Deacon Deborah Goldfeder writes for the Diocese of Missouri about her visit to Kiryandongo, South Sudan, earlier this year:
How did benches become a symbol of peace and reconciliation between two tribes that have been enemies as far as anyone can remember?
On March 13, I traveled with our Swedish partners in mission from the Diocese of Lund to the Kiryandongo. It is a practice to give a sum of money from the Diocese of Missouri to the communities when we visit them, so I gave the money to the Rev. Sosthen with the instruction that it was a gift from Missouri and it could be used in whatever way he thought was best for the community.
The next day, Sosthen said he hadn’t been able to sleep all night trying to decide what to do with this (small) windfall of money. He told me what he felt that God had put on his heart to do, and he wondered how we would feel about his decision. He told me he had recently been invited to the Dinka church to preach and he noticed they had no place to sit. They sat on the floor. What would I think if he spent about a third of the money to purchase benches for the Dinka church?
I was stunned and I told him that I thought it was a wonderful thing to do! He also decided to give half the money to the School Teachers’ Incentive and the remainder he would spend to purchase a water tank for the community so they could collect the rainwater and have plenty of free water. He said in a recent text, “Now we are having water during the day time because the tank is helping us.”