A Horrible Reality
About a month ago, South Sudanese rebels captured the town of Bentiu. Civilians rushed for shelter in mosques, churches and hospitals, but they were not safe there. Rebels entered the buildings, separated people according to ethnicity, and killed those who were not their own.
Shortly before the attack, the people of Bentiu had heard strange broadcasts coming in on the radio. The programs featured new voices—hate-filled voices. They heard voices urging rebel sympathizers to leave the town. Next the voices urged the rebels to rape women who were not of their tribe.
At least 400 people were killed in Bentiu, while at least as many more were wounded.
A Long Struggle
Since December, both government and rebel forces have committed terrible war crimes against each other. Though a new peace treaty was signed recently, violence has continued.
Over one million people have already been displaced because of the fighting, and more will likely follow if the violence continues. Famine is now looming over South Sudan, since no one has been able to farm in the past months. Lack of crops will only add to the growing number of dead.
Words of Hope Urges Peace and Forgiveness
While hate radio has been broadcast in some parts of South Sudan, inciting more violence among the people, Words of Hope radio is focusing on messages of peace and reconciliation. The studio we had planned to build in Nasir has been put on hold until the situation improves, since the area has been recently controlled by the rebels, but broadcasts have been able to continue from our studio in Rumbek.
Before the conflict began, we were producing three programs a week in Rumbek; now new programs are recorded daily.
The sad reality of the impact the hate radio has had on rebel forces underscores for us the importance of the radio medium in East Africa. We are encouraged to combat these messages of hate with messages of Christ’s love.
From the Field
One of our radio producers in South Sudan sent the following update: “Words of Hope radio ministry has played a major role in the political crisis in our young nation, the Republic of South Sudan. Also Words of Hope radio international has made it possible for our people to easily get the message of peace in their houses where others cannot go through the radios that Words of Hope distributed three years ago. Finally, we appreciate the contributions of Words of Hope to our people, and we still need more prayers for peace and stability in this country.”
Words of Hope staff in Uganda have gone into some of the refugee camps there, bringing recordings of programs that focus on peace and conflict resolution. The message is one that encourages those who have been displaced to nurture in themselves a spirit of forgiveness.
The people of South Sudan need the fighting to stop. We believe that God uses the proclamation of Scripture to change hearts, and that is what we will continue to do.
Please support humanitarian aid efforts that are providing food and water for those in South Sudan at this time. Please also support Words of Hope with your gifts and prayers as we seek to minister with the gospel of peace in this troubled land in order to get to the heart of the issues. Pray that in all things, Christ’s peace would reign.