Franklin Graham Celebrates South Sudan’s Independence Day

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Franklin Graham will be a witness to South Sudan history this weekend.

CEO and president of both Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham
Evangelistic Association will be on hand to celebrate South Sudan’s
first weekend of Independence from Sudan.

Saturday marks South Sudan’s official Independence Day.

just celebrated the birth of the United States, so it is with special
appreciation that we now turn to another nation preparing to start its
own journey of independence,” Franklin Graham said in a Samaritan’s
Purse statement. “Saturday, July 9, will be the day that South Sudan
will officially become the youngest country on earth.”

this historic event, Graham will meet with the presidents of both
countries, first with South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit on
Saturday, before departing for Khartoum to meet with Sudanese President
Omar al-Bashir.

A military parade and other celebrations are
planned and dozens of world leaders are also expected to witness
Saturday’s festivities.

“For the past few decades, the world has
watched this part of Africa suffer through one of the deadliest civil
wars in history,” Graham said. “As I look back over the years that
Samaritan’s Purse has been providing relief and aid across a war-torn
Sudan, it now brings me great joy and honor to attend the celebration of
South Sudan’s Independence Day.”

Ken Isaacs, vice president of programs for Samaritan’s Purse, will accompany Graham in Juba,
the new capital of South Sudan. Isaacs has been working in this country for
nearly 20 years.

“I hope that believers all over the world will
keep praying for South Sudan to become a prosperous country and a beacon
of freedom in the Horn of Africa,” Isaacs said. “I also hope you will
join me in praising God for this new nation.”

On Isaacs’ first
trip almost two decades ago, “Civil war was raging and the people in the
south were living in the most miserable circumstances imaginable.”

and the rest of South Sudan is still recovering from the civil war that
killed over two million people from 1983 to 2005, but with its
new-found freedom and the help of Samaritan’s Purse, Africa’s 54th
country has reason for hope.

Isaacs remembers January 9, 2005,
the day the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed, vividly: “I had
spent so many ears watching the people in southern Sudan fight to
survive and praying with them that peace would come.”

But Isaacs
also knows the South Sudan situation is still an uphill climb, with only
15 percent of this new country literate and a shortage of basic

“Most of the south has little or no infrastructure,”
he said. “Most people there have no access to basics like clean water
and education.”

Since 1993, Samaritan’s Purse has invested around
$100 million to help the people of Sudan, rebuilding 425 churches since
2005, many in remote villages.

In 1997, Samaritan’s Purse began
restoring the Lui Hospital, the only primary care facility for hundreds
of thousands, and operated it during the civil war.

The Kurmuk
Hospital, which Samaritan’s Purse rehabilitated in 2002 and continues to
operate, is the only secondary facility in the southern half of Blue
Nile State where patients can receive specialized treatment.

Purse has also rehabbed three primary healthcare units, a hospital ward
and a TB ward in eastern Sudan, where severely malnourished children
and nursing mothers are being served.

“There is still much that
needs to be done to help the people of both countries,” Graham said,
“and I pray that God will give these leaders wisdom and courage to lead
their people, uniting their hearts toward the goal of reconciliation and

Used with permission from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.

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