The COVID-19 pandemic has so dominated the lives of many Australians and New Zealanders at home that it’s been easy to forget that around the world people are suffering.
But Peter Gerang Deng hasn’t forgotten the troubles and tragedies of his homeland of South Sudan in Africa. Peter, who like his wife Rebecca Manyang is from the Denka ethnic group, is an educator and an elder at Immanuel Lutheran Church North Adelaide.
Concerned that locals were no longer aware of needs beyond their own restrictions and borders, Peter raised the issue with Immanuel’s pastor, Rev Dr Mark Worthing. ‘He said, “Pastor, can we do something to encourage people to pray for South Sudan?”’, Pastor Mark explains. ‘Peter made a presentation to the congregation about the needs in South Sudan. That’s how the “Family Prayer Challenge” came about.’
Peter and Pastor Mark launched a month-long prayer challenge in late October, giving out guides so that members, along with their families and friends, were ready to start the innovative program the following Sunday. While prayer was pivotal, there were three key elements of the challenge each week for four weeks for those taking part – learn, pray, act.
‘We wanted to encourage everyone to learn more about the needs in South Sudan, to pray for its people, and to explore ways to concretely help’, Pastor Mark says. ‘We also wanted to encourage people to do this as families, or with a friend or group.’
Peter, who became a teacher through Lutheran World Federation at Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, said the prayer challenge was helping to raise awareness locally of the ‘chaotic’ situation in South Sudan.
‘I often speak to elders at North Adelaide who came from Germany after World War II’, Peter says. ‘They think they are no longer refugees but when people talk about refugees and what they face, it’s something they can relate to easily.’
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