(as shared by Archbishop Justin at his enthronement on 22nd April 2018)
FOCUS OF MY EPISCOPAL MINISTRY In the next ten years, the focus of our ministry will be on Making and Teaching Disciples[1]. The teaching will be focused on the Lord’s Prayer[2]. This is to teach our people to understand the Lord’s Prayer, do the Lord’s Prayer and live the Lord’s Prayer in their daily lives. Our entire Episcopal ministry will revolve around the Lord’s Prayer to achieve the following objectives:
1. UNITY OF THE CHURCH From all what we are seeing happening in our communities, it is clear that the devil has filled the hearts and minds of our people with the spirit of tribal politics, divisions, hate and violence. Our administration will make every effort to teach and unite our Christians to see themselves as brothers and sisters in one family of God.
In the first sentence of the Lord’s Prayer, we call God our father who art it heaven. This sentence is a statement of unity of all Christians with each other and with Jesus Christ. St John says: ‘to those who believed in him, he gave them the right to become the children of God[3].’ And St Mark also says that those who do the will of God are brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ[4]. Therefore all those who pray the Lord’s Prayer and call God as father see themselves as brothers and sisters in a community with those who pray in the same way. Having called God as our father and being all brothers and sisters entails mutual respect for one another, love, harmonious relationship, unity and peace with each other in order to manifest the union with the father. Adam and Eve from whom all human beings originate were none tribal and none ethnical and therefore they became the father of all people of different languages and tribes. St Paul says in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one in Christ[5]. A true and strong witness of the Church comes only when people of different cultures and origins live their lives together for God in a secular world. Our administration will guide and unify the way of worship in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan by giving a unified training and orientation to all worship leaders and preachers through retreats, seminars and a unified curriculum in our theological training institutions. We will come up with our own worship book that is relevant to us.
2. IMPROVING AND CONSTRUCTING CHURCH BUILDINGS During our tenure of office, we will encourage all our Christians to improve the structures of their places of worship. This will be done with the aim of saying to God; thank you for the new nation of South Sudan.’’ Here in Juba we will mobilize resources for the construction of our national cathedral for God’s glory. I will be looking forward to see how much the government shall give toward this building of our national Cathedral. The other challenge which I would leave for our government to reflect and ponder upon is that; out of all the national wealth that God has placed in this country such as oil wealth, what percentage our government shall give towards the work of God in this country?
It is unpleasant for us to conduct such a big function in a small church as this, leaving thousands of worshipers outside in the open sunshine. Time has come for us to do things that bring glory to God in South Sudan. At baptism, our forehead was marked with the sign of the cross to commit ourselves to shine with the glory of God and carrying his holy name everywhere we go. Whenever we act in selfish motives, we betray and profane the name of God. Whenever we glorify God’s name with our lives and actions, God also glorifies us just in the same way he glorified Christ for making known the father’s name.
3. STRATEGIC EVANGELISM Our leadership will focus on mission and evangelism to expand the kingdom of God in South Sudan. The coming of the kingdom of God was the central point in the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. His message was that the kingdom of God is at hand; people should repent and believe the Good News[6]. This kingdom that Jesus talks about contradicts all human logic and all forms of violence. It is to make the rule of God and his authority to be a reality in the life of the people. This is not imposed by force of arms or by any other force, but by the witness of the true Gospel message and by being salt and light to the world.
4. LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT Leadership training and development will be central in our leadership. For those who aspire to join the ordained ministry, we will encourage them to first have adequate theological training before ordination. For the pastors and lay readers who are already in the ministry, we will organize regular seminars and retreats at different levels to equip them with the needed skills for ministry in the Church. For an effective ministry, the leaders need to be well equipped for the task. We will work hard through the Episcopal University to train and produce God fearing cadre of educated leaders for the nation of South Sudan, Africa and the world at large. The University will be officially launched by mid-September this year.
5. PROVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES Since creation of the world, South Sudanese have been constantly experiencing enslavement, torture, bloodshed, displacement, ignorance, disease and hunger. We thought having our own country will improve our situation, but our own politicians have made everything worse for their own citizens. Life for the ordinary citizen is so hard and miserable. Our people continue to suffer in the refugee camps, internally displaced camps and those in the UN protection camps inside the country. We appeal to our politicians to put an end to this meaningless war and enable their citizens to experience what is peace. On our part, we will continue to advocate and appeal to the international development partners, faith based organizations and Governments to support our internal provinces and Dioceses in the struggle against hunger, ignorance, poverty and disease in our communities. In the Lord’s Prayer when we pray for the will of God to be done on earth as in heaven, we request God to enable us to make the kingdom a reality to his people by minimizing human suffering. Participation in the works of love and charity is a compulsory mandate for all Christians. The Lord Jesus himself said that He has come so that people may enjoy life to its fullness[7].
6. SUSTAINABILITY OF THE CHURCH Our leadership will encourage and initiate income generating projects for Church sustainability. Much effort will also be put to teach the Christians to own their Church by generously giving to support the Church mission activities. We will encourage the spirit of creativity and hard work by all bishops, pastors and the lay people to initiate programs that will make the church sustainable. We will see to it that all Dioceses and parishes are able to support their bishops and priests. The bible says those who work in the temple get their food from the temple[8], but it is sad to see our bishops and pastors suffering without any proper support for them. This situation needs to be reversed through hard work by both the Christians and the Church leaders. From the beginning, God created the world with provision of free and healthy food for human survival, but that free food was distorted by the sin of human disobedience[9]. Since then all foods for human survival comes through hard work. In the Lord’s Prayer, when we request for our daily bread, it means we ask God to give us the strength we need for work in order to sustain ourselves. In his letter to the Thessalonian Christians, St Paul discouraged the spirit of Idleness and emphasized the importance of work by saying that those who do not work must not eat.[10]Hard work will enable us to improve on the mission of God in the church.
7. PEACE BUILDING AND RECONCILIATION EFFORT Our leadership will continue to put much effort in the work of peace and reconciliation to plead on God’s behalf to our people so that they may open their hearts for God to heal our differences and change us from enemies into friends. I want to acknowledge and appreciate every effort exerted by our government and those in opposition as well as our IGAD partners who are seeking for peace in our country. May I call upon them to do more in this area by putting aside their political differences for the sake of peace to their helpless and suffering citizens. In the portion of the Lord’s Prayer which says: FORGIVE US OUR SINS AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN AGAINST US, the Lord Jesus teaches his disciples to reflect on the kindness and forgiveness of God towards them, so that the disciples can show the same kindness and forgiveness to others. The lord says ‘’When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grumble so that your heavenly father may in turn forgive you your wrong doings.[11] Jesus encourages us to forgive others seventy seven times in each day.[12] We ourselves will only receive mercy when we show mercy to others.[13] We ourselves will be measured with the same measure we use against others. Our sins can only be forgiven if we reconcile with those who have wronged us. Reconciliation is the only means to re-establish a peaceful relationship and a peaceful co-existence
8. DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING Our leadership will focus on discipleship training of all believers. This will be done through the formation of bible study groups in every Church to equip the Christians with the basic knowledge of the scriptures so that they are able to stand strong and resist temptations that the devil might bring on their way. Our administration will produce catechism materials to be available for the teaching of new believers. The period of teaching and preparing candidate for baptism and confirmations will be uniform throughout the province.
For effective discipleship in families, leadership will support the work of the Mothers Union to enable them continue to help teach families to demonstrate Christian values in which children will learn and grow as good Christians. Much attention will also be given to the youth and children’s work. Programs will be designed to mentor the youths and enable them set a good example in their speech and conduct, in love, faith and purity as St Paul said to Timothy.[14]
9. ENCOURAGING LIFE OF PRAYER AND FELLOWSHIPS Our leadership through the Dioceses and parishes will encourage all Christian to be members of a prayer group for encouragement and support. The secret of growth towards maturity is in attending regular prayer meetings. There is no such thing as a lone Christian. Right from the start of the church, the followers of Christ were members of fellowship groups that met together in homes for prayers. This gave strength to the Christians especially in times of difficulties and temptations.[15] We see from the national armies that they do not go to war alone, but they always go as a group. The fearful ones are encouraged by the brave moral songs of others. At difficult moments, our Lord Jesus instructs his followers to watch and pray so that they may not fall into temptation.[16] St Paul encouraged Christians to pray in the spirit on all occasions and with all kinds of prayers and requests.[17] Prayer is the only means of communication between God and the individual Christians; therefore each Christian needs a regular conversation with God by both listening and speaking to Him through prayers. A commitment to prayer promises growth, encouragement, and joy in the Christian life. In the Lord’s Prayer we say: ‘DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL ONE.’ This means we enforce our authority against all the attacks of the devil by prayer.
10. TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY The bible says that the world and all that is in it belongs to the Lord, the earth and all who live on it are His.[18] Christians will be taught to understand that everything they have is a gift from God and of which they are only caretakers. We will encourage all church institutions, internal provinces and Dioceses to keep a good record of all available properties and resources that God has placed under their care and make it available for planning purposes. Our books of finances will also be well kept, audited and be made available to the stakeholders and partners. By understanding and doing all these, we will give back to God what belongs to Him and his children. The last sentence of the Lord’s Prayer says: THE KINGDOM, THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS FOR EVER AND EVER. Amen.
[1] Matthew 28: 19-20 [2] Ibid 6: 9-14 [3] John 1: 12 [4] Mark 3: 33 [5] Galatians 3: 28 [6] Mark 1: 15 [7] John 10: 10 [8] 1Corinthians 9: 13-14 [9] Genesis 3: 19 [10] 2Thesalonians 3: 6-10 [11] Mark 11:25 [12] Matthew 18: 21-22 [13] Ibid 7:2 [14] 1 Timothy 4: 11 [15] Know, grow and live as a Christian, preparing for confirmation( 2014, p25) [16] Matthew 26: 41 [17] Ephesians 6: 18 [18] Psalms 24: 1