Juba, South Sudan
Shipping containers here in Juba don’t just hold transported goods, they’re also used as homes and offices. Even some entire hotel complexes are constructed of the large steel boxes.
In a few months, the Seventh-day Adventist Church plans to launch a radio ministry from a beige container recently installed on the compound of its local field office. The ministry, in development since 2006 at the prompting of a pastor, is meant to connect with a community where traditional outreach isn’t possible, church leaders say.
“We are committed to share the word of God with people in this community,” said Alumai Dominic, a lay member and chair of the committee overseeing the project. “This message isn’t [otherwise] reaching the people outside of Juba. We’ll be able to reach other communities.”
Years ago, the committee requested a radio frequency from the government and was pleasantly surprised to receive four. They named their flagship frequency 94.0 Salvation FM.
The ministry plans to offer programs about the gospel, health, family and youth issues. Programs will be broadcast in local languages, including Bari, Juba Arabic, Dinka, Muro, Shiluk and Zende.
The project is one of several that the church here is planning for future development and ministry.
Development is the theme here in South Sudan, the world’s newest country, where newly gained independence could lead to much needed growth of infrastructure and industry. Poverty is widespread and most residents outside of cities are illiterate.
The former southern region of Sudan became a separate nation a little over a year ago following a referendum that authorized secession. For decades, the south and the north fought civil wars over development funds and representation in government in the northern capital of Khartoum. A peace agreement in 2005 set up a 2011 vote on southern independence, which passed by 98 percent.
South Sudan is a rapidly growing country, with foreign workers arriving daily. Many locals are optimistic about the country’s future under independent rule. Patrons in city restaurants strike up conversations with visitors and tell of their enthusiasm.
“Before we didn’t have many chances, but now we are free. We have money, we can open businesses,” said Peter Guzulu, while dining one recent evening. He said he lived in the United States for 10 years and returned to work for an NGO.