Southern Sudan: welcome to the newest country in the world

A new sign greets passengers disembarking from the flight that carried them to Juba International Airport. The message is simple … Continued

A new sign greets passengers disembarking from the flight that carried them to Juba International Airport. The message is simple yet deeply moving, “Welcome to 193rd Country of the World.” Southern Sudan’s formal independence begins on July 9th, a day that will officially launch the new Republic of South Sudan. Millions have sacrificed their lives, blood, and livelihood in the hopes that one day a new nation would be established for their children and grandchildren. A nation that respects religious, cultural, economic, and political freedoms while providing the stability that ensures their continued enjoyment. That day, when the Republic of South Sudan’s flag is hoisted and the Republic of Sudan flag is lowered, is on the horizon.

Image via Jordan Sekulow

The ACLJ was honored to be invited by the Government of Southern Sudan’s (GoSS) Office of the President to visit Juba and meet with government and business leaders on a multitude of issues. As the ACLJ’s expertise is primarily constitutional and international law and government affairs; our first meeting was with the Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development. There will be a full rewrite of South Sudan’s constitution and ACLJ experts will be assisting in a number of ways. Initially, we are planning for the establishment of legal training programs in Juba. Legal education is important as many southern Sudanese lawyers were trained either outside Sudan or at Islamic law institutions in Khartoum. These programs will hopefully develop into the establishment of a fully functioning law school in South Sudan. Even in a country without a single traffic light and few paved roads, leaders know that the rule of law is key to development and sustainability.

Image via Jordan Sekulow

It is not easy to put into words shaking hands and meeting with President Salva Kiir. A general and now chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA/M), President Kiir is a tremendous leader who listened intently to our remarks about what the ACLJ has been doing on behalf of GoSS in Washington, DC, and how we hope to assist in the future. Hearing President Kiir’s blessings on the ACLJ’s continued assistance of South Sudan and acknowledgment of our past work was humbling and inspiring.

South Sudan will face many challenges as a new nation. Yet, we know from history, that it is a people who faced adversity a number of times and emerged triumphantly. Faith plays a central role in the lives of southern Sudanese. Each time the predominantly Arab, Muslim North attempted to scare southerners into accepting Islam, church attendance increased. Actively participating in public religious expression became not only a religious statement, but also a political message to the government in Khartoum.

Image via Jordan Sekulow

I brought Al Jazeera-English to the All Saints Cathedral in Juba on Sunday. The producer, who lives in London, was astonished to see the number of people who packed the church as it switched from an Arabic to an English service. Christianity – traditional Protestantism, Catholicism, and evangelicalism – is a powerful force in South Sudan.

Image via Jordan Sekulow

I knew this before I visited South Sudan because many GoSS officials ended their meetings with us in D.C. by a request for continued prayer for their nation. Visiting Juba, it reaffirmed my own faith to see how powerful a force for good that the Christian faith has the potential to be.

Image via Jordan Sekulow


Elizabeth Tenety Elizabeth Tenety is the former editor of On Faith, where she produced "Divine Impulses," On Faith’s video interview series. She studied Theology and Government at Georgetown University and received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A New York native, Elizabeth grew up in the home of Catholic news junkies where, somewhere in between watching the nightly news and participating in parish life, she learned to ponder both the superficial and the sacred.
  • WmarkW

    So can we expect they’ll write a constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion, and the judges and lawyers the ACLJ trained will make sure it only applies to Christians?

  • Kingofkings1

    Why is it that some regions are provided intense western support for creation of new countries such as east timor and South Sudan, while others such as kashmir, palestine and chechnya are left in limbo for decades? Hypocrisy, you are a

  • abrahamhab1

    Southern Sudan was and to a lesser extent is still a hunting ground for slaves. The people of the North refer to Southerners as “abeed” which is the Arabic word for “slaves”. The Southerners refer to the Northern arabized Muslim tribes as “Jallaba” which is the Arabic word for “slave traders”. Mohammed Ali, the founder of the last Egyptian dynasty that terminated with Farouk, was an Albanian serving in the Ottoman Turk army stationed in Egypt. His first act after seizing power in the early 19th Century was to invade the Sudan mainly to engage in the very profitable slave trade. The exorbitant wealth accumulated by that corrupt dynasty was first obtained through the slave trade and after Britain actively fought that “trade” in Africa they reverted to robbing the Egyptian people very much like Mubarak and his henchmen have lately been doing.

  • Jack83

    This is a great time for the people of South Sudan, and I thank the ACLJ for their involvement in the freedom of this nation. It’s long overdue, these people have suffered long and hard under the previous political/religious leaders in the area.

  • roseywinters

    Because the non-Muslim world stood by and simply watched the genocidal jihad in Sudan (perhaps thinking North Sudan was better equipped to export the oil found in South Sudan), we owe the people of South Sudan our support and help to become a successfully independent country. U.S. aid to Southern Sudan should be in the form of the Army Corps of Engineers (with troops for protection) building and rebuilding the infrastructure for the common people and in the form of open trade which is careful to preserve the rights of the Southern Sudanese to their resources and livelihoods. It is not a colony but an independent state, much like a young neighbor who needs just a little watching out for because there are predators who would take advantage (let’s not be one of those, even via corporations).

  • efloralshops

    I am so proud of the ACLJ and very thankful I have supported them for a long time. Many have no idea how your group has helped many nations but I remember and thank you again. This was so wonderful to hear especially after they have suffered so much.

  • ThankaVeteran2day

    This is exciting news! This is also a lesson to the free people of the world…never take your freedoms for granted. Participate in the political system (be an informed voter, for example).Thank you to the people of Southern Sudan for your freedom efforts and thank you also to ACLJ.

  • Jill007

    Now this is news, and extraordinary news at that; how enlightening to see God’s will prevailing, and shining though for the people of Southern Sudan ! What a relief to see their long suffering at long last finally coming to an end. Jordan’s strong, faithful, persistent, dedicated role in this endeavor, and the ACLJ at work for the rights of Christianity, is a refreshing, healing balm for many troubled souls. In a broken world where we have wearily grown accustomed to expecting the worst, freedom, redemption, and the right of practicing one’s own faith without fear is exemplary. May God continue to richly bless His children, and those who are tirelessly blessing others in this often difficult and troubled life. The ACLJ is making a truly remarkable, positive impact in our world in defense of protecting the Christian faith, and for that I thank God.

  • areyousaying

    Hopefully without Sekulow’s “Christian” version of Sharia law.

  • areyousaying

    Now I understand why Sekulow thinks he has a lot of weight to throw around.

  • WmarkW

    Why do I recognize the screen names of the critical or purely evaluative comments below, but not the glowing ones singing the praises of the ACLJ?

  • MrCool1

    South Sudan, was the spark that encouraged others in the Middle East, Africa, and around the world, to see that they could stand up to criminals and tyranny and say no more. God Bless, all those around the world who heard the call of Liberty and Justice and rose up to take hold of a better life. Freedom is never free, the cost is always great, but the end result is justice for all…

  • ulner3

    The abolishment of force-acceptance of Islam and uprise of Christianity in the newly established country of Southern Sudan is quite an event. Now that South Sudan is a ripe country with oppertunity for a better future, Christiany sweeps in to overcome the people with their influence. This shows that they are in-fact Hu”MAIN”s as we all are, though think of themselves as the “MAIN” influence. Quite a feat.

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