Sudan can become a place of Hope. We will continue to pray for the peace of Christ in South Sudan.
At the time of this flight our term of service in South Sudan was quickly drawing to a close. Home assignment was only a few weeks away. We have been praying diligently for the Lord to lead us to our next assignment with MAF. We are so blessed that we have had the opportunity to serve the people of South Sudan through the help of hundreds of dedicated and like-minded people who give graciously to support the flying ministry of MAF.
The conflict in South Sudan is difficult to understand. The level of violence and cruelty has evolved through centuries of rivalry over cattle, land and water. Sudan has used these rivalries to destabilize the south during its drive for independence in one of the longest civil wars in history. Many believe that the Khartoum government is supporting the current round of violence but little direct evidence has been openly debated in the international sphere. I found a video on YouTube that explains much. BE ADVISED THAT THE CONTENT IS GRAPHIC AND DISTURBING!