“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Mourning in Moruland
Our very good friend, Rev. Canon Kenneth Kilaki Baringwa, of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, has gone to be with the Lord. He died in Juba at Freedom International Hospital and his body will be transported back to his home town of Mundri for burial at Christ Cathedral. He was born 1 January 1946 and passed into eternity on Tuesday, 28 January 2020.
Macedonian Call to Moruland
It was Rev. Kenneth Baringwa, who first tracked me down and gave me the Macedonian Call, in 1995: “You must come to Moruland!” he declared. Kenneth Baringwa was aware of my work on behalf of the persecuted church in Mozambique and Angola and was convinced that I would be a friend in need for the Christians suffering in South Sudan.
Emergency in Equatoria
He wrote to me and we managed to meet during my mission to East Africa in 1995. I had just returned from Rwanda and it was in Nairobi, Kenya, that we first met and he explained the desperate plight of our brothers and sisters in Christ, in South Sudan. Their churches were being bombed by the Sudan Air Force and Arab forces were waging a scorched earth campaign against their communities in Equatoria. Crops were being burned, livestock stolen, or killed, pastors were being executed and they had no Bibles and no medicines. Their children were growing up without schools. The communities were in desperate need!
Working Together in the War Zone
It was Rev. Kenneth Baringwa, who organised the first Church Conferences for pastors and Seminars to train schoolteachers. He also brought to me the first Chaplains for training for the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA). Kenneth Baringwa was an invaluable guide, translator, organiser and enabler, who made things happen. We can safely say that it was Rev. Kenneth Baringwa who challenged me to make South Sudan a central focus of my ministry for many years. He was the one who organised hundreds of church meetings and outreaches in many villages and ministry amongst the military.
Bibles and Textbooks for Teachers
By God's grace, we were able to deliver hundreds-of-thousands of Bibles and Christian books into Western Equatoria and restore the Bishop Gwynne Bible College. We helped to equip over 100 primary schools and a Christian High school with quality Christian textbooks.
As a result of Canon Kenneth Baringwa’s efforts, I trained the first Chaplains of the SPLA and provided them with Chaplains Handbooks, Bibles, boots, berets, Bible bags, bicycles, backpacks, audiovisual Gospel Messenger hand-cranked, or solar panel powered, tape recorders, with accompanying flip charts, God Story VCD kits and much more.
We were able to provide the first paramedic training to SPLA Medics. We also flew in the first 50 paramedic bags, fully equipped to enable these medics to provide basic First Aid to wounded soldiers. We also drove up a 4 Wheel Drive ambulance to transport the wounded to medical care.
The Desperate Need for Medicines and Doctors
It was Kenneth Baringwa who challenged us to please bring medicines and doctors into the war zones of South Sudan. There was not even one hospital for seven million people in Equatoria. In a Medic Training Course, I gave lectures and practicals in the four B’s of First Aid: Breathing; Bleeding; Breakages and Burns. We then flew in a nursing sister to give medical training and later medical doctors to conduct further training.
Under Fire in Sudan
On many occasions, Kenneth Baringwa and I walked long distances to minister to remote villages. We endured aerial, artillery and rocket bombardments together, as well as arrest, detention and interrogation.
Remembering the Pioneer Ministry of Kenneth Fraser
Kenneth Baringwa explained to me how the Gospel came to Moruland, through the extraordinary ministry of Dr. Kenneth Fraser. This led me to track down the book: The Doctor Comes to Lui – A Story of Beginnings in Sudan, by Eileen Fraser, first published by the Church Missionary Society in 1938. With a copy from a second hand bookshop, we published this book and it was received with much rejoicing in Moruland. As one pastor described: “You have given us back our history!”
The Rwandan Genocide
In praying as to how best we could respond to the request to establish a hospital in the Liberated zones of South Sudan, one ministry seemed to me to be the ideal answer, Samaritans Purse. During my mission to Rwanda, Samaritans Purse had been the only medical mission working in that devastated country. They waded into the sewer system of Kigali hospital to extract the vast amounts of body parts blocking the entire drainage system, broke up the congealed blood and restored the hospital to full operation, despite the plague of rats and myriads of flying, crawling insects. When even the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontiéres) had fled the genocide in Rwanda, Samaritans Purse was the only medical mission operational in that desperately needy country, at its time of greatest need.
Approaching Samaritans Purse
So, I wrote to Franklin Graham, head of Samaritans Purse (SP), requesting his involvement. Soon the reply came, from his secretary, that their programme was full and SP was overcommitted, not able to take on any new projects. As I was praying over this, the news came that Franklin Graham was scheduled to come to Cape Town, South Africa, to conduct an Evangelistic Crusade at Newlands Cricket grounds! I eagerly wrote again, requesting an interview with Franklin Graham when he was in Cape Town. Another polite reply came back informing me that, sorry, but his programme was full.
An Invitation to City Hall
Pondering this, convinced that this had to be God's timing, wondering how I would manage to meet him, a gold embossed envelope was delivered to my desk. Inside it was a card from the Mayor of Cape Town, inviting me to a Prayer Breakfast at City Hall, where the guests of honour would be: Franklin Graham! I praised God.
Meeting Franklin Graham
On the day of the Prayer Breakfast, I ensured that I was there early. Parking my motorbike close to the entrance, I walked in with my helmet over one arm. I greeted Franklin Graham: “Mr Graham, I believe that you are also a motorbiker?” Franklin Graham beamed, replied that he was and told me about his Harley Davidson. Next, I commented: “I see that you have been working amongst the Contra resistance fighters in Nicaragua?” Franklin Graham replied: “Yes, I have.”
“I have one question for you, Mr Graham: Why is Samaritans Purse not involved in Sudan?”
“We have been,” he replied.
“Yes, but that was in Upper Nile and I know that the experience was frustrating, but you were trusting in the wrong people. Riek Machar’s crowd are surrogates of the Muslim government.”
Mr Graham looked surprised. “I did not know that,” he said.
“I know the people that you can trust in South Sudan, in Equatoria. I also know just the right hospital for Samaritans Purse to renovate and use as your base of operations in Lui. It was the first hospital established in South Sudan, by pioneer missionary, Dr. Kenneth Fraser. There is no hospital for seven million people in Free Equatoria...”
Mission to Sudan
At this point, a line was beginning to form behind me and Mr Graham had to politely excuse himself to give attention to other guests arriving. Later, during the prayer breakfast, he brought me his Operations Manager, Ken Isaacs, to brief. At first, Mr Isaacs was a bit skeptical, leaning back with his legs crossed and his arms folded. Soon, however, he was leaning forward, looking at my photographs and maps and asking penetrating questions. Two days later, I received a phone call from Ken Isaacs: “Franklin has given us the green light. Can you take us into South Sudan in 2 days’ time?” I was a bit overwhelmed at the abruptness, as I had a full and demanding programme. Ken challenged me: “Peter, you have a green light, go through the intersection!” So, I rearranged my schedule, cleared my plate and headed off to Nairobi to lead Ken Isaacs and the Samaritans Purse exploratory team into Moruland to explore the newly liberated town of Lui.
The Legacy of Kenneth Fraser
I had told Ken Isaacs much about Dr. Kenneth Fraser, the pioneer CMS Missionary, who had established the first hospital, the first school and the first church in Equatoria. I told him that the people of Moruland were so evangelised that you could leave your wallet on the road outside the market place and someone would bring it to you and nothing would be missing. So, one morning, as we were driving out to explore the newly liberated town and hospital at Lui, Ken asked me to hand him my wallet. Whereupon he unceremoniously threw it out the window to land on the ground outside the market place! The rest of the American team roared with laughter.
A Test Case of the Character of a Community
It was a full day and my thoughts often returned to my wallet lying as a test case outside the Mundri marketplace on the main road. Not that there was much money in it. There were just a few cards, a couple of notes and my ID card. However, I began to have second thoughts and to worry over what might happen if someone from another tribe was passing by. There was no word when we returned that night. However, the next morning, which was a Sunday, on the way to church, Canon Reuben, came up to me with two young boys and asked if this wallet was mine. Sure enough it was. “These two boys found it and seeing your picture inside, they brought it to me to return to you.” I looked inside and nothing was missing. I looked sideways at Ken Isaacs and his team. They are all standing there, open-mouthed, wide-eyed, in obvious shock. They were impressed.
The Hospital in Lui
From that point, it was clear that Samaritans Purse was committed to establishing a hospital in Moruland. Within just a matter of weeks, they were back, fully laden with everything necessary. Within days, they set up a fully operational hospital, with surgery, equipment and specialist staff. It was impressive! Initially, they only planned to be there for 6 months. As Ken Isaacs explained, “We seldom are anywhere for more than three months at a time. However, we will commit ourselves to South Sudan for six months.” Ten years later, they were still running the hospital in Lui. The longest running and most successful medical operation in the history of Samaritans Purse. They saved tens-of thousands of lives and treated hundreds of thousands of patients. None of that would have happened without the Macedonian Call of Kenneth Baringwa and the integrity of the Christians in Moruland.
Pray for the Baringwa Family
Please remember in prayer, Rev. Kenneth Baringwa’s wife, Grace and their children: Lexton Ndio Kenneth Baringwa, Slyvia Surah Kenneth Baringwa, Vivian Koleva Kenneth Baringwa, Hellen Kayi Kenneth Baringwa, Late Siti Victoria Kenneth Baringwa, Atana Kenneth Baringwa, Adari Anderson Kenneth Baringwa and Lako Kenneth Baringwa, along with his grandchildren: Loyo Francis Baringwa, Edita Dawa James Timon, Aya Doroka James Timon, Benjamin James Timon, Maria Riya Baringwa, Koffi Annan Baringwa, Shida Mary Baringwa, Raymond Zakayo Baringwa, Ladu Leben Baringwa, Lucy Aguli Baringwa, Alice Khamisa Baringwa, Kezia Ongo Baringwa, Simon Brian Baringwa, Chokote Vailes Baringwa and Adalla Labari Baringwa. Reverend and Mrs Baringwa were blessed with 8 children (4 sons and 4 daughters) and 15 grandchildren (7 boys and 8 girls).
A Faithful and Fruitful Servant of God
We praise God for the life and legacy of Rev. Canon Kenneth Kilaki Baringwa. He was a good and true friend. A tireless Christian worker, dedicated to the Episcopal Church of Sudan. Kenneth Baringwa was a patriotic South Sudanese committed to Freedom and Independence for his country. He was courageous, dedicated, dependable and diligent. Truly, Canon Kenneth Baringwa can declare: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the Faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
In Sure and Certain Hope of the Resurrection
We praise God that our Lord Jesus Christ is “…the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live…” John 11:25-26
May God search each one of our hearts, that in pain we may find comfort, in sorrow, hope and in death, Resurrection.
Rev. Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa