Weekly News

The Regional Synod of New York

Update from JJ TenClay

This letter is #4 in a series of Dear Friends letters I’m writing for 2024, focusing on the word “connection.” If you’d like to go back and read the first three letters in this series, please visit my RCA missionary page at rca.org/tenclay; scroll down to the Resources section on the right-hand side of the page and click on the links for the three 2024 Dear Friends letters.

This letter is focused on another labor of love that has been several years in the making.

In January 2019, shortly after I returned to the U.S. from serving as a missionary in Italy and accepting this new role as Refugee Ministries Coordinator, I was given the opportunity to host a four-part series of FB live events entitled Let’s Talk: Refugee Care. I invited Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather to join us as part of the panel for the fourth part of the series, but as I’m sure you can imagine, working with refugees in Africa is work that is filled with emergencies and technical difficulties, and they weren’t able to join us.

This did, however, open the door to communication between the Smith-Mathers and I about their work and how we could partner together to share the love of Christ with South Sudanese refugees.

Then COVID hit and we all scrambled to figure out the best ways to care for refugees and displaced people amid a global pandemic.

But, by 2021, as we observed the 10th anniversary of the independence of South Sudan from Sudan and witnessed the ongoing conflict and displacement that affected millions of South Sudanese citizens, I knew it was time to get serious about using my role to shine a spotlight on the needs of South Sudanese refugees and the work of Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather and our RCA Global Mission partners of RECONCILE International.

This determination was solidified when, by the end of 2021, the United Nations reported, “The South Sudan situation continued to be the largest refugee crisis in Africa, and one of the most underfunded, with the Regional Refugee Response Plan only 17% funded. Despite some progress, peace remained fragile, and humanitarian challenges, including acute food insecurity, persisted.”

The people of South Sudan have faced over 50 years of violent conflict, death, displacement, gender-based violence, political instability, food insecurity, droughts, famines, floods, cholera, malaria, and beyond. Are we paying attention?

In early 2022, I met with Derrick Jones, supervisor of RCA mission in Africa, and proposed that we work together with the Smith-Mathers and RECONCILE International to identify a current unmet need for South Sudanese refugees and that we begin an awareness and fundraising campaign for World Refugee Day in June 2022.

And the RCA Global Mission South Sudan Refugee Care Project was born.

this story of connection piques your interest and you’d like to join us in providing compassionate, Christ-like care for the people of South Sudan, I’ll leave you with three action steps:

  1.  Pray. Pray for peace in South Sudan (and Sudan). Pray for safety and healing for the citizens of South Sudan, especially those who have been forcibly displaced from their homes and are living in refugee camps. Pray for healing of the land, and a cessation of drought, famine, and floods. Pray for Derrick Jones, the Smith-Mather Family, and RECONCILE International.
  2.  Give. Can you help us raise the $7,000 we need to reach our fundraising goal? Contact me at jjtenclay@rca.org if you’d like to make a donation or host a fundraising event BEFORE June 1, 2024. You can also give here.
  3.  Host a Meal for Peace for South Sudan. Can you invite a group of people into your home, or organize a meal at your church and center the meal on South Sudan, the people, the culture, the food, and the hopes for peace and reconciliation? Even if you can’t host an event before June 1, RCA Global Mission will continue our commitment to mission in South Sudan…a commitment that began 75 years ago and is still going strong!

Connecting in faith, hope, peace, and love,

JJ TenClay,

Missionary & refugee ministries coordinator

RCA Global Mission