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Zumbro Lutheran members gathered to support building a school in South Sudan

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -

With civil war raging in South Sudan, many have escaped to our area for refuge.

But now, some are returning, to bring change and better the land they left behind.

The Zumbro Lutheran Church has joined its Dinka members to bring a church and a school to the region.

Kamen Makuer, the church's Dinka Lay Evangelist, has been in the US for 17 years.

After returning home last year and seeing the state of affairs, with no schools and child soldiers, he wants to make a difference.

"That is my vision, I have to replace AK-47s with pencils and notebooks," Makuer said.

With the help of the congregation at Zumbro Lutheran, he hopes to make it happen.

"The community members are American citizens and they want the same things for their families back home that they've found here," Jason Bryan-Wegner, the pastor, said.

This was a day for people to learn about the issues in South Sudan, hear Makuer's mission and see what they can do to help, all while experiencing some South Sudanese culture, through food.

They wrote letters to congress people, packed some bags for the future students and spread awareness through social media.

But Makuer says the most important part is people know what's happening, and he wants to make sure the South Sudanese aren't forgotten.

"It will bring to them hope and dreams," Makuer said."The [South Sudanese] community will know that their sons and daughters who are in diaspora, in America, have not forgotten them. They still come back to them and try to help in as many ways as possible."

If you would like to help the cause, leaders at Zumbro Lutheran say they will have a continued campaign for donations and support.

Now, this is not the church's first project in South Sudan.

In November they will be opening a Lutheran church in the capital city of Juba that will provide a clinic, learning center and worship space.

Wednesday, there were some making a banner welcoming people to that new church.
 

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