The opening of three churches in Rhino Camp Refugee Settlement in Arua district in 2018 was yet another landmark in PAG’s work among South Sudanese communities displaced by civil war in their country. Till then, PAG was involved in shelter; water and sanitation; supplementary feeding; as well as mental health and psychosocial programmes with the refugees.
The first was Tika PAG Church in Tika Zone, Village 4, Block A which opened in July 2018 under a temporary shelter with about 80 adults. The next was the PAG Life Celebration Centre which conducted its first Sunday service on 27/07/2018 that was attended by 21 adults in the of ce block PAG constructed inside the Yoro Base Camp.
Then came PAG Omugo in Omugo 6 Zone which started with about 20 adults in August 2018. It is in the midst of the Nuer tribe that moved from Tika Zone. It was inevitable that PAG which had integrated counselling and praying into some of its programmes, goes into a full- edged church ministry among the refugees. The Tika PAG Church stands a few metres away from where four Nuer men were murdered by the Dinka as the rivalry between the two tribes- that originated from their country, spiraled out of control in the settlement in June 2018. The incident prompted PAG to launch a three day crusade which paved way for the opening of the Tika church.
There were several other factors necessitating spiritual intervention at church level. “During the coordination meetings of the humanitarian agencies in Rhino Camp, police reports on sexual violence, drug abuse, alcoholism, divorce, suicide and con ict between the refugees and host communities were disturbing,” says Simon Ekadu, a PAG eld worker in Rhino Camp.
Other humanitarian agencies were looking at PAG, since it’s a church, to take charge of the moral and spiritual intervention alongside the mental health and psychosocial support it is offering to refugees in the seven villages of Ofua 1, Ofua 2, Ofua 4, Ofua 5, Tika 4, Omugo 6 and Yoro Base Camp.
The Tika PAG Church runs programmes including youth fellowship, bible study, evening prayer, Sunday school and Sunday service led by either the refugees themselves or PAG pastors and eld staff. The PAG Life Celebration Centre which brings together humanitarian workers and government employees in Yoro Base Camp as well as locals and refugees nearby, conducts Sunday service, fellowship and bible study.
The new churches are creating impact in the lives of the communities they serve. “Many people give testimonies for example the sick are restored and the hopeless get hope. We no longer live in fear of violence between the Nuer and Dinka,” says 30 year-old Charles Chol the pastor of Tika PAG Church. People’s lifestyle is changing for the better.
“PAG was our rescue. In the whole of Yoro Base Camp, the PAG Life Celebration Centre is the only fellowship place,” says Hellen Ojangole, a staff of the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and one of the founder members of the church.