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Pray ~ For South Sudan

 As you go through your day, please keep the people of South Sudan in your prayers, and the GRN team on the ground there. Also, please keep Tom Zurowski (GRN founder and director) in your prayers as he prepares to go to South Sudan once again. Thank you! 


Find us also on Facebook and Instgram! If you ever need to get a hold of the GRN staff please contact us @ 1-606-416-5670, or mail us at 402 Coomer St., Suite 204 Somerset, KY 42503.

 

 

South Sudan rebels break ceasefire - Unmiss ~ South Sudan News

United Nations (UN) has accused South Sudanese rebels of violating a ceasefire by launching an offensive to recapture its former headquarters.

 

The attack on Nasir town was the "most serious resumption of hostilities" since May, the UN said.

 

The rebels said they had seized the town in an act of "self-defence". The government denied the town had fallen.

 

Fighting between government and rebel forces broke out in December, leaving more than a million homeless.

 

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar met in May and recommitted themselves to a ceasefire negotiated in January by regional leaders.

 

Rebel spokesman Lul Kuang said they launched an offensive because of several attempts by government forces to arrest their commander.

 

"The fall of Nasir now paves the way for military resources to be refocused on Poloich Oil Fields, Maban and Malakal," Mr Kuang said in a statement.

 

South Sudanese army spokesman Philip Aguer denied Nasir had fallen following clashes between the two sides.

 

"It is deplorable that this major attack comes at a time when intensive efforts are under way by mediators of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to convince all parties to resume the suspended peace talks in Addis Ababa," Unmiss acting head Raisedon Zenenga said in the statement.

 

"The attack is a clear violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement," he added.

South Sudan is the world's newest state and became independent in 2011.

 

Conflict erupted in December after Mr Kiir accused Mr Machar, his sacked deputy, of plotting a coup.

 

Mr Machar denied the allegation, but then marshalled a rebel army to fight the government.

 

The UN has about 8,500 peacekeepers in South Sudan. They have struggled to contain the conflict.

 

(BBC News - Source) 

 

EU sanctions Peter Gadet, Santino Deng - South Sudan News

 The European Union has imposed sanctions on two South Sudanese military leaders for breaking ceasefire agreements

 

It accused rebel leader Peter Gadet and army commander Santino Deng of links to atrocities over the past six months.

 

Both men are subject to a travel ban and asset freeze.

 

Thousands of people have died in the fighting that erupted between different factions of South Sudan's governing party.

 

More than a million people have fled their homes since a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, escalated into ethnic violence.

 

Gen Gadet defected from the South Sudanese army and joined Mr Machar's rebels shortly after fighting broke out in December 2013.

 

Both men are ethnic Nuers.

 

He is accused of leading the attack on the oil hub of Bentiu in April, in which some 200 civilians were killed, despite a ceasefire agreement.

 

"Peter Gadet is thus responsible for fuelling the cycle of violence, thus obstructing the political process in South Sudan, and for serious human rights violations," the EU said in its official journal.

 

During the capture of Bentiu, non-Nuers were singled out and killed, according to the UN.

 

The rebels broadcast messages on local radio stations, calling for members of President Kiir's Dinka community to be killed and women raped, the UN said.

Mr Machar has previously denied that his forces were responsible for the slaughter.

Mr Deng led the recapture of Bentiu, and so also broke the ceasefire, according to the EU.

President Kiir's spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny rejected the sanctions on Mr Deng, saying they could be a "setback to the peace talks", reports the Reuters news agency.

"There is no government in the world where the army won't fight when someone wanted to overthrow the constitution," he told Reuters.

The sanctions were announced on Thursday but did not take effect until Friday, when the names of the two were released.

The EU said the rapid resumption of talks leading to a formation of a transitional unity government was the only way for South Sudan - which marked its third anniversary of independence this week - to be spared "further violence and famine".

Some four million people face the risk of starvation in South Sudan because of the conflict, according to aid agencies.

(Source BBC News)

 

Hunger Crisis - In South Sudan

 Some four million people in South Sudan are likely to face critical food shortages next month, British aid agencies have warned.

 

But the Disasters Emergency Committee says the cost of mounting an appeal to pay for aid might outweigh donations.

 

South Sudan's president has already warned of "one of worst famines ever".

 

More than a million people have fled their homes since fighting erupted between different factions of South Sudan's ruling party last December.

 

Months of fighting in South Sudan has prevented farmers from planting or harvesting crops, causing food shortages nationwide.

 

Last month, South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011, topped the list of fragile states in this year's index released by The Fund for Peace, a leading US-based research institute.

 

(Source BBC News) 

 

South Sudan 'most fragile state' in world - South Sudan news

 The world's newest country, South Sudan, has topped the list of fragile states in this year's index released by a leading US-based research institute.

 

Chronic instability, fractured leadership and growing ethnic conflict made it the most fragile state, The Fund for Peace said.

 

The top six countries on the index are all in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Afghanistan was listed as the seventh most fragile state followed by Yemen, Haiti and Pakistan. Syria is 15th.

 

The institute has been compiling the index for the past 10 years after analysing social, economic and political indicators.

 

The "most improved" nations in 2014 were Iran, Serbia, Zimbabwe and Cuba, which have all had frosty relations with the US.

 

In contrast, the US and France were among countries where the situation had worsened the most because of "political and economic malaise".

 

South Sudan replaced Somalia at the top of the index - a position it had occupied since 2008.

 

South Sudan government and rebels 'agree to end fighting' - South Sudan News

 

The government and rebels in South Sudan have agreed to end fighting and form a transitional government within 60 days, Ethiopia says.

 

The regional Igad bloc, mediating the conflict, has threatened sanctions if they fail to abide by the agreement.

 

It follows a rare meeting between President Salva Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

 

Thousands have now died in the conflict that started as a political dispute between Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar, his sacked deputy, but escalated into ethnic violence.

More than a million people have fled their homes since fighting erupted last December.

 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced the new agreement on Tuesday, after President Kiir and Mr. Machar met on the sidelines of an Igad summit on Tuesday, 

 

"If they don't abide to this agreement, Igad as an organization will act to implement peace in South Sudan. On that, we have different options including sanctions and [other] punitive actions as well," he said.

 

"There has been a growing tendency to continue with the war," he added, criticizing both sides for breaking a previous ceasefire agreed on 9 May.

 

The US has already imposed sanctions on both sides of the conflict, singling out commanders loyal to both President Kiir and Mr Machar.

 

The violence began in December when Mr Kiir accused his sacked deputy of plotting a coup.

 

Mr Machar denied the allegation, but then marshalled a rebel army to fight the government.

 

The battle assumed ethnic overtones, with Mr Machar relying heavily on fighters from his Nuer ethnic group and Mr Kiir from his Dinka community.

 

Nearly four million people in South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in 2011, are now at risk of serious food insecurity, according to the UN.

 

South Sudan is the world's newest state, becoming independent in 2011 after seceding from Sudan.

 

(Source BBC News) 

 

 

 

 

South Sudan crisis: Donors pledge $600m at conference - South Sudan News

 Donors including the US and the UK have pledged more than $600m in aid to South Sudan at a conference in Norway.


The sum raised will go towards the target of $1.8bn the UN says is needed to help millions facing starvation.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos says it is still possible to prevent a famine in the conflict-torn country.

Thousands have now died in the crisis that started as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his
sacked deputy Riek Machar, but escalated into ethnic violence.

Nearly four million people in South Sudan are now at risk of serious food insecurity.


The UN's humanitarian co-ordinator, Valerie Amos, said there was still "a small window of opportunity" to avert a famine before the rainy season begins
.

"The important thing is to be able to get seeds and so on to people who are in desperate need... so that they are able to plant," Ms Amos sai
d.

The new aid announced at the donors' conference in Oslo on Tuesday included $100m from the UK government, nearly $300m from the US and $75m from the
EU.

Earlier this week President Kiir told the BBC his country faced "one of worst famines ever" unless the current conflict is en
ded.

Mr Kiir has postponed presidential elections due next year to give government and rebel forces more time to achieve reconcilia
tion.

The United Nations has accused both sides of crimes against humanity, including mass killings and gang-rape, and threatened sanctionsagainst those responsible for the vio
lence.

The unrest has assumed ethnic overtones, with Mr Machar relying heavily on fighters from his Nuer ethnic group and Mr Kiir from his Dinka com
munity.

The UN says hundreds of non-Nuers were killed in Bentiu last month when rebel forces captured t
he town.


 

 

 

 

South Sudan's Salva Kiir and Riek Machar to talk in Ethiopia - South Sudan News

 The first face-to-face meeting between South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar since mass violence began in December is due to take place in Ethiopia.


Both men have arrived in the capital, Addis Ababa ahead of the talks.

The conflict in the world's newest state has left thousands dead and more than one million homeless.

The UN has accused both sides of crimes against humanity, including mass killings, sexual slavery and gang-rape.

"Widespread and systematic" atrocities were carried out in homes, hospitals, mosques, churches and UN compounds, a UN report said on Thursday, calling for those responsible to be held accountable.

An estimated five million people are in need of aid, the UN says.

A peace deal was signed by President Kiir and Mr. Machar in January but failed to bring an end to the violence.

A 30-day truce was supposed to have taken effect on Wednesday.

The US says it is not optimistic that Friday's one-day talks will produce an immediate result.

Mr. Machar arrived on Thursday in preparation for the talks in Addis Ababa, while President Kiir flew in on Friday.

Discussions are expected to centre on ending the fighting and power sharing.

South Sudan ministers have said the government's priority is to stop the violence and discuss a "transitional process
".


However, Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin was quoted by Reuters as saying that a transitional government would not be discussed, and that Mr. Kiir would remain leader until the 2015 elections.

The release of and dropping of treason charges against four top South Sudanese politicians is said to have paved the way for talks.

The men's release had been a key demand of the rebels.

"I don't believe that [the two sides] will reach an agreement straight away," US Ambassador to South Sudan Susan Page said during a radio call-in show.

"But if they can agree on a broad-based process on how to resolve the conflict, end the fighting, that would be a step forward."

Ms Page said that people wanted peace and could not understand why the country should have descended into war barely three years since independence.

Correspondents say far-reaching international sanctions could be imposed against both sides if there is no discernible progress in reaching an agreement.

The violence began when President Kiir accused his sacked deputy Mr. Machar, of plotting a coup.

Mr. Machar denied the allegation, but then marshalled a rebel army to fight the government.

The battle assumed ethnic overtones, with Mr. Machar relying heavily on fighters from his Nuer ethnic group and Mr. Kiir from his Dinka community.

The UN has about 8,500 peacekeepers in South Sudan, which became the world's newest state after seceding from Sudan in 2011.

However, they have struggled to contain the conflict, and the government has accused the UN mission of siding with the rebels.

It denies the allegation.

South Sudan gained independence in 2011, breaking way from Sudan after decades of conflict between rebels and the Khartoum government.

It remains one of the world's poorest countries.

"I don't believe that [the two sides] will reach an agreement straight away," US Ambassador to South Sudan Susan Page said during a radio call-in show.

"But if they can agree on a broad-based process on how to resolve the conflict, end the fighting, that would be a step forward."

Ms. Page said that people wanted peace and could not understand why the country should have descended into war barely three years since independence.

Correspondents say far-reaching international sanctions could be imposed against both sides if there is no discernible progress in reaching an agreement.

The violence began when President Kiir accused his sacked deputy Mr. Machar, of plotting a coup.

Mr. Machar denied the allegation, but then marshalled a rebel army to fight the government.

The battle assumed ethnic overtones, with Mr. Machar relying heavily on fighters from his Nuer ethnic group and Mr. Kiir from his Dinka community.

The UN has about 8,500 peacekeepers in South Sudan, which became the world's newest state after seceding from Sudan in 2011.

However, they have struggled to contain the conflict, and the government has accused the UN mission of siding with the rebels.

It denies the allegation.

South Sudan gained independence in 2011, breaking way from Sudan after decades of conflict between rebels and the Khartoum government.


It remains one of the world's poorest countries.


(Source BBC News) 


 

South Sudan sides 'recruit 9,000 children to fight' - South Sudan News

More than 9,000 child soldiers have been fighting in South Sudan's brutal civil war, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has said. 


Both the army and rebel forces had recruited the children, she said.

Ms Pillay said South Sudan faced the threat of a famine, but there was an "apparent lack of concern" on the part of its leaders.

She was speaking at the end of a visit to South Sudan, where the conflict has displaced about a million people.

Fighting broke out in December between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy, Riek Machar.

The two sides negotiated a truce in January and have resumed talks in Ethiopia, but fighting has continued.

Ms Pillay said that apart from recruiting child soldiers, both government and rebel forces have carried out "indiscriminate attacks" which killed civilians, including children.


She met both Mr Kiir and Mr Machar during her visit, and is now due to fly to Ethiopia
.

"The prospect of widespread hunger and malnutrition being inflicted on hundreds of thousands of their people, because of their personal failure to resolve their differences peacefully, did not appear to concern them very much
."

Ms Pillay's visit came amid growing foreign intervention in efforts to end the conflict in South Sudan, the world's newest sta
te.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is due in Ethiopia later on Wednesday, to put pressure on the two sides to negotiate a peace d
eal.

On Friday, South Sudan's government released four politicians accused of plotting a coup, meeting a key rebel de
mand.

The UN Security Council has threatened sanctions against those responsible for the continuing vio
lence.

It has condemned the the mass killings of hundreds of civilians in the town of Bentiu, capital of the oil-rich Unity State, earlier this
month.

(Source BBC
News)


 

 

 

 

World Malaria Day

 

April 25th is World Malaria Day. 


Malaria kills 2,800 toddlers (1-5 yrs) every day in Africa.

 

For many years GRN has served the people of South Sudan by distributing mosquito nets to the poor and needy. FACT...mosquito nets save lives. You can help save a life for less than the cost of a lunch or a couple trips to the coffee shop. GRN will be distributing nets to the people of Koggi very soon. Rainy season has just begun and the need for nets is great. Please go to our website ( www.grnconnect.org/donate ) and make a donation today. And remember... EVERY PENNY that you designate for mosquito nets goes toward the purchase of mosquito nets. Thank you for your heart of compassion.

 

 

South Sudan attacks an abomination, says White House - South Sudan Update

 The massacre of hundreds of civilians in South Sudan is an "abomination" and a betrayal of the people by their leaders, the White House has said.


Rebels have denied a UN report that they killed civilians after taking over the oil hub of Bentiu last week.
 

The US statement said President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar must make it clear that such attacks were unacceptable.

 

 

More than a million people have since been forced from their homes.


Talks between the two sides which were due to resume on Wednesday in neighboring Ethiopia have been delayed until 27 April.

China, a major investor in South Sudan's oil industry, also expressed concern about the violence.

"We strongly condemn this and urge all sides in South Sudan, including the opposition and the authorities, to keep pushing political dialogue to resolve the relevant issues," Reuters news agency quotes foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang as saying.

"We also ask that the South Sudanese authorities provide protection to China's reasonable rights in South Sudan and the safety of Chinese nationals," he said.

The conflict pits Mr Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, against his former Vice-President, Mr Machar, from the Nuer community.


 

"We are horrified by reports out of South Sudan that fighters aligned with rebel leader Riek Machar massacred hundreds of innocent civilians last week in Bentiu," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

 


"Images and accounts of the attacks shock the conscience: Stacks of bodies found dead inside a mosque, patients murdered at a hospital, and dozens more shot and killed in the streets and at a church - apparently due to their ethnicity and nationality - while hate speech was broadcast on local radio," Mr Carney said.

Correspondents say last week's killings in Bentiu are among the most shocking since the conflict began.

Rebel commander Brig Lul Ruai Koang told the BBC on Tuesday that the rebel soldiers had not killed any civilians in Bentiu.

 

 

 

Bentiu, capital of the oil-rich Unity State, has changed hands several times during the conflict.


Control of the oilfields is crucial because South Sudan gets about 90% of its revenue from oil.

Mr Carney said that US officials were also appalled by an armed attack last week on the UN camp in Bor in Jonglei State in which at least 58 people were killed.

The UN has said it could constitute a war crime.

"These acts of violence are an abomination. They are a betrayal of the trust the South Sudanese people have put in their leaders," he said.

Both Mr Kiir and Mr Machar have prominent supporters from various communities, but there have been numerous reports of rebels killing Dinkas and the army targeting Nuers.

Fighting broke out last year after Mr Kiir accused Mr Machar of plotting to stage a coup.

Mr Machar, who was sacked as vice-president earlier in 2013, denied the charges but launched a rebellion.

The UN has about 8,500 peacekeepers in South Sudan, which became the world newest state after seceding from Sudan in 2011.

 

(Source BBC News)



 

 



 

 



 

Running Water In Koggi!

 For the first time since we began working in South Sudan (1999), we will have running water. Our sincere thanks to all of GRN's partners for making this possible. Camp Koggi is really coming together nicely! Praise God! See pictures below!

 

St. Patrick's Day ~ The Real Story

 People often mistake March 17 as a birthday celebration for St. Patrick. Actually, no one knows the true date when Patrick was born. March 17 is the known date when he died at ripe old age. Although it is not clear exactly when he was born, much speculation leads to the year of 387 AD,  during the reign of Roman Emperor Theodocius I (r.379 to 395), who, after his own conversion, converted the entire Empire to Christianity in 380.


In addition, though it is not clear where baby Patrick was born, many historians have speculated that it was along the western coast of Britainnia somewhere between the border of present day Scotland and Hadrian’s Wall, which was built by the Romans to keep the ancient Picts away from the “civilized” Roman domain of Britainnia. Despite being born in Scotland, Patrick technically would not have become Scottish by birth. He was born a Roman citizen. He was born to Calpurnius and Conchessa, a Roman couple who gave their child an appropriate Roman name: “Patricius” which means “noble of the patrician class,” referring to the class that had ruled Rome since the early Republic.

One ominous day, while his parents were in the nearby village, Patricius was home at the family’s country villa near the Scottish coast, and Celtic slave raiders stormed the villa and captured the young man along with a number of other potential slaves. Put in irons, the slaves were marched to awaiting boats that took them across the Irish Sea to Ireland. Young Patricius was taken to a Druid Chieftain known as Milchu who forced him to tend his flocks of sheep on land in the northeast of Ireland believed to be in an area that is known today as County Antrim, where Belfast is located. It is in this area, supposedly near Slemish Mountain, where Patricius served as a shepherd for six years.


Looking back upon this time, St. Patrick later explained that he accepted his enslavement because he had committed a serious crime in which he broke religious laws (possibly one of the Ten Commandments). Because of this, he felt no desire to escape, but while a slave and out tending the sheep, he spent much time in prayer, repairing and re-developing a relationship with God. He declares in his “Confessio” his pride in the fact that he prayed every day, several times a day:

“… and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me.


During this period, as he tended the flocks, young Patricius grew up, and he testified that as he continued to pray, he began to develop a genuine relationship with God that fundamentally transformed his life. Eventually, he confessed that he heard God’s voice telling him that he could leave Ireland. When he first heard the voice, he dismissed it, and he could not believe he heard it – long before psychiatrists would describe this as “denial.” However, when Patricius heard the voice again, he moved past his resistance to the voice. Patrick write the voice was quite clear: “Behold, your ship is ready.” The also voice instructed him how to find the ship, but he would have to walk across Ireland to reach it.

After six years as a captive, he planned his escape, and later Patrick explained that the hardest part was not the journey, for he was a healthy young man and had endured all kinds of weather during the years he tended the flocks. His real fear was that fugitive slaves, when caught, were taken to the local king, punished, and returned to their masters who punished them again. Patrick realized that he could not ask for help for fear he would be discovered as a run-away once he opened his mouth and people heard his Scottish accent. He also explained later that he felt he had received permission to walk away from slavery, but no permission to break the Ten Commandments and he was determined not to steal food from others.

Patrick overcame the fear that Ireland had a fugitive slave law, and as for food, he had fasted quite often while in captivity, so the young slave was used to going without food. Stuffing the food his master would have provided for his meal into his pockets, Patrick made off in the middle of the night. The 200 mile trek from the north to the south and west of Ireland was not much of a problem for the young man, and he found the ship as the voice had directed him. However, Patrick explained that the most difficult portion of his journey was persuading the captain to provide him passage home. He would have to reveal himself to the ship’s captain and crew, which meant he was at their mercy.


St. Patrick’s testimony later in his life reveals how much during this time he transformed:

“God used the time to shape and mold me into something better. He made me into what I am now – someone very different from what I once was, someone who can care about others and work to help them. Before I was a slave, I didn’t even care about myself.


When Patrick went back to Ireland as a Bishop of the Church, he had no fear of the Druid’s religious beliefs, nor any fear of the barbaric methods of intimidation toward other religions from the Druid priests and chieftains who controlled the country. Beyond this, while he was a young man, he had fallen in love with the land, and he had fallen in love with God in the Emerald Isle.

Common myths and misunderstandings may prevail regarding Ireland’s patron saint; yet, behind all of the myths, there is a very real man that contemporary celebrations completely miss.

Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


 

A Story of Grace

In 2009, local South Sudanese officials called us while we were at our compound in Loka to come and meet someone. When we arrived in Lainya, we were introduced to a young girl named Grace. We were told that she had just arrived home from Uganda after escaping from Joseph Kony’s, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). 


As she sat and talked with us she shared the horror of being taken from her village by young LRA soldiers at 13 years old thinking she would never see her family again. Her mother remembers coming home and Grace being gone with no idea where she was. Grace would not return home for a little over a year. All that time her mother had no idea where she was or if she would ever hold her daughter again (Grace’s father had died some years before).

During the year she spent with the LRA, Grace experienced things that no one ever should. She was raped regularly and she watched people be killed and tortured. Grace told us that she walked from morning until night and then was forced to sleep under a plastic tarp, so she wouldn’t run away. She told us that the “team” of soldiers she was with were given the job of collecting weapons supplied by Sudan (dropped from planes by the north into South Sudan) and carry them back to The People’s Republic of Congo.

During a firefight with the Ugandan army, Grace took a chance and stood up with bullets flying all around her. A Ugandan soldier saw her and pushed her to the ground while still firing on the LRA. The soldier laid his body over Grace to cover her from the bullets. Within 2 days Grace was returned home to her mother. They were both shocked and overwhelmed when we met them that May afternoon.

From that day on, GRN has provided help for Grace and her mom. By Grace’s request, we moved her and her mother to different location to go to school, receive counseling, and start her life over again. Since that time Grace has finished school and has graduated vocational training. Recently, she has been awarded her own sowing machine and her own micro business.

 

Thanks be to God, Grace is well on her way to entering in to a "normal" life, that was once taken from her.

 

Please continue to pray for Grace, as she starts this new chapter in her life. Thank you!  


 

 


 

A Word - From Dickson Mutiso

 Things are going well here, at Camp Koggi, by the grace of God. We (the GRN Team on the ground) were so blessed to have Tom, while this country is still bleeding from the December15th, 2013 civil unrest! Thank you to all who made it possible for him to be with us here.


 
We thank everyone for their support (in prayers, moral and material support). Without them times would have been tougher; for we believe in prayers to God as you do.

We appreciate the gift of the 10Kva generator and its installation (sitting in its new house). It is working smoothly, and is super silent, just as the seller said!

The brick laying work is going well at the camp, and next week we hope to start getting firewood to burn the dry ones. (Bricks for a new church, GRN building, ect.)
 
May our Lord God shower you with His blessings abundantly, in Jesus name, Amen.

With love,

Dickson Mutiso

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

South Sudan ceasefire 'ends' amid Malakal fighting ~ South Sudan News

 Fighting has broken out in South Sudan's Upper Nile state, officials say, in the first major clashes since the government and rebels signed a ceasefire agreement in January.


Both sides have accused each other of starting the violence in Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile state.

The government says there has been fighting in most parts of the town.

The clashes will again fuel concerns over the security of oilfields in the north - the backbone of the economy.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

The rebels are well-equipped”

Ateny Wek Ateny
President Salva Kiir's spokesman
The UN representative in the capital, Juba, urged all parties in the world's newest country to protect civilians.

"Hostilities have this morning broken out in Malakal: All parties engaged in the violence must uphold people's rights and protect non-combatants," UN humanitarian co-ordinator in South Sudan Toby Lanzer tweeted.

Mr Lanzer told the BBC earlier this month that $1.3bn (£790m) was needed to deal with the South Sudan crisis.

Ceasefire violations
Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told the BBC that the rebel attack had begun at 07:50 local time (04:50 GMT).

"The rebels are using assault rifles - AK-47. And they have some RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and a number of other machine-guns. They are well-equipped," he told World Update on the BBC World Service.

But the rebels' military spokesman, Brig Gen Lul Ruai, accused the government forces, with the support of the Ugandan army, of attacking their positions south and east of the oil town.

He told the BBC that the Ugandan forces had bombed their positions from air and that the rebels had repulsed the attack.

Uganda has denied involvement and says it is withdrawing some of its troops, which are aligned to South Sudan President Salva Kiir, from the country.


Upper Nile administration spokesman Philip Jiben told Reuters news agency the fighting was continuing, but government forces were "still in control of Malakal".

 

 

President Kiir's government and rebels who support Mr. Machar have each accused the other of violating the 23 January ceasefire that was brokered by neighbouring East African states.

 

Malakal - a dusty market town which serves as the gateway to the oilfields of the Upper Nile region - has been at the centre of clashes and has repeatedly changed hands.

Last month the army said that it had recaptured the town after days of heavy fighting.

Mr. Machar says he controls all anti-government forces, but analysts say that the loyalty of some of them is questionable and some are pursuing their own agendas.

The UN says about 860,000 people have fled their homes since the conflict began on 15 December.

What started as a political dispute between Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar escalated into full-scale conflict and thousands have been killed.

Although both men have supporters from across South Sudan's ethnic divides, fighting has often been communal, with rebels targeting members of Mr. Kiir's Dinka ethnic group and government soldiers attacking Nuers, the group from which Mr. Machar hails.

The BBC's Anne Soy says the ceasefire was agreed after talks in neighbouring Ethiopia but the fighting in Malakal is likely to further complicate the negotiations.

The second phase of talks got off to a shaky start last week over uncertainty about the participation of seven prominent politicians released from custody by South Sudan's government, she says.

 

They were part of a group of 11 of Mr. Machar's allies detained after what the authorities allege was a "coup attempt" in December - another four of the detainees remain in custody in Juba facing treason charges. They all strongly deny the charges.

 

(Source BBC News)

 

 

South Sudan conflict: New peace talks begin ~ South Sudan News

 Fresh talks to resolve the crisis in South Sudan have opened in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, more than two weeks after a ceasefire was signed.


Rebels agreed to continue the dialogue despite the government's refusal to release four high-profile detainees.

Both sides have accused each other of violating the ceasefire to end the conflict in the world's newest nation.

Thousands of people have died and more than 868,000 have fled their homes since it began on 15 December.

The UN says about 723,000 people have been displaced inside South Sudan and another 145,000 have fled to nearby countries, with Ethiopia receiving the largest increase in recent arrivals.

It started as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, but escalated into full-scale conflict, with some of the fighting along ethnic lines.

 

 

Regional mediators say the focus of the peace talks will be on political dialogue and national reconciliation in South Sudan, which gained its independence in July 2011.

BBC says finding some sort of political settlement between the warring parties will not be easy and a political deal alone will not be enough to resolve the country's problems.

It will take a broader process, involving a wider spectrum of society, addressing community healing across South Sudan, which is one of the world's least developed nations.

'Hiding in the bush’

Rebel negotiators agreed to continue with talks after they say they received assurances that their demands would be addressed - these include the release of detainees and the withdrawal of Ugandan troops aligned to Mr Kiir.

Eleven prominent political figures from a faction of the governing SPLM party, who are allies of Mr Machar, were taken into custody when Mr Kiir first made the allegations of an attempted coup.

Seven of the detainees have been released into Kenyan custody and may attend the talks, but four remain in jail in South Sudan's capital, Juba.

Meanwhile, the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres says thousands of people are facing life threatening conditions in the bush near the town of Leer in Unity state.

MSF staff members fled Leer hospital on 30 January just before the town came under attack, taking the most critically ill patients with them.

"The staff who remain in touch with MSF report that worsening security has pushed them further into the bush," Raphael Gorgeu, MSF's head of mission in South Sudan said in a statement.

"They have split into smaller groups to decrease the chance of attack and divided their supplies of medicines, which they are saving to treat only the most life-threatening cases."

 

(Source: BBC News)

 



 

South Sudan 'coup leaders' face treason trial ~ South Sudan News

 

 

Seven South Sudanese rebel leaders face charges of treason over an alleged coup attempt that sparked weeks of fighting, the authorities have said.


Justice Minister Paulino Wanawila said those facing trial included former Vice President Riek Machar, who has not yet been captured.

The government had previously indicated that it might grant an amnesty, after signing a truce last Thursday.

Correspondents say the charges could jeopardise the ceasefire deal.

Mr. Wanawila said treason charges would be brought against four men who were already in custody, plus three men on the run.

"If someone violates the law you don't go and torture that person, you prosecute that person according to the law," he said.

The government confirmed that some of those detained after the fighting broke out have been released.

It underscores the animosity between the government of President Salva Kiir and the rebels, many of whom are loyal to Mr. Machar.

Although both men have supporters from across South Sudan's ethnic divides, fighting has often been communal, with rebels targeting members of Mr. Kiir's Dinka ethnic group and government soldiers attacking Nuers.

Mr. Kiir accused Mr. Machar and other former officials of attempting a coup after fighting broke out in the capital Juba on 15 December, something Mr. Machar denies.

While Mr. Machar fled, 11 officials were arrested. Rebels have made their release a condition of any peace deal.

On Wednesday, the government announced that seven of those officials have now been freed and flown to Kenya, but the other four will be put on trial.

The seven men targeted for trial include:

- Riek Machar, whose sacking as Mr Kiir's deputy sparked much of the unrest

- Pagan Amum, former secretary general of the ruling party

- Former National Security Minister Oyai Deng Ajak

- Former ambassador to the US Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth

- Chief rebel delegate Taban Deng, who signed the ceasefire

Both sides say they are committed to the ceasefire, but there is still fighting in some areas, and the United Nations has described the situation as "fragile".

Aid groups say up to 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and more than 500,000 displaced, approximately 76,000 of them sheltering in UN bases.

The UN's aid chief Valerie Amos has wrapped up a three-day visit to the country with a trip to Malakal, where she said some people were afraid to return home despite the truce.

Baroness Amos said the people she spoke to said they had "completely lost faith'' and wanted to be relocated to other parts of South Sudan, or even out of the country.


 

(Source BBC News) 

South Sudan ceasefire takes effect ~ South Sudan News

 A ceasefire agreement has come into effect in South Sudan, despite allegations of fresh attacks.


UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said there had been "sporadic fighting" in certain areas, some of it after the ceasefire had begun.

The government and rebels signed the ceasefire agreement on Thursday after talks in Ethiopia.

More than 500,000 people have been forced from their homes during the month-long conflict.

Correspondents say that effective monitoring of the truce will be vital, as tension between the two sides is very high.

The talks have now been adjourned and are due to continue on 7 February.

Skimishes

 

 

Earlier, Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang, a spokesman for the opposition, accused government forces of attacking rebel positions in Unity state and Jonglei state on Friday.


Military spokesman Colonel Philip Aguer said he was not aware of any new violence, and that clashes had taken place before the ceasefire was signed.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there was a "necessity to continue without delay a national political dialogue to reach a comprehensive peace agreement".

His spokesman, Farhan Haq, said the dialogue should include all political and civil society representatives as well as detainees from the rebel side.

The UN's World Food Programme said on Friday that more than 3,700 tonnes of food, enough to feed 220,000 people for a month, had been stolen from its warehouses during the fighting.

In the past week, government forces have recaptured the two main cities that were under rebel control.

The agreement is thought to address the issue of 11 detainees whom the rebels wanted freed, and whose fate had previously left the talks deadlocked.

The detainees - allies of rebel leader Riek Machar and prominent political figures from a faction of the governing SPLM party - were taken into custody when President Salva Kiir first made the allegations of an attempted coup - which Mr Machar denies.

Although both men have supporters from across South Sudan's ethnic divides, the fighting has often become communal with rebels targeting members of Mr Kiir Dinka ethnic group and soldiers attacking Nuers.

 

South Sudan is the world's newest state after gaining independence in 2011. It remains one of the least developed countries.

 

(Source BBC News)

 

 

 

 

New Motorbike for Camp Koggi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We (GRN) were able to purchase a brand new motorbike (Through the generous giving of VOM Canada), that is needed for our work in Camp Koggi.


It is a good sound Honda XL1125 motorbike. The paper work process went through, and Dickson (GRN's field coordinator) is on his way back to South Sudan, from Uganda.

Thank you so much for the prayers!

 

South Sudan rivals sign ceasefire agreement ~ South Sudan News

South Sudan's government and rebels have signed a ceasefire agreement after talks in Ethiopia.


Under the deal, signed in a hotel in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the fighting is due to come to an end within 24 hours.

In the past week, government forces have recaptured the two main cities under rebel control.

More than 500,000 people have been forced from their homes during the month-long conflict.

"These two agreements are the ingredients to create an environment for achieving a total peace in my country," said Taban Deng, head of the rebel delegation, AFP reports.

However, the South Sudanese government has expressed scepticism over whether the opposition will be able to control all the militias involved in fighting, the BBC's Anne Soy reports.

Effective monitoring of the truce will be vital once it begins, as tension between the two sides is very high, South Sudan analyst James Copnall says.

The talks have now been adjourned and are due to continue on 7 February.

What started out as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar on 15 December escalated into full-scale conflict, with reports of ethnic killings.

A ceremony to mark the signing of the agreement on the "cessation of hostilities and the question of the detainees" took place at the hotel where the talks were hosted.

The agreement is thought to address the issue of 11 detainees whom the rebels wanted freed, and whose fate had previously left the talks deadlocked.

The detainees - allies of Mr Machar and prominent political figures from a faction of the governing SPLM party - were taken into custody when Mr Kiir first made the allegations of an attempted coup - which Mr Machar denies.

The South Sudanese government had earlier said on its Twitter feed that it envisaged an amnesty for the detainees but only after their cases had been heard in court.

Another key rebel demand was for Ugandan troops fighting alongside the government forces to be withdrawn.

The question of Uganda's role was not raised during the signing ceremony but members of the rebel delegation said that they would bring up the issue again during the second round of talks, journalist Matthew Newsome told the BBC from Addis Ababa.

The US welcomed the deal, calling it a "critical first step" and urged both sides to "fully and swiftly implement the agreement".

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague also welcomed the ceasefire and called for an "inclusive process of national reconciliation".

Last week, the UN human rights chief said both government soldiers and rebels had committed atrocities in South Sudan, one of the world's poorest countries.

More than 70,000 civilians are seeking shelter at UN bases across South Sudan, and the UN estimates that considerably more than 1,000 have been killed.

 

Following the outbreak of hostilities, it was agreed to boost the UN force and an extra 5,500 peacekeepers are being deployed to South Sudan, to bring its strength up to 12,500.

 

(Source BBC News)

 

 

South Sudan rivals 'to sign truce' ~ South Sudan News

South Sudan's government and rebels are to sign a ceasefire shortly, mediators in Ethiopia say.


The talks had been deadlocked over the issue of 11 political detainees, whom the rebels want to be freed before discussing a ceasefire.

In the past week, government forces have recaptured the two main cities under rebel control.

More than 500,000 people have been forced from their homes during the month-long conflict.


 

What started out as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar on 15 December has escalated into full-scale conflict, with reports of ethnic killings.

 


Mediators said they expected the rival parties to sign agreements on the "cessation of hostilities and the question of the detainees" at the hotel in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, where the talks have been taking place.


The rebels have been demanding the release of Mr Machar's political allies, prominent political figures from a faction of the governing SPLM party.

They were detained when Mr Kiir first made the allegations of an attempted coup - which Mr Machar denies.

Another key rebel demand was for Ugandan troops fighting alongside the government forces to be withdrawn.

Last week, the UN human rights chief said both government soldiers and rebels had committed atrocities in South Sudan, one of the world's poorest countries.

More than 70,000 civilians are seeking shelter at UN bases across South Sudan and the UN estimates that considerably more than 1,000 have been killed.

Following the outbreak of hostilities, it was agreed to boost the UN force and an extra 5,500 peacekeepers are being deployed to South Sudan, to bring its strength up to 12,500.


(Source BBC News)

 

Please continue to pray for the peace of South Sudan, and for the GRN team on the ground there! Thank you and God bless!




 

New Motorbike ~ A Message From Dickson Mutiso

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings,


We (GRN) were able to purchase a brand new motorbike (Through the generous giving of VOM Canada), that is needed for our work in Camp Koggi.

It is a good sound Honda XL1125 motorbike. The company has begun the paper work process, and tomorrow I may be sitting with the clearing agent at the revenue office till everything is ready.

Please pray for me to have patience and words of wisdom in Jesus Name.

Please look at some of the photos I have taken of the new motorbike. It is sweet!

 

Thank you and love to all!

South Sudan President Salva Kiir hits out at UN ~ South Sudan News

South Sudan President Salva Kiir has accused the UN peacekeeping mission of acting like a "parallel government" in his country.

 

His comments come after his government accused the UN of hiding rebels and guns at their camps - which it denies.

 

More than 70,000 civilians are seeking shelter at UN bases across South Sudan after fighting broke out last month.


The UN says both government soldiers and rebels have committed atrocities in one of the world's poorest countries.

 

Around 500,000 people have been displaced and the UN estimates that considerably more than 1,000 have been killed.

 

  'Zero policy towards weapons'


Mr. Kiir made his comments, broadcast on national TV, following the weekend capture of Bor from rebel forces.

The South Sudanese army also says it has recaptured the key town of Malakal after days of heavy fighting, though this is disputed by the rebels.

Friction with the UN followed an attempt on Sunday by the information minister to forcibly gain access to the UN base in Bor, where they believed armed rebels were hiding.

In a statement, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he was "alarmed" and "disturbed" by the threat to staff of the UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss).

"We did not know that when the Unmiss was brought to South Sudan, they were brought as a parallel government with the government in South Sudan," Mr. Kiir said.

"They fell short of naming the chief of the Unmiss as a co-president of the Republic of South Sudan.

"If that is the position of Ban Ki-moon, he should make it clear that he wants the UN to take over South Sudan."


 

Civilians are seeking protection at eight UN bases in South Sudan where there has more than UN 7,000 troops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unmiss spokesperson told the BBC the UN was impartial and had a "zero tolerance policy towards weapons" in its camps.


"When people come to our sites with weapons, uniforms - military equipment of any sort - it has been given to us to make sure that the site have a civilian nature," Ariane Quentier told the BBC's Focus on Africa radio programmed.

'Love story
'

Ms. Quentier said the UN was in discussion with the government about handing over such confiscated items and denied that the UN was sheltering rebels.

"It is very clear that we have a number of people that we cannot check individually but just the mere fact that we have 70-80% women and children is a clear indication that we're not sheltering rebels," she said, adding that she was sure relations with the government would improve.

"Like in every love story there are ups and downs - we may be a bit down these days but we are very confident that things will come back to normal."

Mr. Kiir also accused other humanitarian organizations of supporting Mr. Machar.

Talks to try to find a ceasefire are continuing in Ethiopia.

Mr Kiir reiterated his stance that he wants an unconditional end to hostilities - and will not release 11 political detainees, a key demand of Mr Machar.

But he said the government had "space in its heart" to forgive Mr Machar.

He also urged his people to stop "the practice of a brother killing a brother" and "the practice of destruction".

Mr Machar has said he will not sign a peace deal unless Ugandan troops fighting alongside the government forces are withdrawn.

Nine Ugandan soldiers died in a rebel ambush at Gemeza a week ago, and 12 others had been killed in total since 23 December, Uganda's military spokesman, Col Paddy Ankunda, said on Twitter.

The Ugandan army was "not intent on staying for long in South Sudan", he said.

 

(Source BBC News)

 

Please continue to pray for the peace of South Sudan, and for the GRN team on the ground there! Thank you and God bless!

 

 

 

Key South Sudan town of Bor 'recaptured from rebels' ~ South Sudan News

 The strategic South Sudanese town of Bor has been recaptured from rebel forces, an army spokesman has said.


Government forces had defeated more than 15,000 rebel troops in Bor, army spokesman Philip Aguer said. There has been no comment from the rebels.

Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, has changed hands several times in a month-long conflict that is believed to have left thousands dead.

Talks to try to find a ceasefire are continuing in Ethiopia.

The conflict between rebel and government forces broke out on 15 December. President Salva Kiir has accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup - an accusation he denies.

The dispute has seen killings along ethnic lines - Mr. Kiir is a member of the Dinka community, the country's largest, while Mr. Machar is from the Nuer ethnic group.

On Thursday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni confirmed Ugandan troops were now fighting alongside government forces against the rebels.

 

'Malakal attack'

 

Col Aguer told reporters that previous assaults had weakened the rebels in Bor and no further fighting was needed on Saturday.

 

He said the victory had eliminated the psychological pressure of a rebel attack on the capital, Juba, 200km (130 miles) south of Bor.


 Col Aguer also said the focus would now fall on the town of Malakal, still party controlled by the rebels, with the government forces planning an imminent attack.

But Col Aguer admitted maintaining communication with government forces there was "difficult
".

Talks to try to agree a ceasefire are continuing in a hotel in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Aba
ba.

There have been conflicting reports about progress in the discussions, but no breakthrough has yet been signal
led.

Our correspondent says it is widely believed that the talks have stalled because both sides are aiming for an upper hand in the fighting before real negotiations b
egin.

The release of political detainees continues to be a key issue that must be res
olved.

On Friday, UN Human Rights fact finder Ivan Simonovic told the BBC that Bor and Bentiu, which have both changed hands a number of times, were now "ghost
towns".

Mr Simonovic said both government soldiers and rebels had committed atr
ocities.

He said there had been reports of "mass killings, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, sexual violence, widespread destruction and looting of property and use of the children in co
nflict".

(Source BBC News)
 

Please continue to pray for the peace of South Sudan, and for the GRN team on the ground there! Thank you and God bless!

 

 

South Sudan conflict: UN says atrocities on both sides ~ South Sudan News

 Both sides in South Sudan's conflict have carried out atrocities, a UN human rights chief has said.

 

In a BBC interview, Ivan Simonovic said the towns of Bor and Bentiu - which had changed hands a number of times - were now "ghost towns".

He was speaking after visiting South Sudan to prepare a report for the UN.

Several thousand people are believed to have been killed over the past month in the conflict between the government and the rebel
s.

'Looted and burned'Mr Simonovic told the BBC that both government soldiers and rebels had committed atr

 

"The level of involvement in the atrocities was different in different locations."ocities.

 

 

Destruction of Rubkona, Unity State

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- Satellite images obtained by the UN on 2 January and 13 January show the destruction of the northern town of Rubkona, not far from Bentiu, an area that has seen heavy fighting.


- Preliminary UN analysis concludes the majority of the town was destroyed, primarily by fire. Almost 4,000 burned or other damaged buildings were identified in the area.

 

- The UN says there is also evidence of looting, with piles of debris in multiple locations.

 

Mr. Simonovic said that worst-affected were the southern town of Bor, and Bentiu in the north of the country.


Bentiu has been all but wiped out after weeks of fighting



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Bor is empty and Bentiu does not exist anymore; it has been wiped out. It has not been only looted, it has been burned," Mr Simonovic told the BBC.

 

"You can find citizens only in camps for displaced persons. What is appalling is that you have an ethnicised truth, how conflict began, who is targeting civilians.

"I do think it is essential to have an enhanced monitoring and reporting on atrocities that have taken place."

Mr Simonovic said his team's report would be released in a couple of weeks' time.

The conflict broke out on 15 December, when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup - charges he denies.

 

(Source: BBC News) 

 

Please continue to pray for the peace of South Sudan, and for the GRN team on the ground there! Thank you and God bless!



 

South Sudan Nile ferry sinks with more than 200 dead - South Sudan News

 More than 200 civilians in South Sudan have drowned in a Nile ferry accident while fleeing fighting in the town of Malakal.


More than 350,000 people have been displaced by the fighting between the South Sudanese government and rebel forces, according to the UN. Rebels say they have captured Malakal, which is the gateway to the oilfields of the Upper Nile region. But there is no independent confirmation of the claim.
 
"The reports we have are of between 200 to 300 people, including women and children. The boat was overloaded," army spokesman Philip Aguer told the AFP news agency.

Malakal is located on the banks of the White Nile - just north of its confluence w the Sobat River. Some 9,000 civilians have recently arrived at a UN base in Malakal, almost doubling the number of people seeking shelter there.

In the south, government troops are believed to be advancing on Bor - the only major town previously in rebel hands.

Meanwhile, talks aimed at securing a ceasefire in South Sudan are currently taking place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.The negotiations are being overseen by the East African regional bloc, Igad.
 
The violence erupted on 15 December between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and soldiers backing Riek Machar, his former vice-president. President Kiir is a member of South Sudan's largest ethnic group, the Dinka, while Mr. Machar is from the Nuer community - the country's second largest.
 
The conflict has seen reports of mass killings along ethnic lines even though both men have prominent supporters among their rival's community.The UN estimates that more than 1,000 people have died since the conflict began on 15 December. South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 after a long and bloody conflict, to become the world's newest state.
 
(Source: BBC News)
 
Please continue to pray for the peace of South Sudan, and for the GRN team on the ground there! Thank you and God bless!

 

John T. Zurowski 

 

 

 

 

Camp Koggi ~ Happening Now!

                                    

 

Here are a few photos just in from South Sudan. Please read each one to get a full update.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New fence poles going up around the land where St. Stephen's Church will be located. The clearing of this land is very difficult, but it's getting done and we are one step closer to a dream come true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is KIT bridge. It is (was) our only way to cross KIT river. Our guys have had to walk through the river at their own risk. Only the local people know where the stepping stones are and they must help a person cross or the outcome could be really bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the inside of our new shower. This is pretty high end stuff for the bush of South Sudan. Our guys did a great job!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the new generator house which will now house our 10 KVA generator, which was bought for us last year by a group of energetic and godly young men who head up an organization called OneLife. Camp Koggi is on it's way to being fully powered.

Praise God!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A very common sight at Camp Koggi. The work is never easy, but as we always say... it's worth it!!!

 

Please continue to keep the GRN team in your prayers... They truly matter!

 

God bless,

 

John T. Zurowski

Journey ~ With John Zurowski

 Life is a journey, not a home; a road, not a city of habitation; and the enjoyments and blessings we have are but little inns on the roadside of life, where we may be refreshed for a moment, that we may with new strength press on to the end - to the rest that remaineth for the people of God. ~ Horatius Bonar

This Christian life is truly a journey and we all started it from different places. We are all raised differently, we endure different heartaches, we feel joy from different experiences and we make different directional decisions (good and bad). But, as followers of Christ, we all have one thing in common… We have the same destination!
 
Not too long ago, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine. He said, “Jesus is the only way to get to heaven, but there are many ways to get to Jesus.”
 
How true that statement is! My dad, Tom Zurowski (director and founder of GRN), has said many times, “God will use anything to draw men to Himself.”
 
Some people might surrender their lives to Christ at an altar, while others may while on the roadside. Some even surrender while they are high on drugs and tell God they will follow Him if He turns the sky into the color of purple, and then proceed to follow Him after He answers their prayer (one man's true story). The point is, no matter how we surrendered our lives to Christ, we all serve and walk with the same God. And we all have the opportunity, as brothers and sisters in the Lord, to serve and walk together!
 
Whether we are Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, or Non-Denominational, we can find unity in Christ and walk this journey, not in division, but in Him and through Him together!
 
“This life is only a dressing room for eternity”, said A.W. Tozer. Our goal as Christians is to have unbroken communion with God while we journey through this life and to one day spend eternity with Him. How much sweeter this journey would be if we put down our "pet" doctrines, let God iron out the details, and walk this life in communion with not only our Lord, but also with each other! I truly believe it would make God’s heart glad!
 
God bless,
 
John T. Zurowski

 

Hang Up The Gloves! - By John Zurowski

“You cannot fight sin with sin!” - A.W. Tozer

 

Just the other day, I was speaking with a friend of mine on the premise of this quote.

The person was explaining to me some of the real issues they have had to deal with at work  (being ridiculed about their faith, cursed at, never being trusted, ect.) and how it was really starting to weigh down on them. They felt as if they were being used.

 

I shared this quote with them as a reminder to both of us for when we are dealing with people who are sinning against us. It is so important, as Christians, that we keep a right spirit toward others, even when they may wrong us.

 

“… Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:20

 

The devil has won a great victory when he is able to get us to react in an un-Christ like way toward the sins and failures of others. We cannot fight sin with sin or draw men to God by being angry with them and letting our flesh take over.

 

Often, actions done in a “spirit of irritation” have consequences greater than we could ever anticipate. Moses allowed himself to become angry at Israel and, in a fit of rage, hit the rock instead of speaking to it. With that one act of anger, he was never allowed to see the land in which God had promised to the people of Israel.

 

It is natural to feel sorrow and heaviness when we see people walking in the ways of the world. Our first impulse may easily be to go straight to them and scold them angrily. However, these methods seem to not bear much fruit. Rather, people seem to be put off by them.

 

If the irritation we have toward people is not of God, then it can do more harm than good.

 

On the subject of not fighting sin with sin, Jesus is our perfect example. To look at Jesus’ life will show us how to “hang up our gloves”, return hate with kindness and how to show compassion to those around us who are in need of a savior!

 

God bless,

 

John T. Zurowski

  

Breathe - with John Zurowski

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:6


Take a deep breath in, now breathe out. God is active in your life.

Every single breath that you breathe is a gift from God, an act of God’s will to give you yet one more breath of life, and another, and another.

God is not done with you.

Look all around you. There is life! Look up at the sky and the mountains! Admire the trees and the animals! See the people? There are so many of them! There’s children and the elderly. There’s black and there’s white. Some people live in dry deserts, others live in swamps, and rainforests. There’s life, beauty, diversity, and it’s all good! And all good things come from God. Every single pure thing comes straight from the heart of God.
 
Breathe in, breathe out.! It’s a gift, a deliberate gift. God’s not done with you.

The world is full of God’s goodness, God’s glory. But through the cracks evil is allowed to reign. Darkness rules this place and causes our vision to blur. At times it is hard to even see the light, the glorious light of God. We see dimly. We must not lose faith and thereby lose sight; we must press on toward the goal.
 
Breathe in, breathe out! Another gift from God. He’s at work, actively using you for a glorious purpose.

All good things come from God, but for some reason God allows all bad things to happen, though none of it is from Him. We can shake our fists at God and accomplish nothing, or we can submit to Him and hold tightly to His promises of goodness and love.

If you are human then I am positive that you will experience intense struggle of some kind, at some time. It’s worth it. And it's full of meaning. It probably will not feel very meaningful. At times you will feel like walking out, but stay in the race! Every hard moment is full of meaning.
 
“Let everything that has breath…” Breathe in. “Praise the Lord.” Breathe out.

God is a mystery to me. Not only must great things come through suffering, but He wants us to count our blessings in spite of the pain, and focus on Him. He does not want us to ignore the pain, but to choose to rejoice in all things, even painful things.

This is hard. It’s hard for me to rejoice and praise God in the midst of  my pain.
Love has very little to do with feelings and everything to do with choices. Feelings play an important role, but love comes down to a choice of choosing to seek another’s happiness above your own even if it does not feel good, and in God’s case, we find that His happiness becomes ours as well, if we seek His with all our hearts.
 
Of course, we cannot pretend our pain does not exist. If we do this it will never be resolved, it will never heal, and then for sure no one will benefit.

Yet in the pain, in the middle of the chaos, by the grace of God we must submit to Him, lift up our hands, and say, “Blessed be Your name, no matter how I feel!”

When it comes down to it, what else can we do? Where else can we go? God is the source of life.

Pain will come, but let’s not be controlled by it. Let’s stand up to the darkness and say, “I know that God is completely good and deserves all my praise! Bless His name! He is worthy of every breath I take, every beat of my heart, and every drop of my blood!”

Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. It’s a deliberate gift… God is active in your life!

God bless,

John T.  Zurowski



 

Masterpiece by John Zurowski

 Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. (Romans 1:19)

The Bible says we can learn a lot about God by simply looking at nature. In Romans 1:20, the apostle Paul says, “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

In other words, we can learn a lot about God by simply taking a walk.
When I look at nature, the first thing I see is that God likes variety. Have you ever noticed that? God loves diversity, and that’s one reason there’s nobody else in the entire world like you.

When I look at nature, I easily see that God is powerful. Have you ever seen a volcano? How about an earthquake or a tidal wave? You can see God’s power in the tides and in the winds. Only a powerful God could create such powerful things.

Nature also shows me that God is creative. Look at how the leaves are changing as fall approaches. Look at the beauty and complexity of a bird’s wings. I’ve been to Nigeria Falls many times, and I am still in awe of God’s creativity.

Consider how God has designed our own bodies; we have trillions (including our cells) of pieces linked to work perfectly together so they can perform the awesome, miraculous task of maintaining life!

We, as well as the rest of creation, are God’s masterpiece! A masterpiece that is being painted even as you read this! A baby is being born, a new tree is sprouting, and a caterpillar is coming out of its cocoon and becoming a butterfly.  

How awesome our God is! I encourage all of us to open our eyes this week and look at the evidence all around us that reveals who God is. It is in plain sight!
 
God bless,
 
John T. Zurowski

 

Purity and Simplicity - By Thomas a' Kempis

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8

 

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 2 Corinthians 1:12

 

“Lord, please help us to be people who are simple and pure at heart. People who are not swayed by the temporary treasures of this world, but that are swayed by You and the treasures of eternity. Help us to be people who seek nothing but You, for You are all that is worth seeking!” Amen   

                     

                      HE IMITATION OF CHRIST ~ BY THOMAS A’ KEMPIS 

CHAPTER 4

PURITY AND SIMPLICITY 

 

There are two wings that raise a man above earthly things, simplicity and purity. Simplicity must inspire his purpose and purity his affection. Simplicity reaches out after God; purity discovers and enjoys Him. No good deed will prove an obstacle to you if you are inwardly free from uncontrolled desires. And if you are free from uncontrolled desires, and seek nothing but the Will of God and the good of your neighbor, you will enjoy this inner freedom. If your heart be right, then every created thing will become for you a mirror of life and a book of holy teaching. For there is nothing created so small and mean that it does not reflect the goodness of God.

 

 

 

Beyond Ourselves - Solitude, Silence, and thinking on the presence of God.

 This is the continuation of a series of blog posts called “Beyond Ourselves”. They are mainly geared toward young adults, but I also believe they apply to everyone, no matter what age. I pray that God uses this series to touch you and challenge you in some way! Thank you for reading!

 

“We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.” ~ Mother Teresa

 

In the society we live in today, we are constantly surrounded by noise. Everyday we hear cars running, horns honking, radios blaring, televisions playing, people chattering, and dogs barking etc.

 

Some of these sounds are a natural part of living in the 21st century and cannot be helped, but why does this generation seem to need self-made sound? For example, why is it that when we’re driving in our cars we “need” music playing or when we’re home we “need” the television on as background noise?  Some of us have gotten to the point that if we don’t have these sounds, we almost feel like we’re going to go insane!

 

 Why am I even talking about this subject? Well, I honestly believe our “obsession” with noise has truly hindered this generation’s walk with the Lord, which in turn has hindered our walk with people.

 

 In days gone by, our forefathers and the saints of old felt an irresistible yearning to leave the noise and bustle of the world and retire into solitude and silence.

 

 They believed in order to preserve constant communion with God, three things were necessary: 1) solitude 2) silence 3) thinking on the presence of God.

 

1) Solitude: There are two types of solitude: one of the body and one of the soul. The second is more important than the first. St. Gregory said, "Of what use is the solitude of the body without the solitude of the spirit?" Of what benefit is it, the Saint wishes to say, to live in a desert if the soul clings to the things of this earth?

 

To put it in other words, what advantage is it to be quiet at home if our hearts are centered on the things of this world, and the noise of it prevents us from hearing the voice of God?  "A soul that is free from earthly attachments," says St. Peter Chrysologus, "finds solitude even on the streets and in public places." 

 

One day, Mother Teresa felt that God told her this, "Oh, how gladly would I speak to many souls! But the world makes so much noise in their hearts that they cannot hear My voice. Would that they might retire a little from the world!"

 

Many of us, especially young people, complain we are unable to find God’s will for our lives. If Mother Teresa were still around today, she would say to us, "Tear your heart away from everything else, then seek God and you will surely find it."  Maybe we have such a hard time finding the will of God for our lives because we let the everyday noise and spiritual noise of the world get so loud in our lives, we are unable to hear God’s still small voice.

 

2) Silence: Our forefathers said that silence is one of the principal means for oneself to know where and how to share God’s heart. By practicing silence in our times with the Lord, hearing Him and having true communion with Him, we will know the times when to be silent, and know when and what to speak when we are with others. Solomon said, "There is a time to keep silent and a time to speak." (Ecclesiastes 3:7)

 

Earlier I said that our “obsession” with noise has truly hindered this generation’s walk with the Lord, which in turn has hindered our walk with people. As Christians, we have many opportunities to speak to people (about our faith, giving an encouraging word, etc.). If we are not taking the time to get away from the noise of this world, spending time in silence, and listening to the Lord and to what He has to say, how are we going to know what He wants us to say and not to say to those around us? We cannot do it in our own strength (at least not very well) and we cannot give away to others what we do not have!  

 

3) Thinking on the presence of God: Thomas A Kempis said, "If we thought of the presence of God at all times we would never, or very seldom, do anything to displease Him." We fall into sin because we lose sight of the presence of God.

 

 "The cause of all evil," said Mother Teresa," lies in the fact that we do not think of the presence of God, but imagine Him far away from us." If we lose sight of the presence of God we will become easily swayed by sinful desires and have no strength to resist them.  

 

  The devil would love for us to get caught up in the noise of this world and lose sight of the presence of God. If we lose that, the devil can and will lead us around like a dog, and we will have no strength to put up a fight.

 

We, as a generation, must go back to these three basic principles that our forefathers and the saints of old laid out for us!

 

 If we cannot shut out the world and shut in with God, how will we ever know His will, unless in solitude? How will we know what to say and not to say to His children unless we are silent and take time to listen to Him? How will we stay in unbroken communion with Him and be able to resist the devil, unless we think upon Him?

 

We can’t and we won’t! That is why it’s so important to take time away from this noisy world, go beyond ourselves, and spend time with God.

 

 

God bless,

 

John Zurowski

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Ourselves - Faithfulness

 This is the continuation of a series of blog posts I started awhile back called, “Beyond Ourselves.” They are mainly geared toward young adults, but I also believe they apply to everyone, no matter what age. I pray that God uses this series to touch you and challenge you in some way! Thank you for reading!

 

“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God's way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.” ~ Elizabeth Elliot

 

We live in a world where instant self-gratification is being promoted all around us; specifically to young people. The world hammers away at us to gratify ourselves: Why wait? Why deny ourselves? Why sacrifice? Why not go along with everyone else? Constantly we hear, “Do what feels good, and do it now!”

Through technology, and other means, this generation has been trained to want and expect things to happen quickly. And if things go slow, or we don’t get what we want, we are easily frustrated. For example, “Why is this light taking so long to turn? Why is the internet going so slow? Can’t they make the speed limit faster through this area? I thought this was supposed to be a fast food restaurant? It’s been five minutes since I ordered!”

Silly illustrations, right? Well, if you think about it, not really.

The simple little day-to-day things I wrote about above point to something much deeper that is plaguing this generation... A lack of patience and ungratefulness, which has turned into a lack of faithfulness.

Not too long ago, a person’s word was his bond and mere handshakes sealed major business agreements. Tales of Abraham Lincoln’s honesty over pennies are an almost legendary part of America’s history. Marriage was a promise for life. But a lot of things have changed over a short period of time.

Now, if contracts are not in writing, and there is a minor hiccup, they can be almost broken at will. Companies lie about the quality of their products, and workers are negligent in the quality of their work, so the product can be produced at a faster rate. If a couple disagrees or they find that they’re not fulfilling each others needs, they break their vows without a second thought, if they get married at all.

A lack of faithfulness is rising to its peak because of self-centeredness. Irresponsibility runs rampant and is being promoted to its utmost. It is the spirit of our age and it has affected our whole society, and it has even affected the way we act as Christians.

Many of us who call ourselves Christians today tend to jump from church to church because we can never find one that completely satisfies our needs. We say that God told us to do something, and for a while when everything is fresh and new we work diligently. But when the freshness wares off, and our enthusiasm wanes, we seem to leave that non-exciting, non-gratifying work in the dust and find something new. We even sometimes give God a test drive and if bad things happen, or things don’t go our way, we leave Him at the curb.

As young people, middle aged, and the elderly alike, we have a chance to go beyond ourselves, set aside our self-gratifying agendas, and bring back the beautiful practice of faithfulness.

Will it be easy? No! But anything worth having never was and never will be. It will take faithfulness to bring back faithfulness. It will seem impossible at times, but just as Jesus said in Luke 18:27, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

God bless,

John Zurowski

  

 

Unknown - By John Zurowski

"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God." ~ Corrie Ten Boom

Many of us (Christians), including myself, sometimes walk through this life in uncertainty. We worry about which profession we should enter, which car we should drive, which school we should go to, where we should live and other things of that nature.

How are we to go about defining what God wants us to do with our lives?

All in all, it is vital that we be completely surrendered to Jesus Christ. He will not lead us to glory except for His own and He cannot lead us if we resist His will. We must stop using God for our own agendas, submit ourselves to Him, and let Him work through us to achieve His own ends.

I believe if we are fully committed to God with the intent to obey Him, we should expect to be led by Him. There are many Scriptures that teach this belief. For example, Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths…”.

 

These next few paragraphs are by a man I highly respect, by the name of A.W. Tozer. He said,

 


“The choices that we make from day to day involve only four kinds of things:

 

1) Those concerning which God has said an emphatic “no.”

2) Those about which He has said an equally emphatic “yes.”

 3) Those concerning which He wants us to consult our own sanctified preferences.

 4) Those few matters which require special guidance from the Lord to prevent us from making serious mistakes.”

Now, a happy truth too often overlooked in our anxious search for God’s will is that in the majority of decisions touching our lives God expresses no choice but allows us to choose our preference. The Lord has set Christians to follow their own personal bent, guided only by their love for Him and their fellow men.

It appears more spiritual to seek God’s leading than to do the obvious thing. But it is not. If God gave you a watch would you honor Him more by asking Him for the time of day or by consulting the watch?

Except for those things that are specifically commanded or forbidden, it is God’s will that we be free to choose. The shepherd leads the sheep but he does not decide which tuft of grass the sheep shall nibble. Touching our life on earth God is pleased when we are pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our Maker’s praise without anxiety. God’s choice for us may be any one of a score of possible choices. The Christian who is wholly and joyously surrendered to Christ cannot make a wrong choice.” (A.W. Tozer)

 But what about those times when much is at stake and we have no clear instruction, but are forced to choose between two possible things? We have God’s faithful promise to guide us. Here are two specific passages from God’s Word:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. - James 1:5

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. - Isaiah 48:17

 

So, let us take our problems to the Lord and depend on these promises. If we are dedicated to God’s purpose and glory, He will not lead us to make a mistake. We are His children, and He loves us with an unfailing love. We can rest in that!

 

God Bless,

 

John Zurowski

 

 

Beyond Ourselves with Tucker McAlpin

  "I got involved, I donated my time, and then eventually I donated myself to go over there (South Sudan) to help GRN. Once you do that, once you take it that far, you're hooked. It's not just something that I'm going to do for one year (supporting GRN) and be done. It's something I'll be doing for the rest of my life." ~ Tucker McAlpin 

 

This is an excerpt from an interveiw that I (John Zurowski) did with Tucker McAlpin. Tucker is a twenty year old supporter of GRN. But, more than that, he is a friend and a brother in the Lord to me and the rest of the GRN team.

 

To listen to the rest of the interveiw click this link: 

www.grnconnect.org/media/audio/Tucker_Interveiw.m4a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

Beyond Ourselves - With John Zurowski

 “All I want to tell young people is that you're not going to be anything in life unless you learn to commit to a goal and have the faithfulness to see it through. You have to reach deep within yourself to see if you are willing to make the sacrifices.” ~ Louis Zamperini - An Heroic Olympian and Veteran in World War II

 

Young people in this generation (my generation) and many others before, are driven by movements. Whatever is cool, whatever is hip, and whatever is self-fulfilling, is what the mainstream culture thrives on.

 

You might ask, “What is wrong with movements?” Not all movements in their nature are bad and not all movements are good. Two examples: Back when my dad (Tom Zurowski, founder and director of Global Response Network) was a young man, there was the "hippie" movement. Many people grew out their hair, embraced communal living, tried to be "in harmony" with nature, smoked dope, and drank beer. It became a fad. Eventually, in the late 70’s and early 80’s the hippie movement died out for the most part. If you asked my dad today, he would tell you that one of the main reasons he was involved in it was because it was the "thing" to do.  It was what he felt made him cool, hip, and popular. It was self-fulfilling and made him look good to his peers. 

 

Now, we have another movement on the rise that is driven by young people. This movement though, is the complete opposite of the one I just mentioned. It’s called the "End It Movement". It’s a movement that desires to stop human trafficking and modern day slavery. How great is that?! I personally know some people who are involved in it and are truly committed to it, and I applaud them for that.  They are the ones that do not care about their ego and will stick to it and will remain faithful to their goal.

 

 But, with that being said, this movement has, unfortunately, become like many other movements of the past. This movement, in its nature, is completely different than the hippie movement, but it has become the next cool thing to be apart of. One of the main underlining reasons some people join movements is because they feel it will make them look good in front of the world's eyes, at that time. 

 

 Unfortunately, movements even good in nature become fads. Fads are very fickle. Fads change from year to year, month to month, and day to day. Fads require no commitment and no faithfulness. When even a "good" movement that has become a fad, is not fresh and does not satisfy the self-fulfilling desire of a person’s ego, it dies out. And that is truly a shame…

 

Now, I am far from bashing the End It Movement, but the reality is ….all movements eventually stop moving. In the next year or two it will not be fresh and hip anymore. Will it completely end? I doubt it. If it is of God, which I believe it is, there will be those that will stay faithful and will keep it going as a ministry, but not as a movement. 

 

Ministries require faithfulness, even when they’re not the freshest seen on the market. They require sacrifice and self-denial.  

 

Are all ministries perfect? No. But if they are of God, they will last and do mighty things for the Kingdom.

 

In this first post of this series, the main thing I would like to encourage all of us young people to do is this: “Let’s go beyond ourselves!” Let’s go beyond the shallow idea of being cool, hip, and doing things in the hope of being seen. Let’s do things for the glory of God, whether we are seen or not! During the times when the world does see us, may they be drawn to God through the lives that they see us living. Let’s do this together!  To be continued next week…

 

 

 

Mine Awareness Day

On December 8, 2005, it was declared that April 4th of each year would be observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. It's a day to bring awareness about countries where mines and explosive remnants of war constitute a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the civilian population, or an impediment to social and economic development at the national and local levels.


South Sudan continues to suffer from the remnants of war. After over twenty years of civil war between North and South Sudan, mines remain a constant threat. Some are found through de-mining machinery, while others are found by unfortunate accidents, such as the one that took place just a few years ago on the property of the Nugent School (the school that GRN served to rebuild for the past ten years), located in Loka, South Sudan.


A teacher from the Nugent School was giving another teacher lessons on how to drive. As they drove over the soccer field, they went over an anti-tank mine. The truck was destroyed and the two teachers died. Prior to this accident, students had unknowingly run over the top of this mine each day while playing soccer. GRN staff walked over this mine almost daily while rebuilding the school. All of our feet had passed over it, yet we were not heavy enough to detonate it. If you ever come to the GRN office in Somerset, KY, you can hold a piece of this truck in your own hand. We carried a small piece home with us so that we will never forget the seriousness of serving in South Sudan.

As you go through your day, please pray for the people in South Sudan who have suffered from the awful side effects of war. Many people are still dealing with the trauma that war brings, and they are in need of the healing that only God can give.

 

Thank you and God bless you,

 

John T. Zurowski

 

 

Love Your Enemy - With John Zurowski

  Other than Jesus commanding His followers to love their enemies, why should Christians love and not hate their enemies?

 

“The first reason is fairly obvious. Returning hate for hate multiples hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies
toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. Another reason why we must love our enemies is that hate scars the soul and distorts the personality. Mindful that hate is an evil and dangerous force, we too often think of what it does to the person hated. This is understandable, for hate brings irreparable damage to its victims.
 But there is another side which we must never overlook. Hate is just as injurious to the person who hates. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true. A third reason why we should love our enemies is that love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy be getting rid of enmity. By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up. Love transforms with redemptive power.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

 

Jesus calls His disciples to a different standard of behavior than that of the world. A standard of love and forgiveness. He not only declared the standard, He also lived it out. The best example of loving one’s enemies and praying for those who persecute you, was the example given by the One who commanded it, Jesus Himself. Jesus, who was completely perfect and without flaw, suffered a death that was meant for criminals. As He was being crucified, He cried out for His torturers: “And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

 

“Jesus said many wonderful things, but rarely anything more wonderful than, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Christian forgiveness is an amazing thing. When Stephen was being stoned to death he too prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60.) There is nothing so lovely and nothing
so rare as Christian forgiveness. When the unforgiving spirit is threatening to turn our hearts to bitterness, let us hear again our Lord asking forgiveness for those who crucified him and his servant Paul saying to his friends, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph.4:32.)” (William Barclay)

 

Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman Emperor and Stoic saint, used to say to himself every morning, “Today you will meet all kinds of unpleasant people; they will hurt you, and injure you, and insult you; but you cannot live like that; you know better, for you are a man in whom the spirit of God dwells.” Christians are to be like Christ, and must love and forgive as Jesus did.

Christian or Chameleon?

 “Why suffering?” is a wrong question. No right answer exists for a wrong question.” (Richard Wurmbrand)

 
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” 
(Paul’s letter to the Romans; chapter 8, verse 18)
I remember listening to “gospel” radio one day many years ago and hearing a well-known preacher say, “If the apostle Paul understood covenant, then he would not have had to suffer what he did.” Oh, how foolish and arrogant we have become! We have believed the lie of the man-centered gospel (which is no gospel at all) that makes us believe that God was created for our good pleasure, rather than man being created for His.
How could we get so far off? Is it any wonder that there are so many well-meaning self-seeking “decision makers” filling the pews of our worship halls these days? They have come to find out how to get the most out of Jesus. Suffering or trials are no longer a part of the Christian equation.
I remember spending time with a pastor friend, in Sudan, who was captured by Muslims. He was taken to a torture chamber; where demon possessed people beat him. They hog-tied his wrists and ankles together and repeatedly hoisted him 15 – 20 feet off the ground then let him fall on his face onto a concrete slab. He was kept in a steel container for 15 days in the hot sun. He was put in water up to his nose and forced to stand in it for days. Lastly they dug a grave for him and his friend and threw the two men into the graves. My friend’s colleague died. When the authorities found that my friend lived through the night they exclaimed, “surely your God must be a living God”, and released him. This dear brother never became bitter, or asked the question “why God?” He had already counted the cost of following Christ on the day of his conversion. Through out his time in custody his family didn’t know if he was alive or dead. While he was tortured, he preached Jesus to his persecutors. He is still preaching today.
If only someone would go to our brothers and sisters and tell them about the covenant they have with God, maybe they wouldn’t have to suffer for His namesake (sarcasm). In many persecuted countries around the world, the radio preacher I mentioned earlier would be rejected and labeled a heretic. Yet, in America, we embrace such a teacher, buy his books, and send money to keep his radio show on the air.
The Bible makes it clear that if we desire to live Godly in this present day and stand against the spirit of the age, then we will suffer persecution. Maybe the question we should be asking ourselves in the free world is “why don’t we suffer?” Maybe the reason we don’t suffer is because we have become chameleons in our culture. May we not forget that chameleon’s true colors will be revealed at the judgment seat. We must never fit in. If we fit into the world, then we may not fit in to heaven.

Tom Zurowski

PICTURE... Me with James Jeda. 10 year old boy burned from his ears to his ankles for not rejecting Jesus and becoming a Muslim. This all occurred after his family was killed for loving Jesus. Southern Sudan 2001.

 

Simon's Story... GRN Early Years

  When Simon was seven years old, he and his family lived in South Sudan. One day, Muslim militia came from the north of Sudan and raided his village. Simon's whole family was killed before his eyes. He was taken to the north and sold as a slave. The man who bought him put him in charge of his sheep. Simon did not know how to take care of sheep, so he did not do as good of a job as his master wanted him to do. As punishment, the master tied a rope around Simon's neck and tied the other end of the rope around a camel. He proceeded to slap the camel and made it run. Simon was dragged and nearly killed by the incident. Simon was then sold to another man, but his new master did not like him either so he sold him. Finally, another man purchased him. Out of hatred for Simon, he literally took him to the bush and hung him from a tree. Just "by chance" a person was walking through the bush and saw Simon's small body hanging from a tree. The man cut him down from the tree and saw that there was still life in him. The man happened to have known Simon's father when he was still alive. This man  adopted Simon as his own son. I met Simon many years ago in a camp with his adopted father. He graciously gave me his shirt and I gave him a brand new shirt. The shirt he had been wearing represented many bad memories of being forced to go to an Islamic school and learn things that went against his Christian faith. I will never forget him." - Tom Zurowski 


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A Look Inside The November Newsletter

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Franklin Graham In Juba, South Sudan

We thank God for people like Franklin Graham, who have poured out their lives for Jesus in the nation of South Sudan. This is a picture of the crusade he just held in Juba. 60,000 people were in attendance to hear the Good News.

Love Your Enemy

  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?" Matthew 5:43-46

 

"The highest goal of man is to become Christ-like." ~ Richard Wurmbrand 

 

Many of Jesus’ disciples have followed His example by loving their enemies, praying for them and forgiving them. For instance, one of those disciples is a man named Richard Wurmbrand.

 

February 29, 1948, on his way to Sunday church, Richard was arrested by the Romanian Communist secret police, and was thrown into prison in retaliation for his refusal to endorse them. Richard spent a total of fourteen years in prison. Three of those years he spent in solitary confinement, in a cell that was thirty feet underground, with no lights or windows. There was no sound because even the guards wore felt on the soles of their shoes. During his imprisonment, he was beaten and tortured. Psychological torture included incessant broadcasting of phrases denouncing Christianity and praising Communism. His body bore the scars of physical torture for the rest of his life. For example, he later recounted having the soles of his feet beaten until the flesh was torn off, then the next day beaten again to the bone.

 

Despite all that Richard went through, all the abuse and torture he endured at the hand of the communists, he had this to say later after his release: "It was in prison that we found the hope of salvation for the Communists. It was there that we developed a sense of responsibility toward them. It was in being tortured by them that we learned to love them. I have seen Christians in Communist prisons with fifty pounds of chains on their feet, tortured with red-hot iron pokers, in whose throats spoonfuls of salt had been forced, being kept afterward without water, starving, whipped, suffering from cold—and praying with fervor for the Communists. This is humanly in-explicable! It is the love of Christ which was poured out of our hearts." 

 

Richard Wurmbrand’s story is just one example of thousands of Christians that have learned from and have followed their master’s example of praying for, loving, and forgiving their enemies.  After hearing Richard Wurmbrand’s story, one could say, “If any man had the right to hate, he would be that man.” But Richard knew, as many others like him, that as a follower of Jesus Christ, one has to be Christ-like. Christ’s example was one of agape love.

 

"To regard a person with agape, means that no matter what that person does to us, no matter how he treats us, no matter if he insults us or injures us or grieves us, we will never allow any bitterness against him to invade our hearts, but will regard him with that unconquerable benevolence and goodwill which will seek nothing but his highest good." ~ William Barclay 

 

Therefore, as a result of following Jesus’ example, allowing Him to fill oneself with agape love, and learning from the examples of saints that have exhibited this love, one is able to see that it is possible to obey Jesus’ command to love an enemy.  If one is filled with agape love from God, one is filled with a love that takes insults and injuries, a love that forgives and does not allow any bitterness into the heart, a love that can only come from one that knows Christ, because Christ is the only one that has such a love. To love one’s enemy is impossible in one’s own flesh. However, Jesus said, “…with God all things are possible.”

 

God Bless,


John Zurowski 

A Word From Bishop Lugor

SENT TO US THIS MORNING FROM SOUTH SUDAN.

"My sons in the Lord Dickson, Tom and John, I believe you are God's Missionaries discharging the duties commanded to you by Our Lord God. I bless your work in Koggi. We promise to give you our full support and security, so work without fear for the Glory of God! All of you are a part of our family, and I (we) will remember all of you and GRN always. You stood with us during the bad days, when everyone else, even the UN, was on the run! We will never forget that. We acknowledge that all the time." ~ Rt.bishop Michael.

A Story Of Grace

In 2009, local South Sudanese officials called us while we were at our compound in Loka to come and meet someone. When we arrived in Lainya, we were introduced to a young girl named Grace. We were told that she had just arrived home from Uganda after escaping from Joseph Kony’s, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

 

As she sat and talked with us she shared the horror of being taken from her village by young LRA soldiers at 13 years old thinking she would never see her family again. Her mother remembers coming home and Grace being gone with no idea where she was. Grace would not return home for a little over a year. All that time her mother had no idea where she was or if she would ever hold her daughter again (Grace’s father had died some years before).

 

During the year she spent with the LRA, Grace experienced things that no one ever should. She was raped regularly and she watched people be killed and tortured. Grace told us that she walked from morning until night and then was forced to sleep under a plastic tarp, so she wouldn’t run away. She told us that the “team” of soldiers she was with were given the job of collecting weapons supplied by Sudan (dropped from planes by the north into South Sudan) and carry them back to The People’s Republic of Congo.

 

During a firefight with the Ugandan army, Grace took a chance and stood up with bullets flying all around her. A Ugandan soldier saw her and pushed her to the ground while still firing on the LRA. The soldier laid his body over Grace to cover her from the bullets. Within 2 days Grace was returned home to her mother. They were both shocked and overwhelmed when we met them that May afternoon.

 

From that day on, GRN has provided help for Grace and her mom. By Grace’s request, we moved her and her mother to different location to go to school, receive counseling, and start her life over again. Grace and her mom are now back together and though much healing still needs to be done, joy is returning. Please pray for Grace as she continues to heal.

 

One other important note: Grace does not blame God for what happened to her, but rather she thanks Him for giving her and her mother the strength to endure this very painful experience.

 

Thanks to GRN's partners, we continue to support Grace as she rebuilds her life.

Water @ GRN's New Work Station In Koggi, South Sudan

Here are a few pictures of the new water well going in at GRN's new work Station in Koggi, South Sudan (GRN's field coordinator, Dickson Mutiso in photo).

 

Please Pray

On June 11th, Tucker McAlpin and Tom Zurowski will be traveling to South Sudan to work on GRN's new work station in Korgi Village. Please keep them in your prayers as they head out on their mission. Thank you!

 

The Road Home

Here is a picture of the new road we cut through the bush to our new work station on the Nile River in Korgi Village, South Sudan.

The Fear of Aerial Terror Once Again Haunts South Sudan

May 22, 2012 (JUBA) — The public in Juba were in a state of panic after military officials claimed that a Sudan-owned military aircraft flew for several hours over Juba, South Sudan capital on Monday.

 

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“On Monday, an antonov was seen flying over Juba. When our airport terminal officials tried to make contact with people in the aircraft, they never responded,” said Phillip Aguer, the spokesperson for the South Sudan army (SPLA).

 

He accused the Sudanese government of violating South Sudan’s territory in defiance of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) demanding immediate cessation of military hostilities between the two nations.

 

Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), Aguer told a press briefing in Tuesday, carried out a series of separate attacks on South Sudan territories, and warned that further attacks could force the SPLA to retaliate.

 

“On the 15th of this month, a Sudan Armed Forces supported militia forces (SAF) attacked [the] SPLA forces [in] North Wedakona, but were repulsed back the White Nile in North Sudan,” the army spokesman said.


In a separate incident, Aguer claimed another convoy of militia forces reportedly left kilo 23, an area located near Panthou (Heglig), “with intentions to commit sabotage attack on Abiemnom and Mayom in Unity state.”


Meanwhile, the official spokesperson of the South Sudan government on Tuesday strongly condemned the bombardment of SPLA positions in Werguet, located about 30km inside South Sudan’s territory in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state. The attacks reportedly occurred on May 21 and 22.


“The government of South Sudan strongly condemns such wanton attacks on its territory. This acts of aggression greatly undermines South Sudan’s territorial integrity,” said Barnaba Benjamin Marial.


He called upon the African Union, the UNSC and the international community to consider Khartoum’s act of aggression as a “serious” issue that requires immediate attention.


The SPLA, Marial added, have the right to defend their territory and will have to retaliate against such attacks, should it escalate.


The 22 May attack also coincided with the visit of Thabo Mbeki, the chair of the AU Implementation Panel on Sudan (AUHIP), who held talks with South Sudan leader Salva Kiir.

Mbeki, who addressed the press moments later, said he was optimistic both nations will resume negotiations aimed at achieving peace and stability. It remains, however, unclear when the talks will actually commence.

 

By Julius N. Uma - Sudan Tribune

The Suffering Continues In South Sudan

Our work in South Sudan over the past 13 years has been filled with desperate situations that has led to not only food insecurity and severe malnutrition, but starvation itself. Please take a moment and read what is happening currently in South Sudan. Please pray for GRN as we seek the Lord on how to best serve those who are suffering. Thank you!

 

The northern Sudanese border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan are on the verge of catastrophic human destruction.


This should not come as a surprise. For many months now warnings of famine, and diseases consequent upon malnutrition, have become increasingly urgent. The devastating effects of bombing attacks during the planting season in the Nuba Mountains quickly became apparent last spring: following the June 5 outbreak of hostilities between Khartoum's Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the indigenous northern rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-N), aerial assaults on villages, fields, and livestock became relentless. A terrible reprise of these attacks on civilian livelihoods began in Blue Nile on September 1.


Some 150,000 people have already fled South Kordofan and Blue Nile for Ethiopia or South Sudan, which itself is facing potentially catastrophic food insecurity, deliberately exacerbated by many of Khartoum's actions. Conditions in the camps in Upper Nile, where most of the refugees from Blue Nile have fled, are appalling and unsustainable. And the refugees themselves, who continue to flee in large numbers, are the best indicators of conditions for those who remain in the war zone, many too young or too feeble to make the exhausting trek southward.


IRC reports that some children show signs of "severe malnutrition"; Oxfam declares its sense that "we're on the path from crisis to catastrophe"; and Save the Children puts the issue most broadly: "A toxic combination of conflict, rising food and fuel prices, and severe cash shortages is having a devastating effect on the civilian population in both countries. With the rains on the way the situation could not be more critical."


Tom Catena, the only Western physician working in the Nuba, wrote to me recently declaring: "The food shortages now are very severe. No one seems to have any food stock left and there's absolutely nothing to buy in the market. We have a small stock here that we're preserving for our staff and in-patients and are hoping to make it through the rainy season. Most people are eating leaves and these pod-like things from the trees" (email rec'd May 20, 2012). Even more terrifyingly, people are widely reported to be eating their seed stocks, ensuring that there will be nothing for the current planting season---or a harvest next fall.


But again, there is nothing surprising in what we are seeing. By October 2011 the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization had predicted that harvests would largely fail in Blue Nile and South Kordofan. By November the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNet) was warning that near-famine conditions would be seen by March without humanitarian relief. Currently health workers are warning of "devastating epidemics" for lack of vaccines for children and other critical medical supplies. Reports from a wide range of humanitarian sources make unavoidably clear that many hundreds of thousands of lives are at acute risk.


And yet in UN Security Council Resolution 2046 (May 2, 2012) the Council can bring itself to do no more than "strongly urge" that Khartoum allow humanitarian access. Despite the Chapter 7 authority of the resolution, it ignores the regime's obduracy in the past, and its consistently demonstrated willingness to use the denial of humanitarian assistance as a weapon of war: in the Nuba Mountains in the 1990s, during the long civil war in the South, and currently in Darfur. The Council resolution points to the access proposal made jointly by the African Union, the UN, and the Arab League in early February---a proposal the SPLM/A-N quickly agreed to. Predictably, Khartoum declares it is still "studying" the joint proposal; and almost four months later has succeeded in delaying any action until this year's heavy seasonal rains have begun.


This forces a question the international community has either skirted or denied any legitimacy: should humanitarian corridors be opened without Khartoum's consent if the only alternative is to watch hundreds of people slowly starve to death?


As the dying continues, the question will only become more exigent.

 

Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, has published extensively on Sudan, nationally and internationally, for more than a decade. He is author of A Long Day's Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide.

Sudan Report From Voice Of The Martyrs USA

Please Pray For Peace In South Sudan

As tensions rise on the border of South Sudan and Sudan we need to lift up this situation and pray for peace. Tom Zurowski will be returning to South Sudan in June. Please pray for GRN as we do our small part to bring Jesus to South Sudan.

Please read link below.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17954805

 

Report and photo by BBC.

What Do Angels Look Like?

Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe in angels? I don't know about you, but there have been times in my life when I have questioned if God really takes notice of the little things in my life. It was just a few days ago that I returned from South Sudan and the testimony I am about to share erased all doubt from my mind and I hope it builds faith in you as you read it.

 
It was the last day of the trip and we were in a hurry to get to the capital, Juba, for me to catch my flight to Kenya and make my way back to the States. We had struggled with our truck almost every day of the trip and it seemed like no matter what we did, our efforts were in vain. We purposefully rose early that morning to take the truck to a nearby mechanic to look over the truck before making the four hour trip to Juba. After a few major repairs, they assured us that we shouldn't have any more trouble and wished us "luck". I don't know about you, but I don't like setting out on a four hour road trip, in 100 degree heat, on rough dirt roads, in the middle of NOWHERE and have our mechanic wish us LUCK.
 
We had been on the road for a few hours when we started to feel the left front wheel start to wobble. We jumped out of the truck to check things out and noticed that three of the four main bolts which had been replaced that morning had fallen out and all the oil had poured out of the crank case on to the wheel and all over the road. There was only one bolt holding the whole wheel assembly together. We got back in the truck and decided to inch our way down the road. We were literally in the middle of NOWHERE, with no spare parts and no help. We were still 30 miles from Juba and there wasn't a person or village anywhere. As we crept down the rugged dirt road about only 100 feet, a small truck passed us with the driver hanging out the window pointing vigorously at our front wheel. He motioned for us to stop and he kept going.
 
When we stopped the truck, we were under the only shade tree along the road as far as the eye could see. Again, this was NOWHERE! As we stood under the tree, Global Response Network's (GRN) field coordinator, Dickson Mutiso said, "Brother, what are we going to do?" Trying to sound confident I declared, "We're going to trust God, that's what we're going to do!" I said the right words, yet, I must admit I was asking myself the same question.
 
Within less than two minutes the truck that had passed us had returned. When the truck stopped, six guys jumped out and headed straight for our truck. Two guys were putting on coveralls while one guy was carrying a jack. Without asking permission, they started jacking up the truck and passing wrenches to each other. They did not speak the local language, so Dickson could only pick out a word here and there. We just couldn't believe what was happening. They worked as though it was fun and their expressions were almost playful. 
 
After about twenty minutes they lowered our truck and rushed over to their truck and began jacking it up. The guy who was driving the truck climbed underneath it and removed one of the bolts holding his wheel on. With that, he lowered his truck and vigorously began to jack ours up once more. He took the bolt from off his truck and put it on ours. He now had three and we now had two.
 
After tightening the bolts, he motioned for Dickson to give him the keys. He jumped in the driver's seat, started her up and put her in gear. He drove down the road, turned around and moved slowly back toward us. The other guys squatted down with their hands on their knees and looked intently to make sure the wheel was no longer wobbling. When he reached us, he put it in park and jumped out and threw the keys to Dickson. With a big smile, he gave us two thumbs up and started joking with his friends. Dickson then tried communicating with them and trying to give them money but they refused. I went up to the main guy and said "Thank you", he looked me square in the eye and in perfect English said, "God loves you!" I almost began weeping right there. 
 
I took their picture and then they jumped in their truck and took off laughing, smiling and waving at us. Dickson and I climbed quietly into our truck and sat stunned with tears in our eyes. Dickson turned to me and said, "It was a miracle. God is with us!" He started the truck and we made our way toward Juba. All along the last 30 miles to the capital, we couldn't help but just keep saying, "It's a miracle!" We made it to the airport with time to spare. 
 
I don't know what angels look like, but to us, just a few short days ago, they looked like six happy African mechanics. God was so kind to show us that He cares about the "little" things in our lives and He made it clear that yes, He is with us. 
 
So if you think God is too busy to help you, let this simple story plant a seed of faith in your heart and remember... God still does miracles.
 
 
By Tom Zurowski
 

 

The Nuba Mountains

Please watch and pray for the people of the Nuba Mountains.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/unreported-world/4od#3317402

Wake Up Call

Trip To South Sudan... Please Pray...

     On Monday April 16th Tom Zurowski will be heading to South Sudan.

 

    The trip will consist of several different activities, including the installation of a new water well to supply clean fresh water for the village of Rujango (460 families), development planning for our new work station in Korgi Village (Juba County), planning for our trip in June, share God's love with everyone we meet and spiritual renewal for the GRN team. This is the plan and we need your prayers as we move forward. We only want to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, we have no desire to anything but that.

 

    It sounds like trouble is brewing for upward of 500,000 people currently residing in Sudan (north). These people have southern family roots and are being forced out of the north very soon. This will be a huge humanitarian crisis for the newly formed nation of South Sudan. GRN will do everything we can to serve these displaced people.

 

    We will be sure to update you on arrival back in the United States. Please continue to pray for peace in South Sudan. Together we can make a difference!

The Persecution Report (April 2012)

Pakistan Update

This was received this morning from our friends in Northern Pakistan

 

Respected brother,


Thank  you very much  for your response and prayers. Yesterday we just got two hours break in curfew after 72 hours. After two hours again  the curfew was enforced. Very few things were available in  a few shops on very high prices during break. Everything is running out. We have no water, electricity, interne or telephones. Food is running out in ******  city because  violence and curfew. Everything is closed. We are facing big trouble in our hostel. 42 children are learning how to face these kinds of situations and depend on God for each and everything.


Every one is trying to protect himself and it's difficult to sleep for the people of ******. We are  working like watchmen and praying every night for the people of ***** and our brothers and sisters in Christ here. I  am  sending you this mail from a special  internet connection perhaps I will not be able to use it soon. So do remember all these things in your prayers.


God Bless you.
Brother  Masih

Pakistan

More Trouble In Pakistan...

 

Here is an email that we received from our friends in Pakistan first thing this morning.

 

    "Respected brother Tom and friends of GRN,


     The situation in ****** is again turning very dangerous . Yesterday 15 were killed and many were injured after cross firing between two Islamic groups. A curfew was enforced during the violence. Six buses were burnt and ten passengers were killed. Some of the peopel have been kidnaped. Now everything  is  shut down. There is even no mobile phone sevices and people are sitting in their homes.

   

    Please remember this situation in your prayers ."


     God  bless you .
     Brother Masih

Grace

Please Pray For Grace...

 

    For those of you who have been keeping up with our work in Sudan, you know that we have been assisting a wonderful young lady named Grace. Grace was a victim of The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) which is led by Joseph Kony.

 

    Grace was abducted from her village in South Sudan and was held captive for one full year until she escaped. She was beaten and raped almost daily. She was only 14 years old at the time. The trauma she experienced was beyond words.

 

    GRN has been caring for many of her needs which include clothes, schooling and other miscellaneous items. Your prayers for are greatly appreciated and anyone wishing to help support Grace can do so through GRN. You can designate funds to support her schooling and other needed items and every penny will go to Grace's healing fund.