Sunday, February 07, 2016

The Body of Christ

Eli teaching Sunday school

Reuniting with special friends
           I want to preface my story today by saying this story is much bigger and greater than the small part that I know. But the part of the story I know and have taken part in is so beautiful and encouraging that I want to share it with the world.
            As many of you know already, Eli and I have had the immense joy of teaching the Bible and discipling new believers among a Sudanese tribe called the Ingassana. They are originally from an area north of us but due to war have fled to our county and are hungry to learn the Truth about Jesus. We spent our first four months in Doro last year, with a small team of missionaries and Sudanese believers, going out to three different Ingassana camps each week to teach them God’s Story from the beginning. In December when we planned to leave South Sudan for almost 2 months because of Christmas vacation and a conference we attended in Kenya, we believed that God would provide others from the Body of Christ to teach and encourage these baby churches. This weekend we saw just how GREAT our God is and the beautiful ministry He carried on in our absence.
            One of the groups of new believers in a camp called Yusif Batil were so desperate to continue learning the Bible that they wrote a letter to the Mabaan SIC (Sudan Interior Church), requesting they send people to teach them the Bible and to encourage their small group of new Christ followers. The Mabaan church (host tribe of all the refugees) responded by not only sending one or two people, but they met together and wrote up a schedule so that every Sunday a group of Mabaan believers would go out to encourage the church in Batil.
            This morning our first stop was in Gendrassa where we joined a small group for Sunday school. Eli was asked to share a lesson and he told the story of Noah and tied in the gospel saying just like the people of that day could not save themselves in the flood, there is no way we can be saved except through Jesus. Children who had gathered outside the church to get a glimpse of these strange white people and their children came in and listened.

Driving from one refugee camp to another

            From there we decided to drive a little further to Batil to greet the church there. Well, we arrived to quite the celebration! Not only had a few pastors come from the Mabaan church, but they brought their wives, children and the youth choir! The youth choir sang and danced and I could not hold back my tears of joy as I noticed the church was full to overflowing and neighbors and passersby had stopped to see what was going on. The choir sang in Arabic, the language they share in common, teaching this young church new hymns and choruses. Later we found out the head count was 125 which is incredible since our little Bible study is usually a group of less than 20 men and women.
The Mabaan youth choir
 Several got up to speak in front of the church. The leader of the Batil church stood and thanked everyone for coming and for their encouragement. We had also brought a young man who leads the Gendrassa church with us and he got up and gave a brief testimony. My favorite story told was by a man named Barnaba.  Barnaba is actually a Mabaan man but he lives in Yusif Batil camp as a policeman. The new Christians in Batil had originally built a small shade structure for their church in another location about 300 meters away. But right before Christmas some people in the community who were not happy about people turning to Jesus came and destroyed the church structure. This Mabaan policeman, Barnaba, told the new believers they could build a new structure right next to his barracks where he could guard it and keep an eye on it. And so they did. This morning Baranaba shared that he’d walked away from the Lord and hadn’t gone to church for 6 years but Jesus has called him back through this little tiny church plant. He was very instrumental in calling the Mabaan church members out to encourage the Ingassana.
            As I witnessed these two tribes who have been quite hostile towards each other in the last couple of years, worshipping together and expressing their love for one another, I realized that the spark that began with the Ingassana recently is now being fanned into quite the flame! Not only that, but we’re seeing revival in the hearts of these more mature Christians who needed to be reminded of their “first love”, the excitement and joy they had when they first came to Christ.

            Today was a good reminder that God doesn’t need me out there in the camps. He is shining His Truth into peoples’ hearts and using whom He chooses. It gives me such peace that it’s not up to us. God’s got this. And one day we will experience something similar to John in the book of Revelation chapter 7 when we all come to worship our King with every tribe and tongue and nation!

Pastors Andrew and Bulus from Mabaan

New believers joyfully welcomed & thanked everyone for coming to worship with them.
Neighborhood children came to see what was happening at the new church

Praise the Lord that most of the men are literate in Arabic!


Sandy said...

Those pictures are incredible! Reading your description along with the picture tells such a vivid story. I'm printing this post out so I can read over and pray for these dear brothers and sisters. Thank you for writing about God's good work!

Jared Staples said...

Our prayer group prayed for you guys tonight. So thrilled to hear what God is doing!