The referendum to divide Sudan into two countries is only 3 days away. The eyes of the world are turning this way, and we can feel it.
Juba is calm. There is less traffic than usual, and more reporters than usual. But the overwhelming feeling is one of hope.
Saturday January 8, is a day of prayer throughout south Sudan. Two other times in the last two years the city of Juba has been shut down for a day of prayer. Once in June of 2009 to pray for peace at the time of the Abyei announcement, and once in April 2010 to pray for peace during the elections. Both times I was so moved to see inter-faith and ecumenical unity in prayer. People set aside their differences, closed their businesses, left their market stalls, closed their government offices, so that they could gather together all over the city and pray. The prayers lasted all night. I have never experienced anything like it. Even in the wake of September 11, 2001, my country was not as united in prayer, as the people of South Sudan were on those two occasions. And the fruit of those days of prayer has been miraculous peace. On both occasions, the international media predicted trouble, even war, but peace prevailed.
I fully expect people from all over Sudan, north and south, to spend Saturday in prayer. And I know we will be joined by the prayers of people from all over the world. And I also expect that the fruit of that prayer will be the miraculous presence of the Peace which passes understanding.
Prayers have already been answered. Logistical problems seem to have been surmounted, and some fighting factions in south Sudan have put down their arms. The Archbishop was instrumental in negotiating a recent peace deal with one such group. And all the dioceses of the Episcopal Church of Sudan have been promoting peace, and educating their people about peace.
I thank our friends and partners around the world for joining with us in praying for peace in Sudan.
Peace be with you.