September 30, 2011
“God is calling our church to do miracles.
South Sudan is nothing but a series of miracles going on.”
-Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr., 2010 Holston Annual Conference.
In the summer of 2010, Steve and Diantha Hodges of the Holston Conference announced that they would become Individual Volunteers in Southern Sudan. Since 1987, they have been traveling the world serving as volunteers in South Korea, North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee and now, South Sudan. Diantha works to improve village health-especially the health of pregnant women and new babies, focusing on sanitation, clean water and literacy. Steve works in developing sustainable agriculture and micro-enterprise.
On June 23, 2011, Rev. Fred and Libby Dearing also departed to South Sudan from the Holston Conference to serve. Fred is serving as District Superintendent and Libby is advocating for the effort to build a United Methodist children’s home in Yei.
Saturday, July 9, 2011, the world watched as the Republic of South Sudan officially gained their independence: a series of miracles coming to fruition. Fred, Libby, Steve and Diantha were able to sit in the bleachers in Yei’s Freedom Square to celebrate with not only Christian denominations, but also local Muslims. This unification lead Diantha to write, “I hope and pray the peaceful, joyful spirit of those co-existing celebrations on Independence Day can be continued permanently into the complex process of becoming one nation of many tribes working together.” Libby wrote, “By the end of the day we were exhausted but so thrilled to have been a part of a truly historic event. It has made us appreciate the founding of our nation and realize what our ancestors went through to give us the freedom we enjoy today.”
United Methodist Volunteers in Mission teams have been traveling and are continuing to travel to South Sudan to serve with the Dearings and the Hodges. If you are interested in leading a team, please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a link to Steve and Diantha Hodges’ blog.
If you would like to give to their mission, please give to Advance #982465 and under “Special Designation,” choose their name.
Click here to go to UMVIM, SEJ’s YouTube page to view videos that UMVIM, SEJ’s Executive Director, Paulette West shot while recently in South Sudan. The first seven videos are all from South Sudan.