John Jal Deng is a South Sudanese pastor. Over the past three years he has been studying theology at George Whitefield College in Cape Town, South Africa through the hard work of CORE Training and Development, a charity which aims to strengthen the Church in countries with depleted infrastructure like South Sudan. John graduated from his studies on 29th November 2018. Through Anglican International Development, the SCA supports this project by contributing funds for John. The following update is based on a recent interview with John.
After graduating on 29th November, John will return to Bishop Gwynne College to be part of the faculty there from February 2019 – the college is one of the main training centres for the Episcopal Church of South Sudan. While John is very thankful to God for the fantastic opportunity he has had to study in South Africa, he is excited to return home and pass on knowledge he has received while in Cape Town.
Responsibilities at Bishop Gwynne College
John’s new role will include helping his colleagues to develop a new degree programme with modules in Old Testament, systematic theology and an introduction to Greek and Hebrew. Previously he has mentioned that he has enjoyed the pastoral counselling training he has received while studying at George Whitefield College and John will be able to make good use of this in his home country where there is much suffering and grief resulting from conflict.
In South Sudan, the conflict that has caused over 380,000 deaths since 2013 is fought along tribal lines. This permeates every level of society – even the Church – but John knows that the transforming love of the gospel has no limits. He says:
‘The issue of tribalism can be challenged by the gospel. We are South Sudanese and as the church we are the body of Christ and need to see one another as brothers and sisters. There is no need to kill each other. This will be part of my role at the college – to teach the pastors so that they can be sent back to transform the community and our people.’
We praise God for John’s willingness to play a part in bringing unity and reconciliation to his community and pray that he, along with other staff at Bishop Gwynne College, will be a shining light in addressing issues that have caused so much bloodshed and suffering.
Future South Sudanese Students at George Whitefield College
Samuel Marial, the Principal of Bishop Gwynne College, has described the increasing number of South Sudanese students studying at George Whitefield in order to go back to teach at Bishop Gwynne as a ‘movement of transformation’. John is encouraged that he can see God’s plan for South Sudan in action through the work of sending students to South Africa to study:
‘We had never thought of coming to South Africa to study but we realised that God is working through many people. The more people that are trained and go back to our country, the more our church and country can be changed. I believe God is preparing good leaders for the church, who will transform the country once and for all. We believe this is God’s work.’