Friday, September 6, 2013

Stories & reflections about South Sudan

The Love birds in Lietnhom, South Sudan
It was two years ago that the love for the people of South Sudan was dropped in my heart like an unexpected friend. I did not watch any documentaries, I did not hear any horror stories…this love was just there one day.
Culture in South Sudan

I have always admired people who live their lives knowing they were born to serve a particular people group. Some know right at a very young age and at the right time, they say goodbye to friends and family, and leave a life they have always known to one they know nothing about, except that their heart beat is for the people of a different land. They are motivated by a loud call from above to spend their lives for the sake of the good news of Jesus Christ, for the sake of true freedom, peace and justice. All for the sake of making God’s name famous and being a glimmer of light in another part of the world where many have refused to go, where many have seen no hope, people many have abandoned. I have always wanted to be one of those people. So I prayed one day, “Lord give me a burden for a people group, so that I may ache for them, pray for them and serve them in a sacrificial way”.

Most people who follow Jesus intimately know that the Lord does not waste any time in answering a prayer like that. That is because in that moment of longing, we are actually speaking out the very will of God. As the Lord’s prayer says, “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. I think I prayed for God’s love to be plastered in my heart for a people He loves.
The streets of Juba, South Sudan
For me the people group, was an entire country-South Sudan, which has been ravaged by war for over 40 years. The youngest country in the world became an independent nation on July 9th 2011, after decades of war, persecution and pain. This land locked country is said to host at least 10 million indigenes which display over 200 unique tribal orientations. The larger tribal groups include the Dinka and the Nuer peoples.
 So what is there to love about South Sudan? How has this love for South Sudan changed the way I look at life, the way I relate to my God or the way I analyze the real needs of my world. If you will travel with me for a few more minutes I will share just a few reflections and stories about how a six weeks mission trip, with a ministry I work for and love and respect, called ALARM (African Leadership & Reconciliation Ministry) . This trip has really helped me renew my mind and gain confidence for the future. -to learn more about ALARM visit

So what is there to love about South Sudan?
ALARM Juba Staff, my new family away from home (L-R-Mohandis, Sunday, Michael, James, Victoria, Lawrence)

I love the people. Their dark serious look may throw you for a loop, but taking a step closer reveals a smile I saw many times over. First of all, I fell in love with the staff of ALARM from Juba, to Lietnhom and at Yei. They became my family for six weeks, sharing with me their stories of war, letting me into their pain and frustrations, yet as they share you may wonder how they really feel. Many of my ALARM friends showed little facial expression as they shared stories which revealed great pain, injustice and sacrifice.

One of my new friends on staff with ALARM , prior to independence, lived in Khartoum (predominantly Muslim North),  said, “In order for me to eat every day, I went to the Muslim school, even though I was a Christian. I was learning about Allah five days a week, and then Sunday about Jesus”. We all laughed, but when I thought about it, the reality that a young Christian  had no food except what falls from the table of the Islamic school did not sit well with me.
ALARM Staff in Yei, South Sudan, just amazing people (L-R-Margaret, Faith, Levi, John & I (Sheila))
Another friend shared with me his journey to Ethiopia, as they fled the war of the country.  Walking for 11 days with no food and running from air strike attacks from the Islamic northern regime which South Sudan had been fighting for over 20 years, were some of the things they experienced. The walk to Ethiopia took three months, with people dying every day. He said to me, “we did not cry when someone died, we just knew that the next day we might be next. As South Sudanese people we knew that one day we shall be free, but I never thought I will live to see the day when this happens”. With the cutest smile I have ever seen, I stared at this man in front of me, a man who now lives and raises a family, in his independent country. He now has given himself to train African leaders in servant leadership, peace building and reconciliation. He leads a team of people whom God has called, through the arm of ALARM to transform their community with the saving news of the love of God, found in Jesus Christ.
ALARM Staff in Lietnhom, South Sudan, I love you guys and miss you (L-R-Mary, Simon, Peter, Moses)
Another friend said to me, “While I was in the refugee camp I eat lentils every day for four years”. Immediately I started hating lentils, as a silent protest to the injustice that had plagued his world. Another friend said to me, “I came to Christ while in the refugee camp in Kenya, after many years of suffering even at the camp, I cried to God…saying…How long will we keep suffering, are you ever going to help South Sudan, do you hear us, do you see us”. As he spoke, his eyes transported me back to that day and time when he cried to the Lord, and I felt a tear fall down my own eyes.

So what is there to love about South Sudan? it was for me its people. A resilient people, who fight for what they believe in, who have decided to make their nation, a nation under God, in deed and creed. I carry their friendship and stories in my heart. They have made me a better person simply by sharing their life with me. For this I am grateful.
How has your time in South Sudan changed you?

ALARM Pastoral Leadership Training Institute (PLTI ), Lietnhom South Sudan. The leaders we taught for a week
It has given me a confidence in being a vessel the Lord can use, no matter how broken I am. The scripture that captures my six weeks in South Sudan is found in Psalm 30:7a, “Your favor, oh Lord has made me as secure as a mountain”. My time there was blessed by the Lord, He granted me wisdom to do the work he was calling me to do. From training church leaders, to encouraging displaced women, to even using my business and operations management background to help the work of the kingdom. As I trained, I learnt as well and for this I am so grateful. South Sudan has sharpened my hope for Africa, they represent to me a modern day Israel story, how God took a people in bondage and granted them independence in their own land (1 Pet 2:9-10). I felt like I got to live out the joy of being in the land of Canaan right after defeating the city of Jericho.

How has visiting South Sudan affected your walk with God?
Posing in Gudelle, Juba, South Sudan
I am learning that there is really nothing that beats obedience. As some wise people say, “it is ok to do things even when you are scared…I think it is called courage”. I went to South Sudan, scared, not knowing what to expect, feeling inadequate but willing to be obedient by His grace. Then a few days in South Sudan, I realized that although I was working for God and serving His people, God was actually working for me and giving me what I really needed most…confidence to do the work. Like He encouraged Moses, or Joshua, the Lord used South Sudan to show me that He is able to use me to do His bidding. He assured me that even though the vision is big, He is bigger still and I can trust Him. So yes, yet again I got another lesson on trusting God and seeing the beauty of obedience.
So as I reflect on six weeks well spent, all I can do is say is Thank you Lord, thank you to all who supported this trip financially and through your prayers. As one wise man once said, "To stand on one leg and prove God’s existence is a very different thing from going on one’s knees and thanking Him".

So as we worship and thank the Lord together, I leave you with a picture slideshow of the trip or use this link ALARM South Sudan Internship Trip

Thanks for reflecting with me, about how God can use a broken vessel like me…I hope you are encouraged that he can use you too. If you are willing and available, God will do His finest work in and through you, now this is true comfort for the soul. 
To know more about ALARM and how you can partner with us in ministry, visit
The beauty from my worship walk, Lietnhom South Sudan

My Testimony