Graham, Frist Hear Unsettling News in South Sudan

Globe-trotting evangelist Franklin Graham and former Senate majority leader Bill Frist visited southern Sudan this week to meet with leaders and provide aid to the region where Graham has vowed to rebuild hundreds of burnt churches.

Graham, who has long been vocal about his support of southern Sudan, and Frist met with southern Sudanese president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, and leaders of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Juba on Wednesday. Southern Sudan’s population mainly consists of Christians and animists.

During their meeting, SPLM leaders reported to the American team that the Arab and Muslim Khartoum government has violated the Comprehensive Peace Agreement – the pact ending the nation’s 21-year war. The Khartoum government is accused of backing militias to carry out genocide on the country’s African population in the south.

Kiir, however, acknowledged that extremists on both sides, including his own, were to blame for the slow progress towards peace.

“We are all convinced that going back to war will not be the solution,” the Southern Sudan president said, according to The Washington Post.

During the meeting, Franklin Graham spoke about his hope for long-lasting peace in Sudan and his vision to rebuild over the next several years the 500 churches destroyed by the government and its militias, according to Frist’s web diary.

Graham, who heads the Christian humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse, also said he hopes to expand the group’s presence in Juba.

Samaritan’s Purse has provided aid and relief to southern Sudan for a decade.

The son of famed evangelist Billy Graham also reportedly said to one of the SPLM leaders that God had not abandoned the people of southern Sudan.

Frist, who is a heart surgeon by trade, has traveled with Graham to Sudan on many occasions, performing surgeries for Samaritan’s Purse medical mission. The former Tennessee senator usually is accompanied by one of his sons, but was together with his wife Karyn on this trip.

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