Bishop Bullen Dolli, the bishop of Lui Diocese, has sent an urgent prayer alert to us. On July the 3rd and 4th, some SPLA soldiers threatened, abused and beat some of the pastors and members of the congregation, interfered in a Sunday morning worship service in the Lui Cathedral and damaged the graves of Dr Kenneth Fraser and other pioneer Christian missionaries.
Bishop Bullen reports that on 3 July, at about 8pm, some SPLA soldiers, the same ones who had looted the Frontline mission base, came to Lui to ask for burial permission in the cathedral compound for a commander of the SPLA who had passed away in Yei. The provost of the cathedral explained that the cathedral cemetery was only available for members of the church, so the body of the commander was taken to Lanyi and buried there. On the night of 3 July, some of the soldiers came back and beat two of the ministers. The provost fled to the commissioner 28km away in Kotobi, where he remained in hiding for the next month. The soldiers then sought to desecrate and damage the graves of Dr Kenneth Fraser and other pioneer missionaries whose gravestones are in the cathedral compound. The next day, Sunday 4 July, the same soldiers came and threatened the congregation at gunpoint to prevent them from attending the services. They shot into the church and frightened people away.
Bishop Bullen was away at the time, but between 29 July and 5 August, Bishop Bullen visited Lui and investigated the incident. The whole community is horrified at the abuse and disrespect shown not just to the local Christians, but to ministers of the Gospel, the Lord's Church, and the Lord's servants. There is particular horror at the lack of respect shown for the graves of their Christian ancestors, including the Founder of the Church in Moruland, Dr Kenneth Fraser.
Bishop Bullen Dolli has worked very hard to present the just cause of the people of Southern Sudan world-wide. He has suffered and sacrificed much for the cause of freedom in Southern Sudan. Bishop Bullen's brother was killed for refusing to renounce his faith in Christ. Muslim troops threatened his brother, demanding that he renounce his faith in Christ. When he refused, he was dragged behind a military vehicle until he was badly injured. The Arabs then poured gasoline over him and set him alight, killing him.
Bishop Bullen was with Canon Ezra Lawiri when he was killed in an ambush with the Arabs in 1991. Canon Ezra Lawiri was the Bible translator who completed the translation of the whole Bible into the Moru language. Bullen Dolli was the first bishop to be consecrated in Free Sudan, in liberated territory, back in 1999, in Lui Cathedral, which is the birth place of Christianity in Moruland. The cathedral in Lui has been destroyed three times by the Muslim government, and rebuilt each time. The Government of Sudan Air Force has bombed the community, that includes the Lui Cathedral, ten times. The Cathedral in Lui stands next to Laro, the old slave tree under which the Arabs used to tether up the Moru people en route to the slave market in Khartoum. It was under this one time slave tree that the pioneer missionary, Dr Kenneth Fraser, started the first Bible study group.
The shocking conduct of the ill-behaved SPLA soldiers has horrified the people not only in Lui but throughout Moruland and Southern Sudan. As some have said: This is not what so many people have sacrificed, fought and died for. Those who have committed this atrocity are betraying the cause of freedom, which so many have worked hard for over all these many years.
Bishop Bullen Dolli has worked very hard, even travelling overseas to present the best image of the SPLA as fighters for religious freedom in Sudan. It is bad conduct like this which destroys so much of what others have worked hard for, and which undermines the confidence of those who want to support the just cause of the people of Southern Sudan.
When the Arabs were attacking, when the government of Sudan Air Force was bombing, when times were hard, difficult and dangerous, these same soldiers came to the church, pleading for help, urging the believers to pray for them, and to speak up for their cause. They urged us to mobilise prayer and pressure world-wide against the National Islamic Front Government in Khartoum. But now that the prayers of so many Christians have been answered so that there is a cease fire, peace talks and relative peace - now these individuals are turning their backs on God, desecrating Christian graves of the Founders of the Church in Southern Sudan, assaulting ministers of the Gospel and interfering with a worship service. Evidently these men do not fear God.
Please pray with us that the authorities will promptly and thoroughly deal with these abuses so that it will be clear to all that the rule of law is upheld in Southern Sudan, that the SPLA respects the Church, people and property.
What these ill-behaved soldiers have done has caused more damage to the cause of freedom in Southern Sudan than whole divisions of Arab troops. As has been observed, one incident like this causes more damage than dozens of aerial bombardments.
The very best friends of Southern Sudan, the only friends who stood with the people of Southern Sudan during the dark days, were the Christians. It was the Church, both in Southern Sudan and world-wide, who were the only ones who spoke up, who exposed the atrocities of the Government of Sudan, who prayed and mobilised pressure world-wide.
It was the Christians who came with many tonnes of medicines, training the medics, the nurses, chaplains and teachers, helping to rebuild the hospitals, clinics and schools which the Government of Sudan had destroyed. At great risk to our lives, we have proven ourselves true friends of the people of Southern Sudan. However, these looters and vandals are traitors. As one person has observed: They may as well bow to Mecca, put towels around their heads and go and fight for the National Islamic Front. They will do less damage to the South that way.
You can address your concerns to the SPLA leadership by e-mailing: Dr Samson Kwaji, SPLM, Secretariat for Information (E-Mail:firstname.lastname@example.org or Fax: +254-2-713223).
Please do write letters of encouragement and support to Bishop Bullen Dolli of Lui Diocese (E-Mail: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org or E.C.S. P O Box 60837, Nairobi, Kenya).
The Diocese of Lui is seeking for assistance to re-build the damaged memorials to the pioneer missionaries who laid the foundations for the Church in Southern Sudan.
Please do also pray for our ongoing theological training programme, establishing Holy Trinity College in Southern Sudan, and the restoration of Christ Cathedral project. Also for our Libraries for Pastors and Textbooks for Teachers projects, the planned teacher training seminars and providing sufficient Christian textbooks for the hundred primary schools in Moruland.
"Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith." 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
For further information on the conflict in Sudan, obtain the videos by Jeremiah Films:
Sudan the Hidden Holocaust AND
Terrorism and Persecution
And the books:
Faith Under Fire in Sudan AND
The Doctor Comes to Lui
Available from Frontline Fellowship: P O Box 74, Newlands, 7725, Cape Town, South Africa