Back home in South Sudan’s Lakes State, conflict still rages. Like South Sudanese citizens from other parts of the country, many of the people of the Rt. Reverend Joseph Maker Atot’s Diocese of Pacong have fled from their homes as former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar’s “White Army” slaughters men, women, and children in Machar’s attempt to fulfill his decades-old lust for supreme power. While many (reportedly, over 16,000) have gone to Kakuma, the Kenyan refugee camp in the far northwest Turkana District, others have sought refuge in one of Kenya’s fourth largest city, Nakuru, in the southern part of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley.
Even before the conflict in South Sudan that began in December 2013, there were some 20,000 South Sudanese and Sudanese living in Nakuru. Many who have fled the Government of Sudan’s genocidal war on the Nuba Mountains are also staying in Nakuru. According to Bishop Maker, approximately 3700 South Sudanese newcomers have registered in Nakuru, with another 25,000 seeking to come to the area, as well.
In the manner that has become the standard of the Church in Sudan, communicating the courage, faith, and dignity of Sudanese and South Sudanese Christians, the refugees in Nakuru still turn to God as they did during the decades of war with the Islamist government in Khartoum. While still reeling from the devastation and death that has come to their beloved nation of South Sudan, the refugees at Nakuru celebrated Easter, rejoicing in the power of Christ’s Resurrection, and praying for the resurrection of their country.
Bishop Maker reported that over 2000 people attended the Episcopal Church of South Sudan & Sudan’s Easter service in Nakuru at which he presided. Joined by his wife, Helena, Maker spent three days with the Sudanese Christian community there. During the Easter service he confirmed 53 candidates, reporting that “there was a lot of joy.”
The worship structure of the South Sudanese refugees was not well-lit, but the light of Christ shone on each face. Easter lilies and other flowers did not adorn the church building, but the believers, led in triumph over sin and death by God in Christ, are spreading “the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2: 14).