ARCHBISHOP BERNARD IN CZR

Home / Updates / ARCHBISHOP BERNARD IN CZR

In May 2018 Archbishop Bernard and his wife Suza made a long-planned and anticipated visit to the Czech Republic. What was the visit like?

Brother Bernard and his wife were in the Czech Republic from May 3rd to May 29th. The flight arrival and departure were both in Vienna. They traveled via Ethiopia's Addis Ababa and the South Sudanese capital, Juba. The journey to CZR including waiting periods took three weeks, but the return journey to their home in Torit lasted three days. All costs of the trip were covered by the Association for South Sudan.

The schedule was rich. They traveled through the "Bohemian" parts of Czechia visiting Prague, Liberec (with a trip to Herrnhut), Česká Lípa, Vysoké Mýto, Litomyšl, Česká Třebová and Dlouhý in Vysočina.

 

In Moravia and Silesia they visited Ostrava, Brno, Olomouc, Bruntál, Frýdlant n. O., Český Těšín and Jablunkov. Our dear guests had the opportunity to meet with pastors and church leaders who support the project most strongly here in the Czech Republic. First they visited a pastoral conference of the Church of Brethren in Litomyšl, where they thanked the Diaconia of the Church of Brethren, which was involved in gathering money for food aid. At the pastoral conference of the Christian Fellowships in Vysočina, Brother Bernard ministered a sermon during the evening program.

 

In Brno we were hosted by the Catholic Order of Merciful Brothers, which granted Bernard with the award of Celestýn Opitz, an award for exemplary Christian care for the sick and needy in the area of health and social services. In Ostrava, our special guests were received by the Deputy Mayor of the City of Ostrava, Mr. Pražák, with whom we had the opportunity to discuss possible future cooperation.

Every Sunday, Bernard preached in a church. He encouraged Christians to grow spiritually according to 2P 1:5-8. He often showed a video Jericho, City of Praise, in which God is praised by a severely disabled young man from South Sudan. "If this boy without limbs can praise God and defeat the devil, why can't we?," Bishop Bernard asked the audience. Mama Suzy prayed often at the end of the services, sometimes singing spiritual songs. Her faith is an encouragement to all who meet her.

Preparations for recording with TV Noe

Br. Bernard had the opportunity to speak onTV Noe, Proglas Radio and Trans World Radio (it is yet to be aired, meanwhile an interview with the vice-president of the association, Vít Šmajstrla, is available). We will gradually make available all recordings on our new website.

In seminars and presentations, Brother Bernard had a different message for Czech Christians than in the past years, when he spoke mainly about the history of South Sudan and the prolonged conflict with the Muslim North. This time he spoke mainly of the current famine. Desperate people from Torit and the surrounding villages come to church seeking safety and food. The fact that thanks to the help of Czech Christians the local church was able to respond was, according to Bernard, very significant. The food aid saved many lives and was of fundamental moral importance. In particular, the first transport of sixteen tons of flour brought the desperate people not only some food, but also the feeling that they were not forgotten and that God heard their prayers.

So far four transports have been brought to Torit: twice a truckload of maize flour (16 and 19 tons), one container of nutritious risottos (225 000 portions) from the Feed the Hungry, and a month ago a container of food from the American organization Parakletos ministries, with which we have also established cooperation. The need continues to be enormous, the amount of food per family was not sufficient and did not reach all of them. Bernard's response to the complaint that food is not enough is said to be: "Eat not as much as you would like, but eat enough to survive." Let us therefore persist in collecting funds to buy and transport food! Brother Bernard showed many photos from food distribution in both Torit and the villages. He emphasized the need for careful organization and registration in cooperation with church communities and local chiefs. Food was distributed to more than twenty villages. Priority was given to orphans, widows, old people, the disabled and children.

Br. bishop didn't comment on the political situation. Apparently he was worried - Torit is under the control of government troops, but many other places are under the control of rebels, and any suspicion of cooperating with them is very dangerous. We will continue food aid to the Church in Torit.

There are two more containers on the way from partner organization Feed the Hungry. The more food we can send this year, the better. We all hope that next year the security situation will improve and local people will be able to go out into the fields and start cultivating the land and harvesting crops again, which this year was often not possible at all because of fears of armed rebels and the overall chaos that dominates outside the villages. Bernard keeps reminding that once agriculture resumes, food aid must stop so that people do not become dependent on it.

Support for schools and orphanages

In a meeting with Daniel Skokan (the Czech leader of the “Feed the Hungry” project), a schedule of food aid was arranged for the church school in Torit. Every child who comes to class gets a hot meal through the program. The number of children at school grows, it was 150 just a few months ago, now it’s over 600, largely due to the certainty that children at school will be fed.

Bernard and we agreed to financially support the teachers at this school. They have not received salaries from the state in almost a year, and many have emigrated. Local teachers are willing to work for $10 a month.

There are now 28 orphans at the church orphanage in Torit. Another six who are already attending high school are housed in families to whom the church contributes to cover their living costs. Three are cared for by Mama Suzy, Bernard's wife. Two children have started college. We agreed to cover the cost of studying for all the children from the orphanage for one year (uniforms $7, textbooks $12, school fees for orphans in church school are not paid, otherwise there is $10 a year, for high school it’s $20 and for college $600 a year). Students from at the grammar school in Frýdlant, Beskydy Mountains Academy, have expressed an interest in exchanging letters with the orphans. If only orphans could have a good future, or find "adoptive" supporters for them in the Czech Republic.

Development of the work in Ofirika, support for the bishop's team

The visitors were leaving with 30 kg of medicine in their suitcase for the Ofirika health centre, where health care and mission work is progressing well. We have agreed to support key coworkers for the next six months - Bernard, his assistant and accountant in Torit, nurses and a missionary in Ofirika, a few helpers in the villages. I have written above about supporting teachers and children from the orphanage.

Torit is safe for now (controlled by government troops), but it’s not possible to leave the city - there is a risk of ambush already several kilometers past the border, so it is impossible to go to work in the fields or even to pick fruit or hunt. The journey from Torit to Ofirika is dangerous, but possible when taking the risk. One of the teachers we knew was ambushed and killed on this journey.

If possible, we would like to resume teaching for the church workers in South Sudan and working on starting Bible school. When meeting Miloš Poborský, the director of the Evangelical Theological Seminary (ETS) in Prague, we discussed the possibility of cooperation (e.g. in the form of distance teaching). We have contributed to Bernard's restoration of a quality satellite internet connection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

en_GBEnglish (UK)