AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN – ‘Father, we want a brick church’: the millennial dreams of a believing and suffering people have come true

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Naandi – “When I arrived in South Sudan, the Naandi mission in which I am located, near the border of South Sudan with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, had only a single brick church, totally in ruins and vandalized by the Islamic hordes. All the others were made exclusively of grass and tree branches”, writes Father Christopher Hartley Sartorius to Agenzia Fides. “The first thing people asked me was: “Father we want a brick church, without a church we are like animals”, a parishioner told me. From that moment on, the various communities have committed themselves to making bricks with their own hands, as well as donating the land on which to build the new house of Jesus. Brick by brick, the millennial dreams of a believing and suffering people have come true”, said the missionary who arrived in Naandi in 2019 . The two churches of Andari and Baragu in the Naandi mission, which are almost completed, are huge and can accommodate nearly 700 faithful. According to Father Christopher, these buildings are at the center of the lives of these people, they represent an oath, they testify to the loyalty of the Church to her city. “Christ is there, the Church is there, the bishop and his pastor are there, and they do not leave, no matter what. I cannot explain in words the emotion of people when they entered the church for the first time”. Despite the fact that the rainy season has started in the country and it rains on the faithful almost every Sunday, everyone present still wants to celebrate in the new church. “There are still many details missing to complete the work, the windows have not yet arrived from Kampala, the pews in the church do not exist and we have to make them ourselves. In addition, we print the sacred images in Spain on a strong material so that they can be hung with a frame made by us from local wood”. “The faithful in these villages had spent a lifetime waiting for a church, the only thing they wanted. They didn’t care about the condition of their huts or whether the water was more or less far away or if they had to walk miles and miles to their orchards. They wanted their church”, he concludes.