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Sweat and Hard Work

The new year started with a lot of manual labor, a growing church and a tough sickness. But overall it has been an amazing month. As always, thanks for following along and helping God’s kingdom expand in South Sudan.




A Spark of Enthusiasm

So the Lord sparked the enthusiasm of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the enthusiasm of Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the enthusiasm of the whole remnant of God’s people. They began to work on the house of their God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, […] Haggai 1:14 NLT

Back then, Haggai spoke to the people of Israel to finish rebuilding the Temple. They had been too concerned with their own homes and things that they forgot about God. What I loved about this passage is that it was not the words of Haggai that made them do it; it was God Himself. The Lord sparked the enthusiasm, as the NLT says. The NIV would say “stirred up the spirit”. Nonetheless, Haggai preached a message, wrote this letter, encouraged the people, but it was God Himself who put this excitement in their hearts. And God did so to the whole nation of Israel. I can only imagine what that would look like here in Lopit … a whole village, a whole mountain range sparked with enthusiasm for the Lord. Or the whole nation of Germany, Canada or the US. Let us pray for a spark like that. Let us cry out to our God for our nations.



Building a Church

It was about 10 years ago, that evangelical missionaries first arrived in Lopit. Since then, it has been a tough place, resistant to the gospel with slow progress and not more than a few believers. In May 2023, we started with another team of missionaries, revived old connections, restarted bible studies and started to meet on Sundays under a tree. But this time, we could really see God drawing people to Himself. Soon, we started a church in two other villages and found excited men in those villages who would want to lead the church and started theological training with them. And now, we are starting to build an actual church building. The whole church comes together, we bring logs, bamboo and palm leaves and we start building. Two weeks ago, one of the local church leaders started with family devotions at his home and many neighbors, kids and church people join him. They started a Sunday School choir, teaching the kids songs and sharing bible stories. And people seem to be more and more interested in God. For me, it is a huge privilege to be here and now see the fruit that many missionaries before me were praying and laboring for. I have not contributed much to this, but get to help facilitate this growing movement.

All of this is really exciting for us and our local churches. But the task is still unbelievably big. The mountain range consists for 50+ villages and we are only working in 4 of them … There are a few other missionaries and church efforts in other villages, but many remain untouched by the gospel. Yes, God is massively at work among the Lopit, but the task is still huge. So please pray for these people. Pray for the Lopit. Pray for villages like Ibele and Tabur that we were not yet able to reach. And pray for the few local believers that are here. It’s not easy to follow Christ wholeheartedly. There are many temptations and a lot of pressure from the community to participate in their beliefs. And pray for the many people groups around us who are just as unreached as ours. May God touch this area with His spark of enthusiasm.




Other things this month

I was able to finish up my magazine and get it printed. Many have been shipped out to you guys and I got lots of good feedback already. If I “sparked your enthusiasm:)” for my magazine, “order” one on my blog for a small donation or reach out to me. It’s available in German and English and can be shipped worldwide.

Mid-January, I was able to visit Torit for a week, catching up with good friends I had made during my year there, getting a break from the village and getting some things done online that require more internet. It has been a really good time, but unfortunately me and my entire team got sick … so I guess the village is a safer place to live in?!:) I first got a small stomach bug and then developed strong malaria. I don’t remember that I have ever been that sick in my entire life. I was in bed for 4 days, unable to do simple tasks, had high fever and strong headaches. Luckily, malaria is well treatable and so after a week, I was my old self again.

And then I was able to do a lot of manual labor. Beginning of the month, I went to the forest with two friends to get bamboo–hard work. It’s a 1 hour hike up the mountain, then finding the right bamboo, cutting it, tying it to bundles and then carrying it back. But it was a lot of fun and many people told me that I’m now a true Lopit:) We also made drums for our church. Really cool to see and learn how that works. I hired some women and my neighbor to “mud” my compound. In Lopit and most of Africa, life happens outside and so people care a lot about how the compound looks. So in Lopit, they “pave” an area with a mixture of clay soil and cow dung that, once dried, is similar to a concrete surface. Because I want to leave the place better than I found it and because I want to support the community and create jobs, I decided to hire them. And honestly, it looks amazing! In the meantime, I worked on a project I wanted to get done for a while: running water in my kitchen sink. So I built a platform for a water tank and taught myself some basic plumbing skills. I’m really happy by how it turned out, but I’m also glad, I’m not a plumber .. :) In all of this, my purpose was to build relationships, do what the locals do and become like one of them. But of course, I also enjoy those things and I’m so happy I get to learn some more skills along the way.





What’s next?

I now have two weeks left here before I get a very special visitor. I’m very excited to see my fiancé again and show her where I live. Before that, we have some more visitors come, I have a few last house projects to do with some friends and I’m planning a new video with AIM Stories. But of course, all this happens while we build church, train local church leaders and do bible studies. Life is busy, but that’s a good thing.



Many blessings from a hot and dry South Sudan,

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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