(By Ellen Leahy, Auburnpub.com) This is a story of one church and two villages working together to change the world. It’s the Skaneateles First Presbyterian Church in the village of Skaneateles, New York, and the village of Duk Payuel, in Duk County, Jonglei State, South Sudan.
These “sister villages” came together 10 years ago to provide health services and famine relief as well as to raise awareness of the plight of the Sudanese people, who have been and are currently engaged in war.
The sisterhood between the two villages evolved when the First Presbyterian Church [Presbyterian Church (USA)] welcomed several of the so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan refugees into their congregation — Andrew Chol, Jacob Majok, Santino Ajak and John Dau. The church helped in their resettlement in Syracuse and served as a spiritual home.
“We’ve sponsored refugees since World War II,” Lindsey said.
Prior the helping the Lost Boys, all of these individuals had been from middle-class families and had some idea of how the West operated. But the South Sudanese were tribal people who had never seen modern conveniences, systems or structures.
Lindsay passed a clipboard around the congregation one Sunday and asked who might want to sign up to give a day to these young men. It would involve going to pick them up in Syracuse, to bring them to church in Skaneateles, perhaps some socializing with family, help on errands and then back home again. He said everyone got involved and soon the late Ann Nichols rose to the top as their adopted grandmother and Jack Howard (now in his 90s) became their grandfather, while Lindsay was simply known as “Pastor.”