On Country’s 3rd Birthday, IMB Missionary Curt Iles Reflects on War-Torn South Sudan

A young displaced Dinka girl is photographed at Faith Baptist Church in Nimule, South Sudan.  Photo by JoAnn Bradberry/IMB.
A young displaced Dinka girl is photographed at Faith Baptist Church in Nimule, South Sudan. Photo by JoAnn Bradberry/IMB.

His name was Independence.

He was a child born on South Sudan’s first day as a new nation. He was the first child born at a Juba hospital shortly after midnight, July 9 2011. The child, like the country, was full of hope and promise.

His parents gave him the full name Moses Independence. Josephine, the mother, expressed high hopes for both her new son and the new country.

In fact, many South Sudanese refer to their nation as “New Sudan.”

Sadly, three years later, fighting has broken out in New Sudan and the future is uncertain.

Baby Independence’s story is even sadder. He died before his first birthday. He became sick and sicker. Doctors and hospitals eventually could no longer help him.

Baby Independence will never see his country grow into a true land of freedom and peace. It shouldn’t surprise us in South Sudan. Infant mortality is high. The average life span of a man is slightly over 54.

That’s what war, poverty and famine do to the health of a nation.

In Africa, the stats of those dying in war zones are not limited to mortars and machine guns. Many more die from malnutrition, opportunistic diseases and famine.

Dead is dead — it doesn’t have to be a bullet.

Since the December 2013 fighting broke out between the rebels and government, many have already written the obituary of New Sudan.

I imagine them saying: “If they can’t get along for no more than two years, what hope is there for this country?”

My home country, America, has been called “The Midwife of South Sudan.” Our government and aid organizations worked hard to broker the peace deal that created the world’s newest nation.

The United States has poured millions of dollars into South Sudan.

America the Midwife is now watching its baby on life support. South Sudan is on life support but where there is breath, there is life. Her breathing is shallow and fitful, but she’s alive.

David Deng, the son of a Dinka chief and an American mother, said it well: “If you’re not an optimist, you have no business being in South Sudan.”

But I believe things can change. Things can get better.

It won’t happen overnight. It won’t be easy, but progress is seldom easy or free.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Baptist Press
Curt Iles

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