After an adventurous and restful vacation with my sister, I’m back in the village again and super excited for all that lies ahead. God has been working these past weeks and hearts are being touched by the Good News. We are truly amazed!
The Lord of lords
He [King Solomon] stood on the platform [before the altar of the Lord], and then he knelt in front of the entire community of Israel and lifted his hands toward heaven. He prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, […]” 2 Chronicles 6:13-14 NLT
Can you imagine? Your whole country gathers together to celebrate a new building, the temple of God. Everyone watches the king, all eyes are on him. And then this .. the king kneels down before God. The most powerful man of Israel, the leader of all, the one to whom everyone has to bow, bows down himself before God. He shows who really is the Lord of all lords and the King of all kings. What a picture this must have been. Millions of people coming together, seeing their leader pray to God. How amazing it would be to see the chief of our village gather everyone on the market place for an announcement and then kneels down and prays to God. Or a leader of our Western countries. What would that do to a nation?
God is at work
We are all really touched by what God has been doing in the last couple weeks. One man from my village has given his life to Christ and even shared in front of our church on Sunday. He has been hearing about God for years and made small steps, but finally he made this decision. We are so happy! In another village, a local believer (fruit of some years back) is now sharing the gospel with some youth a bunch of them came to Christ and want to be baptized. In yet another village, the Jesus film was shown and so now we get requests to help them establish a Sunday service. And in general, more and more people show up in church on Sunday and more and more people attend our Bible Studies during the week.
It’s really exciting to see God move, but it’s also been many years of building relationships and rather small progress. Please pray for our area that this momentum would continue and people would give their lives to Christ.
My role in all of this
The past few days, I sat down and reflected on what my role would be in this team. As many of you might know, I’m not staying in Lopit for long, as I’m leaving South Sudan in June in preparation for our wedding. This means that I only have 7 months left here. Now I don’t have the language yet to fully participate and launch a bunch of new things, and so I really thought about how I can make the most out of this time. Here are the 5 areas I want to focus on and invest my time in:
1. Capturing stories. As God is and has been moving, there are really great and touching stories here that could encourage believers in South Sudan, as well as in the West, but that could also be a great tool of mobilizing new missionaries to come and serve in South Sudan. As I came to be a storyteller, photographer and videographer, I want to use my gift and capture these stories, so it can be a blessing to many.
2. Studies. As I haven’t studied theology and only attended a short term bible school program and some smaller seminars, I need to gain some more theological knowledge. That means that part of my time is filled with reading books (about church history and doctrine) and taking an online class called “Perspectives”. Perspectives is a 4 month program about missions with a wide variety of topics. I’m very excited for this course which starts next week.
3. Language. As I mentioned, I’m still far from speaking Lopit and therefore need to focus on learning this tribal language. It’s easy to rest on my Juba-Arabic, as quite a lot of people understand it, but I need to be very intentional about listening and speaking Lopit, as this is their heart’s language.
4. Reading class. Every Sunday, one of the youth is reading the bible passage in church, but they are not yet able to read fluently. So every Saturday, and sometimes during the week, I sit down with them and go through the text. We read together, taking turns, I explain the words they don’t know and practice pronunciation and reading skills. It’s so fun to see the progress they make, giving them the ability to study the bible for themselves.
5. Local church. We currently have a Sunday service in 3 villages and one starting this week and so I want to help wherever best I can. This will mean to take turns and go to different villages on Sundays sharing the bible story with the congregation (with a translator), helping to lead them in worship and pray with them.
I will be in the village for some months now, so I’m working now on implementing a good rhythm with a focus on these 5 areas. But there will also be free time to go and sit with people, build relationships, going to the fields with them and help build houses. Village life can be a lot of fun! As Maam and I will get married in August next year, we are currently looking into different options of where we will continue together as a couple. I will make sure to inform you once we know more. We would appreciate your prayers in that.