Friday, March 19, 2010

A Video from my friend (and hero) Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul

Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan is one of my heroes. I first got to know him when he was bishop of the Diocese of Renk with which the Diocese of Chicago has a companion relationship. Bishop Daniel has long been a leader of the Church in Sudan and a tireless advocate for peace and reconciliation. While he was still Bishop of Renk, I had the honor of traveling to the Diocese of Renk in February of 2005 as part of a delegation from our diocese.

While there, we visited the town of Melut, south of Renk. We were told that due to the civil war (which had only just formally ended a month before we went), it would not have been safe for us to go there a year before. As recently as 2002, 80 villages just south of Melut were burned to the ground by the government in Khartoum in an act of ethnic cleansing. The area is rich in oil and the northern government is determined to claim it before there is any division between the north and Southern Sudan. The people were rounded up and put in a sort of concentration camp. They were without food. When Bishop Daniel found out about this, he arranged to take a truck of grain to the people. He was stopped at a military check-point near the camp and told they could go no farther. Bishop Daniel insisted that he must go because the people were hungry. He was told that if he continued, he would be shot. This was no idle threat given the armies history. The bishop replied, “Then, you will have to shoot me. I will not let my people starve.” The unrelenting moral force of the bishop eventually won out. One of the soldiers relented and talked the others into letting the bishop go on and the much-needed grain was delivered to the people. One reads about folk like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Oscar Romero, and Mother Teresa. For the first time, with Bishop Daniel, I felt as though I was in the presence of such a one as these.

The Nancy he mentions in the video is Nancy Wang, the girlfriend of a member of St. Barnabas, Jonathan Lehe. Jonathan is in Africa working for the Clinton Foundation. Nancy has been working in Southern Sudan supplying the Ministry of Health, Government of Southern Sudan with essential drugs and hospital supplies. Through this connection, we at St. Barnabas are seeking to increase the aid we are able to provide to our sisters and brothers in Sudan.

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