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Goanar Chol

Goanar Chol

Sudanese Ministries Resource Person

c/o Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church

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    1050 24th St.
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    Des Moines
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Wednesday, February 12 2014

South Sudan is the ceasefire working?

   February 4, 2014. South Sudan is the ceasefire working? Did the two parties really reached an agreement on a ceasefire? Dear friends of the South Sudanese and Sudan, The events starting in December 15 in Juba the Capitol of the young nation horrified most people who have been praying for peace for many years. The current situation is more than anyone can bear even after the ceasefire. The ceasefire was announced but violated immediately as if the South Sudanese warring parties were saying one thing to the international Community but doing exactly the opposite of that, which would be considered hypocritical to say the least. What happened in Malakal in the last few days including what I learned yesterday 2/3/2014 was very much horrible.

   The friend I spoke to said that in Malakal, the capitol of Upper Nile State a city I worked in for about 11 as my base, from where I would go out from time and time, and work in some areas, the Government soldiers go from house to house and ask if they were Nuer. If they said yes they were paraded and shot so the friends told the Nuer (Nuaar) families not to say they were Nuer - (Nuaar). The sister of the friend I spoke to said that they were called out and paraded and asked but all denied and were told to return to their house and as the soldiers left they met a Nuaar (Nuer) young man and ran after him firing and he fell in front of their house and when the soldiers arrived they found him bleeding but still alive. They then broke his legs and hands and picked him up and threw him while still alive in the Nile River. The same person confirmed the death of Presbyterian Pastor Rev. Daniel Giel Pal who was killed in broad daylight. Daniel was in his clerical uniform including his white collar. They said he was going to the United Nations Compound where many have gone for safety. He was shot and killed with his bible in his hand. This was the second Presbyterian Pastor to be killed after Rev. Simon Nyang Lam was killed in Juba shortly after the December 15.

   I did not realize the reasons why Presbyterian Pastors are targeted until this morning when I learned that the former Vice president Dr. Riek Machar is a Presbyterian and worshipped in the Presbyterian Church in Juba. In fact when I went for the Jonglei Peace initiative – for which the Presbytery of Des Moines sponsored my trip – we sat next to each other in the Church. But it did not occur to me that Pastors would be targeted.

   I just want to let you know that my brother’s wife Nyapal Gatdet (Mrs. David K. Chol is missing in Malakal and my house where she lived was burned -- whether intentionally or not is something I cannot conclude it is surely the Government of President Salva Kiir that burned it after they took the city. Many people are still in UN Compound. The four of my brothers girls where about are also not known. There are Rumors that the two of them are in Kakuma Camp in Kenya and the other two in Uganda. I hope this is true.

   Please continue to pray for this situation. God bless you Rev. Goanar Chol.
Last week was a very difficult week because we have had so many reports of many of our members who lost a relative.

Last Friday, Nyakuoth lost her dad in Malakal.  Nyakuoth just returned from Nashville, Tennessee and stays in our home until she can go back to work in Ames.  She returned back on Thursday when she heard the sad news on Friday Morning.  

Her Father was a soldier for a long time and was working with the government of South Sudan as prison warden with the rank of First Lieutenant Colonel.  What we learned is that he committed suicide and this may be the result of PTSD. Many soldiers struggle with this whenever they return from war.

Please keep praying for the family because they are scattered and we had to reach the sister yesterday in Tennessee. We were worried that she may harm herself but hopefully, she is able to cope with the sad news.  

God bless you.
Wednesday, January 30 2013

Sudanese Immigrant Problems

From Rev. Goanar Chol...

The Sudanese are happy in Des Moines and have been worshipping as an interdenominational group which is something unique in this city.

Recently, some of the young Sudanese who were brought as children have faced issues with immigration for things that are minor violations to the law. They should know better.

They speak English very well but are deceived by staying with the majority kids who do not have immigration issues.

One kid who was found trying to feed on his dead mom during the war in South Sudan has been in deep problems because of such minor violations. This landed him in jail. He was almost expelled to South Sudan, the country he does not know. His documents, including is driver’s license, were taken from him and he was mistaken for an illegal immigrant.

He reported to me recently that the documents were destroyed and his defense lawyer abandoned him. He was asked to reapply but he has no picture identification.

He cannot claim even his lost Social Security card even though he has the copy. 

The question is how could we help him now? Batul and I took him in since he is virtually homeless now. I am trying to raise awareness of this with some good hearted members of any congregation. The Presbytery of Des Moines churches can do something about this. There are a number of these people who need our help.
Thursday, January 17 2013

Christmas 2012

In the two days of Christmas, 24th, and 25th, Sudanese celebrated Christmas in a new and exciting way.

Children had to show the Nativity and with the child Jesus. I call this child African Jesus because it was their biggest decision to be a black child. This was very close to them and they were really eager to participate. 

Children who requested to be Angels cried if they did not get it and they delayed to practice on time. But it eventually went well even though many did not have time to practice.

The performance went quickly and their teachers Batul and Esther said they may do it better next year. 

The parents were pleased to see their kids take part in this important celebration of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and their hope for the eternal life. Christmas lasts up to the tenth day in the Sudan and this year, despite some difficulties I was told that it was going on to the first week of January.

Rev. Goanar Chol  

Dear members of the Presbytery of Des Moines,

Thank everyone very much for your prayers.

I am excited to report that most of the prayers were answered on April 23, 2012, when I got a call from the Rev. Ross Blount, pastor of the United Presbyterian Church in Allerton. He called to say that the church’s committee met and agreed to help sponsor both of us, James Manyibol and myself, with tickets to attend the Peace Conference in Jonglei state in the new Republic of South Sudan. This is a fragile nation that became independent from north Sudan in July 2011. North Sudan is still threatening and currently there is fear of all-out war between the two nations.

Khartoum government encourages some ethnic groups to fight each other so that they can prove to the world that the people of the South Sudan cannot govern themselves and the only option is to come under Khartoum authorities like before.

I want to thank the Allerton church for sponsoring this peace meeting which I have confirmed now from General Presbyter Rev. Phil Barrett. The two tickets are not fully covered and some other financial support is needed. Your church or mission committee can contact the Presbytery if you would like to be an answer to our prayers.

It would be really an answer to our prayers that James Manyibol, a young Murle student who would like to go and convince his community that fighting and revenge are not a solution to the problem between his community and mind (Nuer).

It is also the same message I am going to send to my community to stop any kind of revenge against the Murle. The message we both will send is our going together to let both our communities understand that even though they are considering each other as enemies, James Manyibol a Murle, and I, a Nuer can go together and eat together as we did in Washington, D.C.

This is really the important message we are called upon by God to bring to our communities and I shed tears when Ross informed me that their small church in Allerton can do this which really shows small churches can do big things.

Please help cover the rest of the amount for our travel because there is need still for vaccinations, and even food and shelter there.

Please participate to save lives since Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s relief cannot support the communities affected by the current violence. Donations can be sent to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 2400 86th St., Ste. 20, Urbandale, IA 50322-4306. Make checks payable to the Presbytery Des Moines and write ‘Sudan Peace Trip’ in the memo line.

Allerton United Presbyterian Church mentioned that they may contribute about $4,000. We do not know yet what the cost of the air ticket is – our estimate is $2,400 to $2,500 each.

On behalf of the people of South Sudan who are desperate and who die of war and ethnic fighting, I say a big “Thank You!” to members of the Allerton United Presbyterian Church.

God bless you,

~ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sudanese Resources Person, Presbytery of Des Moines

Update of the situation...

The Jonglei peace initiative was intended to be of utmost importance and absolutely urgent.

Unfortunately, we were not able to take the needed action since we first appealed. This is due to lack of funds and so many people have died since then.  First the attack on Akobo East that killed 302 with 200 wounded was in March. Those who died in the hospitals are not even counted. 

The government then went to Lou Nuer area and fired at innocent pepple killing a man, a woman and a child.  These are my people who were disarmed more than three times and are now disarmed while the Murle keep their arms though the government said it is disarming them. After the Nyirol County community members gave their arms to the government of South Sudan, the Murle came killing three peple and took 3,000 head of cattle.

The Republic of South Sudan now is not able to protect my community, therefore, prayers are needed.  Please read the following appeal that was intended for our churches and sent to Rev. Ross Blount pastor for First Presbyterian Church in Allerton

Peace Initiative for Jonglei State, South Sudan

March 15, 2012
Des Moines, Iowa

Dear friends,
This letter is really like an appeal and is just a short explanation of what we will hope to accomplish or achieve if we go to South Sudan. Four members of my peace initiative will be travelling, if we can. As a chair person, I would like to travel as soon as April 25, 2012.

There was a meeting held in Washington, D.C., January 21-22, 2012. The meeting was held by the Jonglei Peace initiative (JPI) a body organized here in the US, for Jonglei State in South Sudan. This was welcomed and was founded as the 193rd nation by the United Nations (UN). Jonglei is about the size of Iowa and is the largest state in the new country and it has only 11 Counties.

Before that meeting, the Lou Nuer community pastors in U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe held a phone conference in which I was elected as chairman for peace in Jonglei for the purpose of bringing the two communities of Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic group pastors to discuss how peace can be achieved. The attacks and counter attacks by both sides prompted this peace initiative.

The Washington, D.C. meeting then reaffirmed the elected position for me to be the overall spiritual dhairman for the whole of peace initiative in Jonglei State from the diaspora groups for all the six ethnic groups: Nuer, Murle, Dingka, Anyuak, Kachipo and Jie. In the meeting it was decided that JPI will have three fronts: youth, community and the spiritual groups to tackle peace.

This document came as a result of my discussion with my friend, Rev. Ross Blount, today (3/16/12), who wanted to know what it would take to get there and encouraged me to write this request.

The purpose is, therefore, to bring peace to whole Jonglei region, the largest state in the Republic of South Sudan. Jonglei is inhabited by those six ethnic groups. What we hope to achieve is a comprehensive peace in the state and the rest of South Sudan. Jonglei was the one that started the war in 1983 and may be the last to have peace, it seems. But the accomplishment of peace in this region will have significant impact in the whole country and may be replicated later. But I must say that this state started the war as far back as 1975 when there was mutiny in Akobo. That came shortly after the 17-year war that ended in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where I was a student in high school in 1972. At that time, it would not take time before the fully blown war began in May 16, 1983, in what is now Bor City, the current capital of the state.

Let me explain how we view this peace initiative.

I take this personally, as my uncle and ten members of his family were murdered by the Murle in August 2011, killing 800 people – mainly women and children. This was followed by a retaliatory attack by the Lou youth in Pibor, the main town in the Murles area in January, killing 150 people – mostly women and children. Just last week the Murles attacked Akobo County and killed 1,000 and 1,500 people - mostly women and children.

The reason why I want to be involved is because I feel I have something to offer for the peace initiative. Forgiveness is my motive for any of those Murles who killed my Uncle Bangot Dhuon, his wife and 10 members of his family. There would be no peace without forgiveness and someone must offer this. No outsider can offer that, no matter how skillful that person may be in negotiations and no money can stop the anger of people. We want to work hard to stop revengeful people from controlling the situation. That is why it is crucial to take my word seriously. I can convince a Murle that even though he has killed my people, I am here to end this vicious circle. He will have no reason to doubt. And in the same way, I can convince my own people, who will want revenge and will try to say I am a coward and not able get revenge.It makes more sense that I am the one to convince my people and not the government leaders, most of which did not lose anyone. This is a unique position and God might want me to be here at this time. I do not want to let the time pass by while watching innocent ones being victimized on both sides.

How would we do this? That is going to be our next question. Though it has been mentioned that it is important to have local people involved in the peacemaking, we have to remember that many people have already been involved but no one yet challenged the fighters in a peaceful manner. The government disarmed them by force before and even if you hear that they do the same now, this did not work in the past. Therefore peace is the long-term solution. We now appreciate the government's positive attitude in a peaceful disarmament like it has been done successfully elsewhere, as in West Africa.

Some of the churches and government leaders involved, will remember much money was spent by individuals and organizations who are genuine in their efforts. But, I have to say that some organizations did not really involve the local people or the key people (youth fighters) who could have done a better job in stopping the killings.

We will join their efforts so that we will not regret later that we did not try our best. The peace we speak about is both short and long term. This is an important component of this not to be missed in the planning process. I have community development training gained in Canada in 1986. We should be sure the community claim this as their own, not as something coming from elsewhere which may generate wrong and high expectations.  

We will support any peace initiative already existing such as RECONCILE, one of the nonprofit organizations initiated by some of the Presbyterian Church missionaries. This was very good and they say they train people there and I know this to be true. They also have taken Murle women and sent them to the Akobo Lou Nuer area and vice versa. This was working as long as their youth did not start hostilities. This was not implemented by the local people, but a project intended to reduce trauma after the war. It cannot stop any war among the young people who raid cattle as a means of their living.

Women also never initiated any wars in the region so the absence of men in the project was one of its weaknesses. The peace initiative has to be implemented by indigenous people to succeed and youth need to be part of it. They need to be persuaded by people like us who do not want revenge for our dead relatives.

This is urgently needed given the recent hostilities between the Lou Nuer and Murle which indicated that something else needs to be done in a different method. The definition of insanity is “doing one thing over and over, but achieving the same results.” I think it was Albert Einstein who said this.

We should go and work together with them and get the key community leaders involved to stop the killings so children can be sent to school and without any worries of cattle raids. Remember that we called the Lou youth back from the Murle area and they listened to us. In the same way if we go they will listen to us.

When I spoke with Ross, I mentioned to him that we wanted to send a team of four people on our side and we also have a Murle who is from Tennessee. James is his name and he may go with us and we can get other Murle community members in Juba, South Sudan.

One ticket is between $2,600-3,800 according to our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . She states that there is only $1,600 collected so far. That would not be enough for pocket money for the three people in Juba because Juba is a very expensive city.

We need the youth to be helped to engage in doing something useful and grow into responsible leaders, if we successful.

Please remember, Jesus said (Matthew 5:8-9), “Happy are the pure in heart; They will see God! Happy are those who work for peace, God will call them his children!” (Good News Bible).

Please support this wholeheartedly and be part of it, so that you will to be able to come and visit my area in the future. I thank God for your prayers and efforts.

God blessings be with you.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ,
Sudanese Ministries Resource Person,
Presbytery of Des Moines   

This is just a short note regarding situation of Sudanese children who are suffering affected by theo long war in South Suda.

The kinds like this may not be able to change the situation they were born in and are growing up in without school.  

After six years may kids like these are without education which is very sad.  How would they get help and who can offer it?  The questions can be answered by the international community leaders who are sympathetic to this horible situation.

The Church cannot change the political/economic conditions that exist in South Sudan.  We hope there will be action by the international community soon specially as the referrundom approaches in 2011.

This may force the People of the South to resort to war if their rights are erroded by the Khartoum Government that lives in lies and sheating.

It is my prayer that things will be peaceful during the referrundom.

~ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ,
Sudanese Ministries Resource Person,
Des Moines Presbytery

Tuesday, December 28 2010

Season of Prayer for Sudan

Prayers are always in order for the people of Sudan. Prayers are particularly needed as January 9, 2011 draws near. A referendum on self-determination for the people of South Sudan is scheduled on that day. And a referendum is also scheduled for the Abyei region of Sudan where the people will vote on the question of whether to retain Abyei’s special administrative status in the north or become part of Southern Sudan. Our sisters and brothers in Sudan are in prayer now and will continue in prayer until, through, and after the referendum which carries with it the threat of violence and even renewed outbreak of civil war.

This season of prayer is open to all people. Pray wherever you are; pray individually or gather with your community or an ecumenical community or an interfaith community; pray in a manner you feel comfortable praying. Find prayers to use or adapt. The prayers are created in partnership by the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, the Presbyterian World Mission Office on Africa, the Sudan Advocacy Action Forum, and the Sudan Mission Network.

Pray too for Presbyterian mission co-workers in Sudan: Debbie Blane, Jacob and Aliamma George, Nancy McGaughey, and Ingrid Reneau.

~ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ,
Sudanese Ministries Resource Person,
Presbytery of Des Moines

Dear friends, you may be aware that God has answered your prayer in the case of South Sudan with the longest story of war with the North. Many of you continued praying, or contributed money and any kind of support to bring that horrific war to an end or to a lasting peaceful resolution.

I am glad to let you know that God Almighty has answered your prayers by granting South Sudan independence. It is true that unceasing prayers are needed for the Sudan in general and South Sudan in particular. As a new nation is born, South Sudan will be accepted in the world community as the 153rd independent nation on July 9, 2011.

The people of South Sudan cannot contain their excitement. First of all, I would like to convey the gratitude of the people of South Sudan who have been supported by the Government, the people of the United States and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in particular and other faith groups.

Brothers and sisters you know we requested you to pray for us when we voted Jan. 9th, and you know that we voted in eight cities in the United States and many countries outside the Sudan and in the Sudan. The results came out showing about 98% of the people opted for secession.

The results pleased all of us and we are planning a celebration Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 at Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1050 24th St., in Des Moines. Our brothers and sisters are invited to attend. Also, we will conduct community dances March 12th in a place to be appointed at a later time.

God bless you all,

~ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ,
Sudanese Ministries Resource Person
Des Moines Presbytery

Thanksgiving to God, celebrations and a continued excitement dominated the first quarter of this year and is still overwhelming the people of South Sudan. I hope many of our congregations in the Des Moines Presbytery will read this good news.

On Jan. 9, 2011, South Sudan overwhelmingly voted for independence after two devastating wars that had killed, maimed and destroyed families and lively-hoods of millions of people. It is estimated that 4.2 million Sudanese died in these two wars between 1955 to 1972 and 1983 to 2005.

The wars started when I was about 4 years old, therefore I was actually one of the ‘lost boys’ who was never known as I call our group the ‘unknown’ lost boys. The vote in that referendum was 98.7 %.

In 2005, what became known as CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) was signed in Kenya and this agreement stipulated a referendum for the South Sudan to make a choice between a united Sudan or secession. The people of the South were the only ones that could vote. I never dreamed that I would be part of the voters for the independent South Sudan, but with God’s will, I exercised my right to vote on January 9 as part of the State of Diaspora.

On February 19, at the Polk County Convention Complex, Sudanese from around Iowa’s capital city, celebrated the voting results, creating a new fourth nation on the African continent. In the video here, both the United States and the South Sudan flags are present during the community prayer by the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , pastor at Cottage Grove Avenue Presbyterian Church in Des Moines.

The chairman and main organizer of the event, Dr. Henry Lejukole, spoke to the assembly among other speakers.

The celebration moved many people and highlighted many of our country’s ethnic dances as seen in this video of the Mabaan tribal dance.

I shed tears when six people representing the SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) showed up in uniform carrying the flag of the new nation along side the United States flag: the main super power that pressured the Khartoum Government to sign the CPA. Through the prayers of many of my friends, God has finally said, ‘Kids, here is what you have been praying for...’ and my eyes have seen this!

I am now praying to be present on July 9th, 2011, at the declaration of South Sudan’s independence in Juba, capital of the New Republic of South Sudan. God bless you for your prayers and may God’s blessings continue as you offer prayers for this new nation.
~ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ,
Sudanese Ministries Resource Person,
Des Moines Presbytery
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