To Rebuild Hope to His People


Today, we are launching Rising Hope in South Sudan with Jacob Guot. And I, therefore, invited Rt. Rev. Bishop Nathaniel Garang Anyieth, who ordained me as a deacon and priest in 2008, to officially open my podcast and the entire ministry. I am grateful to Rt. Rev. Bishop Anyieth for his continued support and guidance; this mission would not be possible without him.


My vision of Rising Hope in South Sudan came from the book of Nehemiah. So, my goal is to tell my story through Nehemiah’s viewpoint, because I am in exile like Nehemiah, and my home country needs rebuilding. This is why I have invited Rt. Rev. Bishop Anyieth to bless my ministry work before its kick-off. This podcast will be in Dinka.


From the minute I was ordained as a deacon, I knew that I had been called to serve God in whatever capacity I could. However, as a priest, I have a more significant role to play in giving God’s service to God’s people, and I am happy to serve God as I was called.


An early English missionary once described the Dinka people on his deathbed as “hard-headed” people who would not come to faith through an outsider after years of trying to bring them the Good News. “Only one of their children will be able to convert them,” he asserted. I believe I am one of those children mentioned by that missionary.


Week 1: How did Nehemiah leave his homeland in those days of exile?


The bible states, “…. Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned……” (Nehemiah 1:4-11 ESV). Therefore, our Father, God, forgive our people as South Sudanese for the irresponsibility of breaking your covenant through disobedience, hatred, and tearing each other down.


My people, we must learn more about Nehemiah’s life and struggles. His story represents someone who, centuries ago, also went through an exile. Nehemiah was born to Jewish parents in Persia during exile from Jerusalem. He held a unique, honored, and influential position in exile. The office of the cupbearer brought Nehemiah into close contact with the most powerful king.


One of the main points of Nehemiah’s story was his concern and prayer for his country. His parents were captured in Jerusalem and taken by the Persian invaders into exile in Babylon. But Nehemiah grew up loving his home country and the city of Jerusalem.


We have faced the same struggles in exile as Nehemiah did. I constantly live in fear and frustration for the future of our lives, our children, and our world. My concern is always for the children. I would encourage everyone to support themselves for the good of their children. We as parents must help our children and youth with education, and one of the things we must educate them about is our history. Where can they learn it without learning it from us?


We are always very impressed and thrilled with social media, and it feeds us all kinds of knowledge. But there are many unfortunate sides to social media if we are not careful how we use it. So, let’s ask ourselves to refrain from hatred and violence. Instead of spending much time arguing constantly, we should focus on the betterment of tomorrow.


With God’s help, Nehemiah led his people in Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and repair the temple. But later, the Jewish people’s energy and enthusiasm for the task started to fade. God restores partitions, but sometimes people don’t understand and may overlook God’s support. We must remember that God never gives up on anyone, neither does He forget about them or their work.


Can we believe in Nehemiah’s story as encouragement to us? Can we leave the world to our children without God’s support? Most of us are struggling financially, but still, we must work hard to help our children thrive in an excellent and blessed community in the western world. Let us encourage ourselves, rebuild our hopes, rebuild our families, rebuild our children and their education, and teach them to love and care for the place from which their parents came: Africa. The success of our children depends on us and what we put into raising them. If we teach our children to care for their families, community, and country, we equip them to think about their homes. They will thrive if they have love for their parents and for the ways they raised them.


I have learned that our African brothers and sisters find it difficult to pass those values on to the next generation, but we must believe in it now because it is not too late. We’re better together, and we will make a difference in our community if we improve the way we transmit our values to our children and the example we set for them by beginning to rebuild our home.


Nehemiah was captured in Jerusalem and taken by the Persian invaders into exile in Babylon. God put Nehemiah into the hands of the king, the person who had all the powers of his country. However, by a miracle, Nehemiah came to hold a privileged and influential position in his homeland of exile. He was cupbearer to Artaxerxes, king of Persia.


Nehemiah had received word from fellow exiles who had visited Jerusalem that his city and country were in dire need of repair. The king noticed Nehemiah’s sadness and asked him about it upon hearing this news. The king graciously gave Nehemiah permission to return to Jerusalem and repair the city and its protective wall. He even provided Nehemiah with supplies and obtained approval for Nehemiah to have a safe passage back to Jerusalem. This was in the middle of the fifth century.


Nehemiah successfully led his people to make the necessary repairs to the city wall, the city itself, and the temple. He also instituted moral and liturgical reforms in the renewed worship of Yahweh, their God.


This is different from how you and I have been exiled, brothers and sisters. I am troubled about how our community conducts itself here in the West. I am afraid that it is very destructive to our children and to us. We need to leave our differences behind us and remember where we came from.


My people, how did the Israelites get back to Israel?


According to the book of Nehemiah, several decades later, the Jews in Babylon were allowed to return to the Land of Israel due to Cyrus’s decree. As a result, some of them went, whereas most remained in Babylon.


One of the powerful messages of Nehemiah is how much you can accomplish when you bring yourself and your will into line with the trusted plan of God. Nehemiah and his followers did what seemed to be impossible because they did what God had called them to do.


You don’t have to rebuild a wall, as the Israelites did in Jerusalem, to do the will of God, but all of us have been called to do something. For me, it was a call to rebuild hope for my people, who have had the trauma of war forced on them. The war has produced many deaths and disabilities and made many widows and orphans.


Why did the Israelites get exiled to Babylon? In the Hebrew Bible, captivity in Babylon is presented as a punishment for idolatry and disobedience to Yahweh.


Prayer for Confession:


God, we love you. You touched my life in the Story of Nehemiah journeying back to his homeland. You helped him convince the people there of the necessity of repopulating the city and rebuilding its walls, just as you are helping me restore hope for my people. Nehemiah encountered hostility from the (non-Jewish) local officials in neighboring districts, but in 52 days, he worked well, thanks to Your favor. Just as you helped him, you are helping me face my challenges. You still keep me going strong to make a difference in my homeland, just like Nehemiah did for his. Help us rebuild hope in ourselves here and back home. Amen.