ENS: Fleeing from genocide to South Sudan

By Robin Denney | October 8, 2012 |


 Yida, the largest refugee camp in South Sudan, stretches for miles. It is home to more than 64,000 of the 206,000 refugees from the Republic of Sudan who have fled the bombing and violent attacks against civilians by the Khartoum government since June 2011.Yida camp itself was bombed Nov. 10, 2011, killing 12 refugees.

Only 20 kilometers from the volatile border between Sudan and South Sudan, Yida camp sees a constant stream of nearly 200 new refugees a day, coming from the Nuba Mountains region (South Kordofan State) in Sudan. Rebel groups in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states have united against the Khartoum government’s army, Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), whichindiscriminately attacks rebels and civilians in those areas.

“They kill everybody, Christians and Muslims. They burn houses, churches, and schools. They kill people. They drop bombs. Just two days ago soldiers came to my area [in the Nuba Mountains] and killed one person and burned houses,” said the Rev. Ameka Yousif, a pastor who has lived in Yida camp since February. “[In the Nuba Mountains] when people see the planes, they run and hide. Bombing is happening almost every day.”

Yida Refugee Camp from the air. Photo/Robin Denney

Children gather at an Episcopal Church of Sudan church in Yida Refugee Camp. Photo/Robin Denney

Yida camp continues to grow, as attacks on the Nuba Mountains by the SAF haveincreased in intensity during the past month. The U.N. expects as many as 90,000 people to occupy the camp by the end of the year.

In January 2011, a referendum was held in which citizens of what was then southern Sudan decided overwhelmingly to secede from the north and become an independent nation. Six months later on July 9, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan was born. The referendum was specified in a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) — signed in 2005 between the north’s Khartoum-based Government of Sudan and the south’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement — that ended a decades-long civil war that killed more than 2 million people and displaced an estimated 7 million more.

Although conditions on the ground have improved in much of South Sudan since the referendum, fighting along the border, especially in disputed areas, has intensified.

From some villages in the Nuba Mountains, entire communities have moved to Yida, Yousif explained. “But some people refuse to leave, they say ‘this is my place, I will die here.’”

Four thousand members of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan’s Diocese of Kadugli now reside in Yida camp. They have four churches organized in different parts of the camp, and seven priests. The ECS churches are made up of many tribes worshiping together. They support one another in prayer, and help the most vulnerable among them, especially the widows and orphans.

“The church is growing, I baptized 40 new believers last month,” said the Rev. Ali Haroun, head pastor for ECS in Yida. When asked why people were flocking to the church in this desperate place, Haroun said, “They see how we care for one another.”

Conditions in the camp are desperate. In July, the daily mortality rate was three deaths per 10,000 children under five, and one death per 10,000 adults. In August, the rate reduced to one death per 10,000 children per day, still at the emergency threshold, according to U.N. data.

“The food ration, four tins of sorghum per person per month, it is not enough,” said Yousif. “People trade some of their sorghum for salt and soap, and then their ration finishes before the month. Grinding is also expensive, so many people are just chewing the grains.”

There are several medical stations in Yida where people can receive care, but the lines are long.

“Sometimes people can stand all day and be told to come back the next day. The next day can be too late for them,” said Kukuri Mathias, a nurse and ECS member.

The free health clinic run by the Episcopal Church of the Sudan at the Yida Refugee Camp. Photo/Robin Denney

There are seven certified nurses and six nurse assistants who are ECS members in Yida. In response to the desperate need for medical care, they run a free clinic. They set up a simple grass structure with two beds where they can admit people. With donations from the refugees, they sent someone traveling for three days by foot through flooded territory to reach Pariang, the nearest town to Yida, to buy medicine. These medicines have now finished.

The Sudanese Development and Relief Agency (SUDRA), with assistance from Episcopal Relief & Development and Hope International, is seeking to get more support to the refugees in Yida. Some medicines from SUDRA are currently in transit to Yida. Episcopal Relief & Development will soon send additional support for SUDRA’s work there. But more is needed.

Because Yida is classified as a transitory camp, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR does not provide assistance for agriculture or education. Desperate for more food, the refugees in Yida have planted around their homes seeds they brought with them from the Nuba Mountains, but the tools available to them are few and far between. Desperate for education, refugees have organized community schools, with volunteer teachers. Most of the teachers have not been trained, and supplies are so few that more than a hundred people cram around a small blackboard. These make-shift schools service only a small fraction of those who desire education.

A community-organized school provides education at Yida Refugee Camp. Photo/Robin Denney

“My first priority is education, and second is agriculture,” Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail, bishop of Kadugli diocese, which includes Nuba Mountains, reported after his recent visit to Yida camp. Most people from the Diocese of Kadugli have been displaced either into the camp or into the mountains.

The cathedral and diocesan buildings in the Kadugli diocese were burned by government forces more than a year ago. They also sought to kill the bishop, but he was traveling at the time for medical treatment in the U.S. While there, he testifiedbefore the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, saying, “If I were not here today to testify before you, I do not know whether I would be in a mass grave in Kadugli now.”

The civil war in Sudan reaches beyond the Nuba Mountains, including Darfur, and Blue Nile state as well. Approximately 655,000 Sudanese have been displaced from Blue Nile and South Kordofan States.

Former U.N. Coordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, said that the current conflict in South Kordofan is even worse than the famous Darfur genocide which began in 2003. Video evidencefound by the rebels and released by Al Jazeera shows government soldiers being instructed to leave no one alive. Evidence of mass graves has also been gathered by the Enough Project. Because U.N. and humanitarian organizations have been banned from the area by the Khartoum government, there are not solid numbers regarding casualties, many thousands have died. But it is clear that urgent action is needed from the international community to curtail the violence and ensure humanitarian assistance.

– Robin Denney from the Diocese of El Camino Real was an Episcopal Church missionary in Sudan from 2009-2011 and served as an agriculture consultant to the Episcopal Church of Sudan. She recently returned to South Sudan to visit some of the church’s agriculture projects and the Yida Refugee Camp.

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God’s ‘enough’ is always enough

Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29

To paraphrase a former president in a presidential debate, “There they go again.”

Those Israelites.

Carping and complaining, moaning and groaning.

“If only we had meat to eat!”

“We remember … Egypt.”

“Our strength is dried up …”

“There is nothing … but this manna to look at.”

Here the Israelites are, multiple years into their journey in the wilderness, and they are fed up to their gills with manna – you know, bread from heaven manna? – and what do they want? What do they really want after all these years of eating the bread of heaven?

They want meat.

Oh, they can talk about the veggies and the fruit they used to eat in Egypt – I’m telling you, their doctors were probably really pleased, because they wanted a balanced diet, good for their hearts, but, no, what they really wanted was Capital M-Capital E.-Capital A.-Capital T-MEAT. Because they were tired of eating manna.

It’s not like the Israelites didn’t have enough to eat – they did.

They had the manna from heaven – the bread that God sent, in just the right amount. Every single morning, God sent them just the right amount of manna. And they didn’t want it anymore. Now I want you to know, in case no one has told you, manna actually is real. Manna is a real substance that you can find, to this day in the Sinai, if you are out in the remote areas, where the Israelites once sojourned. Manna is not what most people think it is. A lot of people think of manna and they think it is those little communion wafers that you get in church on Sunday mornings. Uh-uh-uh, that’s not manna. Manna is … um … plant lice excretion,[1] also known as bug poop.

That’s what the Israelites are complaining about this morning. They are tired of bug poop. It’s not that they are tired of having bug poop every day. What they are tired of is only having bug poop every day.

And frankly, let’s be honest, if had to eat bug poop every day, wouldn’t you be tired of it? After all, there are only so many ways you can fix bug poop. You can boil it. You can bake it. You can toast it. That’s it. There’s nothing else you can do with it. And if you don’t do that pretty quick, it goes rotten anyway.

So, we’re not exactly talking about gourmet meals that the Israelites had had all those years wandering in the wilderness.

It was nutritious.

But it was not gourmet.

The Israelites were not complaining about not having enough. Because they had enough.

And it wasn’t simply that they wanted more – more food, more variety.

They were complaining because they thought that they deserved more. They thought that they had been faithful long enough, wandering around in the wilderness, scooping up bug poop every single morning, and eating it morning, noon and night. They thought that they were special. And because they were special, they should have something more.

Sinai from space, via NASA

The problem is, these people had forgotten, in all those years of roaming the wilderness, of being fed day and night by God on high, of being led day and night by God on high, they forgot that they were special not because they had been so faithful for so long, but because they were created in God’s very image. God chose to create them in God’s very image, the image of love – because, my friends, we are not necessary to God, so God must have wanted us, God must have desired us, God must have loved us into being – and the image of community, the community that comes from when God said, “Let us create humankind in our image.”

The Israelites had forgotten that they were created in that image, the image of love and community, and in God’s version of love and community, it’s never about what you deserve. In God’s version of love and community, it’s not about what you have earned by your faithfulness.

In God’s version of love and community, it is always about what God gives you.

And what God gives you is always enough.


• • •

I have to tell you, when I read this passage about the Israelites carping and complaining about how hard their lives were because they were tired of eating bug poop every day, I think back and remember my friends, my “families,” in Kenya and in Honduras, in Sudan and in Haiti, and I think to myself, “Man, I know a whole slew of people who would give anything to have what you people  had. I know a slew of people who would love to have … enough.

I mean, come on.

The Israelites are getting a guaranteed meal delivered to their doorstep every single morning, and they are kvetching about this?

They have enough, and they want more?

When I read this passage, I remember the days when I lived in Kenya, and the rains didn’t come and they didn’t come, and our crops dried up and died almost as soon as we put them into the ground, and we had so little to eat … so little … and our children went hungry and their bellies distended, and their hair turned red because they were malnourished, because we were literally eating the leaves off the trees …

I remember walking through the market looking for anything – anything – that I could possibly eat, and over here, there would be this little pile of scraggly little onions (and they were scraggly), and over here there would be this little pile of scraggly little tomatoes – barely an excuse for a tomato – and then I would see these piles of weird greens that I had never seen before and that I had no idea how to cook …

I remember asking the mamas, “What are those greens?” and having them laugh at me, because there I was, the white woman who was the Peace Corps fundi wa maji, the water engineer, who brought them water when possible, and I had no idea what I was looking at …

And I remember them telling me, “Those are leaves from the trees, mama.” And how, when I asked, “Which trees?” the women laughed even more and said, “If we told you that, you wouldn’t have to buy them from us!”

And I remember asking them to teach me to cook those scraggly leaves with those scraggly onions and those scraggly excuses for tomatoes, and how much we all rejoiced when finally, some rain arrived, and we could once again grow some of our crops.

When I think of the way the Israelites moaned and groaned because they didn’t think they could stand one more bite of God’s bread from heaven, I remember what it was like in Honduras, where we ate rice and beans, beans and rice, rice and beans, beans and rice, rice and beans, beans and rice, morning, noon and night … because we didn’t have anything else …

I remember what it was like in Sudan, a country that has been at war for most of the last sixty years, where food shortages were common, and death stalks the land on a constant basis, and nearly weeping to discover that war had once again brought death to our doorsteps, depriving us of fish and tomatoes and vegetables, because war means death, and death means bodies in the Nile River, and bodies in the Nile River upstream from us meant cholera downstream where we lived … so we couldn’t eat anything that had come into contact with river water … and all we had left were onions and lentils, and lentils and onions, and onions … and onions …


I remember more rice and beans, beans and rice in Haiti, where the poor subsist on less than a dollar a day – if they are lucky – and where oftentimes, there were more beans than rice, because the rice industry has been destroyed in that country by politics and hurricanes and earthquakes … and where to stave off hunger, we would buy pieces of sugar cane, so that we could gnaw on it, so that t

I remember what it is like to be hungry every single day … to not have enough …he sugar would abate our hunger, but it did nothing for our nutrition, and our children there were just as malnourished, with their bellies just as distended, and their hair turning just as red as they did in Kenya.

So you know what I think, when I read about the Israelites demanding more, demanding M-E-A-T-all-capital-letters-MEAT?

I think: You have enough! Quit complaining!

• • •

The sad thing is – and we do not like to admit this – we all are like the Israelites at some point in our lives.

We have enough – enough food, enough medicine, enough opportunity – and at first we think, “Thank you, Lord.”

But then …

Then …

We start complaining.

Because after a while, enough is not enough.

After a while, we want more …

After a while, we stop trying to keep up with the Joneses and we start trying to surpass the Joneses, and the next thing you know, we have more than enough, and the Joneses?

Well, the Joneses are out of luck.

This is what our society teaches us right now – you know this. Look at the advertising you see. Advertising that says, “Buy more, more, more, more!” And, “If you buy this, your life will be fulfilled!” Until the next version comes out. Adversiting tells us we simply cannot live if we do not have the latest version of whatever the newest thing is, if we do not wear the newest styles, if we do not drive the newest cars.

And right now, for some strange reason, society is telling us, in every way possible, that it is perfectly okay to say, “I’ve got mine, and I don’t care if you ever get yours!”

But that attitude of us against them? That attitude that demands more, more, more? That attitude that leaves others in the dust?

That is not God’s plan for us, my friends.

That is not how God looks at us. That is not why God created us.

Because in God’s very good creation, there is no such thing as “us’s” and “thems.” All of us – each of us and all of us – are beloved children of God.

God’s plan is that each of us – every single one of us beloved children of God – has, quite simply, enough.

Not too little.

Not too much.

Simply …


Because in God’s very good creation, the one in which we who were created in God’s very image live, God’s plan, God’s dream, is that each one of us has enough.

Our call, as faithful people of God, is to make God’s plan, God’s dream for God’s beloved creation, come to fruition.

It is on us to do what God wants done.

Now, the moral of the story for those carping, complaining, moaning, groaning Israelites is that God basically replied, “More?!? You want more?!?! I’ll give you more! I’ll give so much more that you will literally choke on the meat that I will send you, and you will die from it!!!”

Which is what happened. If you keep reading in Numbers, remember, this is what happened.

These carping, complaining, moaning, groaning, there-they-go-again, stiff-necked people, they got what they asked for, and you should always be careful about asking, because you might just get what you asked for.

It’s not a pleasant ending to this story. But it does get across God’s basic message to us, who, I pray, are not carping, complaining, moaning, groaning, there-they-go-again, stiff-necked people.

Hopefully, we actually hear God’s message, and hopefully, we actually live God’s message, which is this:

In God’s eyes, enough truly is enough.


Sermon preached on the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 21, at Immanuel Episcopal Church, Glencoe, Md., on 30 September 2012.

[1] From Barbara Brown Taylor’s Bread of Angels, Cowley Publications, 1997.


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Who and whose are you?

Matthew 4:1-11: A bilingual sermon for the First Sunday in Lent

Whenever I read of Jesus’ temptation in the desert, of Ha Satan, the Adversary, tempting Jesus with food, with great spectacle, with power, daring Jesus to become someone he is not,[1] I think of TV commercials.

Siempre que leo de la tentación de Jesús en el desierto, de Ha Satanás, el Adversario, tentando a Jesús con los alimentos, con gran espectáculo, con el poder, atreverse Jesús a convertirse en alguien que no es – pienso en comerciales de televisión.

The Temptation of Christ, Ary Scheffer, 1854

I’ve never liked most ads on TV. The ones that are trying to sell me something? They drive me nuts.

Nunca me ha gustado la mayoría de los anuncios en la televisión. Los que están tratando de venderme algo? Me vuelven lo.

“What?” I think to myself, “do these people think I’m stupid? Do they really think I’m going to fall for their tricks?”

“¿Qué?” Creo que a mí mismo “¿Estas personas piensan que soy estúpido? ¿Realmente crees que voy a caer en sus trampas?”

You know the commercials I’m talking about, right? The ones assuring me that if I buy their products, I’ll be richer, more popular, thinner, sexier, “in”?

Ustedes saben los anuncios que estoy hablando, ¿verdad? Los asegurándome que si puedo comprar sus productos, voy a ser más rico, más popular, más delgada, más sexy, “en”?

So I reject their advances. I turn off the sound. I refuse to be drawn in by an advertisement that promises more than it can deliver, that tries to divert me from the fact that not only do I not need that which they are selling, not only do I not want that which they are offering, I do not believe them.

Por lo tanto, rechazar sus avances. Puedo desactivar el sonido. Me niego a ser atraídos por un anuncio que promete más de lo que puede dar, que intenta distraerme del hecho de que no sólo no hace falta que los que están vendiendo, no sólo que no quiero que los que están ofreciendo, yo no les creo.

Because I know that most advertisers are not telling the truth. They are bending the truth, trying to make me believe that if I buy what they’re offering, I’ll be someone I am not.

Porque yo sé que la mayoría de los anunciantes no dicen la verdad. Se trata de doblar la verdad, tratando de hacerme creer que si yo compro lo que están ofreciendo, voy a ser alguien que yo no soy.

To me, most advertisers rank right up there with Ha Satan, the Adversary who tried to dare Jesus to be someone he is not.

Para mí, la mayoría de los anunciantes en el mismo escalafón con Ha Satanás, el Adversario que trató de Jesús se atreve a ser alguien que no lo es.

Because I know that driving the fastest, biggest, most expensive car in town won’t make me a better person.

Porque yo sé que la conducción más rápida, más grande, más caro coche de la ciudad no me hará una mejor persona.

So what if my hair has turned grey? I don’t need to color it to be me.

¿Y qué si mi pelo se ha vuelto gris? Yo no necesito el color a ser yo.

And frankly, I like the laugh lines around my eyes and mouth – they say something important about me.

Y francamente, me gusta la líneas de expresión alrededor de los ojos y la boca – se dice algo importante acerca de mí.

I do not believe the advertisers because I know who I am – I am Lauren, a beloved child of God.

More importantly, I know whose I am – I belong to God.

No creo que los anunciantes porque yo sé quién soy – Soy Lauren, una hija amada de Dios.

Más importante aún, yo sé cuya soy – Yo pertenezco a Dios.

So my answer to all those Tempters out there?

Away with you, Satan!

Así que mi respuesta a todos los tentadores por ahí?

Vete, Satanás!

Jesus didn’t have to face television advertising in the days when he walked the earth. But he did have to face Ha Satan, the Adversary who tried to tempt him into becoming someone he was not.

Jesús no tenía para hacer frente a la publicidad televisiva en los días en que estuvo en la tierra. Pero sí tienen que hacer frente Ha Satanás, el Adversario que trató de tentarlo para convertirse en alguien que no lo era.

Satan tried to tempt Christ, James Tissot, 1895


Immediately following his baptism in the River Jordan, immediately after hearing God confirm who he was (the Son of God) and whose he was (God’s beloved, in whom God was well-pleased),[2] Jesus went out into the desert. That’s what people did in those days, when they wanted to get closer to God. They turned heir backs on the hurly-burly of their lives and spent some time alone, doing their best to come face to face with God.

Inmediatamente después de su bautismo en el río Jordán, inmediatamente después de escuchar a Dios confirmar quién era él (el Hijo de Dios) y que cuya (de Dios amado, en quien Dios estaba muy complacido), Jesús se fue al desierto. Eso es lo que hizo en aquellos días, cuando quiso acercarse a Dios. Se volvieron la espalda heredero en el bullicio de su vida y pasó algún tiempo a solas, haciendo todo lo posible para encontrarse cara a cara con Dios.

After 40 days and 40 nights all alone with God, when Jesus was at his weakest, the Tempter, Ha Satan, showed up.

Después de 40 días y 40 noches a solas con Dios, cuando Jesús estaba en su más débil, el Tentador, Ha Satanás, se presentó.

And what did he do?

He didn’t just tempt Jesus.

He called Jesus’ very identity into question!

¿Y qué hizo?

Lo hizo no sólo tentar a Jesús.

Llamó identidad de Jesús en tela de juicio!

If you are the Son of God[3] turn stones into bread, so that you may eat.

If you are the Son of God[4]throw yourself down and let the angels catch you.

If you will fall down and worship me[5] I will give you power and dominion over the whole world.

Si eres el Hijo de Dios … las piedras se convierten en pan, de modo que usted puede comer.

Si eres el Hijo de Dios … lanzarte hacia abajo y dejar que los ángeles te atrapen.

Si se va a caer y me adoras … yo te daré poder y dominio sobre todo el mundo.

Silly Satan.

Satanás loco.

Did he really think he could get Jesus to give up his very being, just for a little bread, a little thrill ride, a little power?

¿Realmente cree que podría conseguir a Jesús a renunciar a su propio ser, sólo por un poco de pan, un paseo de emoción poco, un poco de poder?

Denying Satan, Carl Bloch, 1850

Jesus’ answer to the Tempter – Away with you, Satan! – is the original model for the “Just Say No” campaign, the campaign to which all of us are called in this holy season of Lent.

La respuesta de Jesús al Tentador – Vete, Satanás! – es el modelo original de la “simplemente decir que no” de campaña, la campaña a la que todos estamos llamados en este tiempo santo de Cuaresma.

Yes, my friends, it is the season of Lent, the 40 days and 40 nights in which we are called to Just Say No to the things that tempt us away from God. This is the time of year when we as Christians are specifically called to do as Jesus did, to turn our backs on the hurly-burly of our lives so that we can focus – really and truly focus – on who we are and whose we are.

Sí, mis amigos, es la temporada de Cuaresma, los 40 días y 40 noches en la que estamos llamados a decir “no” a las cosas que nos tientan lejos de Dios. Esta es la época del año cuando nosotros como Cristianos están especialmente llamados a hacer como lo hizo Jesús, a su vez en la espalda en el bullicio de nuestras vidas para que podamos centrarnos – real y enfoque realmente – en lo que somos y que nos pertenecen.

Now I know that Lent is not a popular season. It is not, as commentator David Lose says, something we look forward to, like Christmas. (Who asks, he points out, how many days there are until Lent?)[6]

Ahora yo sé que la Cuaresma no es un tiempo popular. No es, como dice el comentarista David Lose, algo que esperamos, como la Navidad. (¿Quién pregunta, señala, ¿cuántos días hay hasta la Cuaresma?)

Indeed, Professor Lose believes that because Lent is not popular, it is in trouble.[7]

De hecho, el profesor cree que perder porque la Cuaresma no es popular, Cuaresma tiene problemas.

It is in trouble, he says, because “it feels like this strange, weirdly anachronistic holiday that celebrates things we don’t value and encourages attitudes we don’t share.”[8]

Tiene problemas, dice, porque “se siente como esta fiesta extraña, extrañamente anacrónico que celebra las cosas que no valoramos y alienta actitudes que no comparto.”

But Lent doesn’t have to be in trouble.

Because Lent is really God’s gift to us.

Pero la Cuaresma no necesita tiene problemas.

Debido a que la Cuaresma es realmente un regalo de Dios para nosotros.

It is a gift because it gives us the time to think again, to know again, that we are beloved children of God, that we belong, from before time began until the ages of ages, to God.

Es un regalo porque nos da tiempo a pensar de nuevo, para saber más, de que somos hijos amados de Dios, que nos pertenecen, desde antes de los siglos hasta que siglos de los siglos, a Dios.

Lent is our time to say “no”… “no” to all the things that get in the way of knowing God’s love, that get in the way of our delighting in God’s will and walking in God’s ways.

La Cuaresma es nuestro tiempo para decir “no” … “no” a todas las cosas que se interponen en el camino de conocer el amor de Dios, que se interponen en el camino de nuestro deleite en la voluntad de Dios y caminar en los caminos de Dios.

Lent is our time to reject that which tries to redefine us, to reject the false advertising of our lives – the advertising from outside us that says, Just do this and you will be … famous, rich, happy, thinner, sexier, “in.”

La Cuaresma es nuestro tiempo para rechazar lo que nos trata de redefinir, de rechazar la falsa publicidad de nuestras vidas – la publicidad de fuera de nosotros que dice: Haz esto y serás … famoso, rico, feliz, más delgado, más sexy, “en.”

It is our time to reject those things that challenge our very identity, that draw us away from identifying ourselves first and foremost with and by God.

Es nuestra hora de rechazar las cosas que desafían nuestra propia identidad, que nos alejan de la identificación de nosotros mismos, ante todo, con y por Dios.

• • •

When I was in Sudan, in an area dominated by one tribe but populated by 15 other tribes, I frequently was asked, because tribal identification is still so very important in that war-torn country, “What tribe do you come from?”

Usually, my questioners wanted me to identify with their tribes, with the Dinka or Nuer, with the Shilluk or the Moro.

Cuando estaba en el Sudán, en una zona dominada por una tribu, pero poblada por 15 tribus otros, con frecuencia se le pidió, porque la identificación tribal es todavía tan importante en ese país devastado por la guerra, “¿De qué tribu vienes?”

Por lo general, mis interrogadores querían que se identifican con sus tribus, con los Dinka o los Nuer, con los Shilluk o los Moro

But I had friends in each of those tribes, and I refused to identify with just one of them.

Pero yo tenía amigos en cada una de esas tribus, y se negó a identificarse con uno de ellos.

It took me a while – a couple of years, actually – but one day, confronted yet again by an aggressive questioner, I heard myself answer:
“I belong to the tribe of God.”

Me tomó un tiempo – un par de años, en realidad – pero un día, se enfrentó una vez más por una pregunta agresiva, me oí responder:

“Yo pertenezco a la tribu de Dios.”

In truth, that tribe – God’s tribe – is the only tribe that counts. And we all belong to it.

En verdad, esa tribu – tribu de Dios – es la única tribu que cuenta. Y que todos pertenecemos a la misma.

The color of our skin? Our country of origin? Who our parents are? The language we speak? The clothes we wear? The jobs we have (or don’t have)? The world may think these things matter, but they do not.

They … do … not … matter.

El color de nuestra piel? Nuestro país de origen? Quiénes son nuestros padres? El idioma que hablamos? La ropa que usamos? Los puestos de trabajo que tienen (o no tienen)? El mundo puede pensar que estas cosas son importantes, pero no lo hacen.

Ellos … no … estan … importa.

The only thing that matters is that we belong to God’s tribe, the tribe of beloved children, created in God’s image, loved from before time until the ages of ages.

Lo único que importa es que pertenecemos a la tribu de Dios, la tribu de los hijos amados, creado a imagen de Dios, amado desde antes de los siglos …  hasta que las edades de las edades.

This holy season of Lent?

It is our time to discover anew our membership in that tribe.

Este tiempo santo de Cuaresma?

Es nuestro tiempo para descubrir de nuevo nuestra pertenencia a esa tribu.

We are not defined by what we own.

We are not defined by what we wear … or what we eat … or how powerful we are in this life.

We are defined only by this:

We are God’s beloved children.

Wordle art of this sermon, courtesy of wordle.net.

And we belong to God.

No están definidas por lo que tenemos.

No se define por lo que usamos … o lo que comemos … o lo poderoso que estamos en esta vida.

Nos están definidas por sólo por esto:

Somos hijos amados de Dios.

Y nosotros pertenecemos a Dios.

If we want to enjoy this gift that is Lent, we will have to be strong. We will have to turn our backs on the temptations that lead us astray from this tribe. We will have to reject the false advertising that says we can be something we are not. We will have to renounce those things that rear up their ugly heads and keep us from seeing God, and seeing ourselves in God.

Si queremos disfrutar de este regalo que es la Cuaresma, vamos a tener que ser fuerte. Tendremos que dar la espalda a las tentaciones que nos llevan por mal camino de esta tribu. Vamos a tener que rechazar la falsa publicidad que dice que puede ser algo que no lo son. Vamos a tener que renunciar a esas cosas que se alzan sus cabezas feas y nos impiden ver a Dios, y vernos a nosotros mismos en Dios.

This is our time. Our time to be with God. Our time to revel in God’s closeness. Our time to open ourselves up – completely and intimately – to the God who created us in love, the one who loves us now, the one who will love us forever.

Este es nuestro tiempo. Nuestro tiempo para estar con Dios. Nuestro tiempo para deleitarse con la cercanía de Dios. Nuestra tiempo de abrirnos – completo e íntimamente – al Dios que nos creó en el amor, el que nos ama ahora, el que nos va a amar para siempre

The next time someone tries to tempt you away from God? Tries to convince you that you are not popular enough, thin enough, sexy enough, “in” enough? Tries to sell you a faster car, a cooler phone? Tries to tell you that you are not eating in the right restaurants or working in the right offices?

Do what Jesus did:

Renounce them! Tell them to go away!

La próxima vez que alguien trata de tentarlo lejos de Dios? Trata de convencerlo de que no son lo suficiente popular, lo suficiente delgada, lo suficiente sexy, lo suficiente “en”? Trata de venderle un coche más rápido, un teléfono más fresco? Trata de decirle que usted no está comiendo en los restaurantes de derecha o de trabajo en las oficinas de derecho?

Hacer lo que hizo Jesús:

Renunciar a ellos! Dile que se vayan!

Because those people? They are not telling the truth. They are Tempters. Adversaries. They stand against God.

Debido a esas personas? Ellos no están diciendo la verdad. Ellos son tentadores. Adversarios. Ellos están en contra de Dios.

Instead, listen to God, who says to you:

You are my beloved. I created you because I love you.

Closeup of the Creation of Man, Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo

And you belong to me … from before time began … until the ages of ages.

En cambio, escuchar a Dios, que te dice:

Tú eres mi amado. Te he creado, porque Te amo.

Y tú me perteneces … de antes de los siglos … hasta que las edades de las edades.

You belong to me.

Tú me perteneces.


Bilingual sermon preached on the First Sunday in Lent, 13 March 2011, Year A, at St. Paul’s, Bailey’s Crossroads, Falls Church, Va.

[1] Professor David Lose, Marbury E. Anderson Biblical Preaching Chair Luther Seminary, “Into Temptation,” via WorkingPreacher.org, posted 7 March 2011, http://www.workingpreacher.org/dear_wp.aspx?article_id=462

[2] Ibid.

[3] Lose, “Into Temptation.”

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Professor David Lose, “The Trouble (and Blessings) of Lent,” on The Huffington Post, 7 March 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-lose/why-lent_b_830968.html?ref=fb&src=sp#sb=1522119,b=facebook.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.


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