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2023 – Recap

Happy new year! Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but I feel like this year just flew by. Time is running and so it is easy to overlook what actually happened. I want to give you a brief summary of what God has done in my life last year.




Chosen to Go

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. John 15:16 NLT

We did not choose God, He chose us. It’s a very comforting truth to me. God chose me–a broken and sinful man–with my gifts and inabilities. And He appointed me to GO and PRODUCE lasting fruit. That is what God called me to do (and not just me … all of us who believe in Jesus). We are supposed to go and produce fruit. We should not keep our faith to ourselves, but go and share the hope that we have with everyone. That is why God chose you. That is the reason why He made Himself known to you. So that you go and share it with everyone. What does that look like for you in 2024? Where will you go? Who are your people? How are you going to share it?



Christmas and New Year

It’s never easy to be far away from family and friends, but it seems to be even harder at Christmas. Nonetheless, we had some really good days celebrating the birth of our Savior, the Messiah, the Christ. In Lopit, people go from home to home, eat lots of food (especially meat) and sit, relax and talk. And so we went too and got to celebrate with our local believers. It was a really good time! We also had a day to celebrate as a team and I got to call my family and friends back home. On New Year’s Eve, we all walked over to another village where some good German friends lives. We had a really lovely time celebrating New Year together with all our different cultures: Oliebollen, cheesecake and Kinderpunsch.




23 Highs and Lows



1. A retired soldier had tears in his eyes as he shared his life story with me. I got to share the hope of Jesus with him and pray for him. (January, Torit)





2. I was sick most of January. I experienced the love of Christ through the local church: friends came over and prayed for me, called me and asked how I was. (January, Torit)




3. I got to preach in Juba Arabic for the first time. This was a milestone for me in many ways. (March, Torit)




4. We had an amazing vision trip to another people group (Laarim). I got to learn a lot about myself, God, ministry and South Sudan. My highlight: to stay with a local family for 3 days. (March, Laarim)




5. On Easter morning, I organized a sunrise prayer. I like the symbol of the rising sun to visualize the resurrection of Christ (from darkness to light). Many came and many neighbors watched. (April, Torit)




6. I got to visit my girlfriend in Tanzania and see a different part of Africa. (April, Tanzania)




7. Over time I learned more and more mechanic skills, fixing motorbikes and cars. I even got to fix one bike myself. (May, Torit)




8. Our youth group wanted to go out and evangelize. It was so encouraging to go with them from house to house and hear them share the Good News. (June, Torit)




9. I helped my friend to plant ground nuts. It was hard work, but lots of fun. Unfortunately the rains were not sufficient and we could not harvest anything. (June, Lopit)




10. My church wanted to send me out as their missionary to Lopit. What a symbol: an African church sends out a white missionary. (July, Torit)




11. We got engaged! After a great time together in Germany, I asked her THE question. And she said YES!! We are thankful that this time of waiting will be over soon. (July, Germany)




12. Together with a colleague I got to do different maintenance jobs. I learned a lot and we had a great time! (August, Lopit, Laarim)




13. I finally moved to Lopit. It was exciting and overwhelming, so much fun and very hard. (September, Lopit)




14. I carried an injured person to the hospital with my bike. The road was rough, but having arrived there, I was invited to lunch by a Kenyan shop owner. (September, Lopit)




15. My sister came to visit. After a great vacation in Kenya, she got to see and taste the place I live in South Sudan. (October, Kenya, South Sudan)




16. Rain! This year has been incredibly dry. People were suffering. But finally, God provided good rains and saved most of the harvest. (October, Lopit)




17. We started to gather all churches together once a month for fellowship. There was pouring rain during the first one, so we all gather together in my little tukul (sitting place)–45 people. (November, Lopit)




18. I learned how to weave baskets and hats from palm leaves–a local skill. Doing so, I got to build good relationships with many people. (November, Lopit)




19. I enjoyed many good evenings with my neighbors, sitting, talking and listening to the radio. Especially when I was alone in the village for a week. (November, Lopit)

20. We are doing a theological training (T.E.E.) with two local church leaders. It is so encouraging to see them grow and get excited about faith and church. (November, Lopit)




21. Two youth took me up the mountain to see the village from above. It was an amazing hike and great time with the boys. (December, Lopit)




22. Rough morning. Came home to a rat eating my bread, a dead snake in my rat trap, got stung by wasps in my shower and by mosquitos in my bathroom. Sometimes, village life is just hard! (December, Lopit)




23. The Germans! There is a German family living 12 km down the road from us. It has been a huge encouragement and blessing to me to enjoy a little bit of home away from home. (December, Lopit)



It has been an amazing year. God has done a lot and I’m very thankful to be here. And I’m excited for this new year. It will bring many exciting changes and many new challenges. But in all of the new and dull, exciting and mundane, joyful and hard, we can know that God is near. He is our constant, the unchangeable God–the same yesterday, today and forever.


May God bless you this year and may we not forget Him, but worship Him daily,


Matze
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Stay updated!

Pray for:

Thanks:

- For the rains that have finally started! It has been a great refreshment.

- For a very good, though short break in Kenya.

Requests:

- For more rain. The fields have been prepared and need rain. Pray for continuous rains, that the sorghum would grow and people will get a good harvest.

- For the video projects that God would lead and guide us to bring glory to Him.

- For the family who has lost a daughter, a mother and a friend. For the little girls who have lost their mother. For comfort, hope and perspective in this hard time!

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