|Field Report from Equatoria, South Sudan|
Through Sickness and Health
We are drawing near to the end of our very effective time of ministry in South Sudan. We have been pushing on through sickness and fatigue and have seen many faces beaming with appreciation for the valuable training and vital materials received. This is more than enough reward and motivation to keep pushing on.
More than half of our team has been weakened by sickness. Two of our team members, Daniel and Hunter have had malaria and I have been down with a bad case of flu. Fortunately, we were able to diagnose and treat both cases of malaria before it got out of hand. The men have recovered well and continued to minister and carry out their responsibilities despite the discomfort of illness.
Our Field Director, John, returned from South Africa after burying his father, just in time to give vital assistance to our team with his 'fresh legs'. The day I picked him up at the airport in Juba is the day we all went down with some fevers and illnesses. Praise God for his timing!
Kotobi Institute for Teacher Training
We were able to have a weekend Biblical Worldview Seminar and an Evangelism Training Workshop at Kotobi Institute for Teacher Education (KITE) which was attended by more than 70 teachers including some members of the community. This was a vital opportunity to train and equip these teachers who are going to have such an important influence on the future of this country. Some of the topics which we were able to cover included: Vision and Unity, Why is a Biblical Worldview Necessary?, The Lordship of Christ in All Areas of Life, The Ten Commandments, Africa's Greatest Need - Discipleship, and The Way of the Master. We had a worship service on Sunday as part of our program. During the times of Q&A there were many questions asked and it was our joy and privilege to be able to offer them some answers for their burning questions.
The screening of the film Sudan: The Hidden Holocaust, was undoubtedly a great encouragement to many of the folk here. Many of the people in the film were recognized by some of the teachers, many of whom had even experienced in real life some of the scenes that they witnessed in the film. I heard one man say as he watched:“That is where I lost my uncle!” and another man said “That is the conflict that destroyed our village!”
Textbooks for Teachers
We were able to distribute many valuable books and resources into the hands of the teachers. Some of the books that we were able to distribute included: Faith Under Fire in Sudan, Slavery Terrorism and Islam, Discipleship Handbook, Practical Discipleship, Biblical Principles for Africa, Putting Feet to Your Faith, and The Doctor Comes to Lui, amongst other vital materials.
Bahr Olo Leadership Training
We also had the opportunity to minister among the Avokaya people of the Bahr Olo Diocese, which is a sub-Diocese of Maridi. Some pastors and church leaders travelled more than 20 miles by foot or bicycle to attend the training. The furthest parish of this Diocese is 48 miles from the cathedral where we held the training. We had a very fruitful time of ministry and were able to distribute many valuable books and resources to the pastors and church leaders who attended the workshop.
Libraries for Pastors
Some of the books we were able to distribute included: Faith Under Fire in Sudan, Discipleship Handbook, Practical Discipleship, Biblical Principles for Africa, The Greatest Century of Reformation, Slavery Terrorism and Islam, The Doctor Comes to Lui, Putting Feet to Your Faith and One Heartbeat Away.
The Evangelism Coordinator of this Diocese expressed a desperate need for Evangelism Training for the Diocese. They were very grateful for our coming and wished that we could stay longer and have more training. They look forward to our Mission’s return early next year.
The road to Yambio is most beautiful at this time of year; the lush rain forests are busting with multiple shades of bright green. We overnighted next to a stream amongst the vines and bushes of the lush vegetation of a rain forest setting up our tents just before sunset. We enjoyed a tranquil evening in the operational area ‘back yard’ of the LRA rebels.
We had an opportunity to meet some of the church leaders of the Yambio Diocese and discuss their challenges and seek for opportunities of how we can help them in the future. There is a deep desire for Evangelism and Discipleship training. We were able to donate books for the Bishop Jeremiah College students and for the community library.
We were also told of the fact that LRA rebels still continue to terrorize the people of Yambio especially those who live close to the border. Please pray for the safety of the Christians in this area specifically now that the rains are coming to an end and the activity of the LRA rebels increases.
The Diocese of Maridi arranged a Let your Light Shine Conference for the weekend and we had some good opportunities to minister to about 2,000 who had gathered for the conference. Some of the topics that we were able to cover included: Salt and Light, Hearing and Doing, The Way of the Master, Vision and Unity, and The Greatness of the Great Commission. We were also able to show the Sudan: The Hidden Holocaust and Jesus film on the three nights we were there.
We were able to meet with the bishop and some of the church leaders at the cathedral in Yei and we were also able to leave the Diocese with some valuable literature for their church leaders.
On our return, about 120km before reaching Kampala in Uganda, the vehicle’s rear right wheel bearing perished, bringing our rig to a grinding halt on the side of the road. There was no way that we could continue without replacing the damaged bearing. It was just after midday. After assessing the situation and removing the damaged parts, John and I set off for Kampala to see if we could get some spares. We had to take the entire wheel hub and drive shaft with us because it needed some professional engineering to repair the damage and have the bearing replaced.
So with our day packs on our backs and the driveshaft on my lap, we set off to the nearest village on a ‘bola-bola’ (a small motorcycle) – both John and I on the same ‘bola-bola’ and the driver – three of us on one small motorcycle!
Ordeal by Taxi
From the village we got into a crammed mini-bus taxi which was licensed to carry 14 passengers but was packed like a tin of sardines with 20 people. This treacherous taxi ride took us about 2 excruciating hours before we arrived in Kampala.
Chaotic Traffic in Kampala
Once we were in Kampala, we needed to get to the Toyota dealer in order to get the repairs done to the wheel shaft, and this entailed another treacherous, hair-raising ride on a ‘bola-bola’ through the chaotic traffic of the streets of Kampala. At least we each were on a separate ‘bola-bola’, but this was no consolation in the busy, bustling, unorganized, chaos of vehicles weaving in and out of gaps in the traffic.
Repairs and Spares
Having finally arrived at Toyota, we were able to arrange for the necessary spares and repairs, but it would only be ready the following morning. We therefore had to overnight in Kampala before being able to return on a similar hair-raising trip back to our injured vehicle on the side of the road on the outskirts of town where we had left it.
Further Mechanical Breakdown
After putting all the pieces back together, we were able to continue our journey towards Kampala. As we arrived in Kampala in the evening, we heard a grinding noise coming from underneath the vehicle and upon inspection we found the universal joint of the prop-shaft in disrepair. This would need to be replaced, but at least we were able to ‘limp’ to our overnight destination.
Answers to Prayer
In South Sudan we presented more than 140 lectures, sermons, meetings, outreaches and devotions. We travelled more than 1,500 km within South Sudan on unpaved, gravel, bumpy roads. We screened films on 25 different occasions. These included: the Jesus film, Sudan: The Hidden Holocaust, The Biggest Question, True and False Conversions, More than Dreams, The Way of the Master and Hell’s Best Kept Secret.
We worked with 7 different Diocese and had good opportunities to discuss challenges and needs and future opportunities for ministry in these areas.
We donated selected books to the shelves of 8 community libraries and enriched the personal libraries of more than 220 pastors, leaders, teachers, and community leaders.
Thank you for all your support and prayers. It is your support and prayers that have made our ministry in South Sudan possible. May God richly reward you for helping us serve this recovering war-torn country.
Yours in His service