A Covenant Bridges the Miles from Virginia to South Sudan

Dec 3, 2021 | Stories from the Diocese

By Joseph Reynolds

The Diocese of Ezo celebrated the October 2021 enthronement
of Bishop Isaac Ephraim Bangisa.

This year, the people of St. Francis, Great Falls, raised funds to repair a well that is now pumping water to serve a community in the Diocese of Ezo, South Sudan. Over the 23 years of the congregation’s covenantal relationship with the Diocese of Ezo, St. Francis has also provided support for the schools, purchased seeds for planting, and supplied money for medical supplies.

The need is enormous. At last report, there are 18,000 Christians in the Diocese of Ezo and many refugees from other regions in need of help.

Forged in 1998, the covenant between St. Francis and the Diocese of Ezo embodies mutual promises that bind the two very different Christian communities. One promise states, “St. Francis covenants to pray for, learn about, and assist the work of the Church in the Ezo Diocese to carry out God’s will, reconcile differences, educate its people, improve their health, and lift them out of poverty.

While the strength of the commitments has ebbed and flowed over the years, the relationship has held steady in the face of devastating hardships endured by the people of Ezo. The Diocese is located in one of the poorest areas of South Sudan in the southwest corner of the country and has suffered civil wars, terrorist raids, famine, fires, and tribal warfare.

The parishioners of St. Francis have followed the trials of Ezo, offering support through prayer, communications, and fundraising. During the brief, relatively peaceful times, St. Francis was able to send parishioners to visit South Sudan, with trips in 2008 and 2013. In 2018, the Ezo bishop visited Virginia as a guest of St. Francis.

Ezo residents rejoice over the newly repaired water pump and well, made possible with funds from St. Francis.

Now under the leadership of a new bishop, the Rt. Rev. Isaac Ephraim Bangisa, the Diocese has developed an ambitious strategic plan to rebuild services and provide for the physical and spiritual needs of the people. The plan includes a host of projects, such as construction, strengthening and expanding education programs, extensive training, peace building, and reconciliation.

St. Francis would gladly welcome and join forces with any outreach program in the Diocese of Virginia that sees room to take a small piece of the challenge. Let us know, and we will help facilitate the desired focus.

The heart of Christianity is love of Christ and a deep sense of community. Community can be both near and far, and St. Francis and Ezo are bound together by the belief in their covenantal promises and their faith in God’s boundless grace and mercy.

Joseph Reynolds is a parishioner of St. Francis, Great Falls and a member of the Ezo Committee that works to help St. Francis live out its covenantal promises.