Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Developing a Strategy

I have taken nearly a year without posting so though I cannot touch on everything, I want to share briefly about the direction our team is going and some stories about a few individuals.
Discovery Bible Studies.
In May our whole unit in South Sudan went out to Lokichoggio, Kenya where we joined together for fellowship and training for starting Disciple Making Movements through Discovery Bible Studies. Disciplemaking Making Movements refer to training self-propagating followers of Jesus.  Discovery Bible Study is a method used for making disciples which emphasizes obedience to God's word in a supportive group setting by which the learners read together a selected bible passage and talk about what it teaches them and how they will commit to obeying it.   Most of us were familiar with the Discovery Bible Study method and had talked and read about Disciple Making Movements, but it was helpful to see and hear from our teacher at the retreat who was practicing and seeing churches formed through such a method in East Africa.  We had a lot of good discussions and our Laarim team decided that we wanted to begin implementing many of the principles we learned.  Though we cannot hold a study with text for a group to read and follow because very few are literate, we are able to share the Bible stories and teach people to memorize them. And we believe that through such means the Holy Spirit can speak to hearts, teach, and empower people to obey and follow Jesus.  Some team members are currently working on a set of Bible stories in chronological order to be translated into Laarim for sharing orally during such meetings.
In the meantime, our team has begin implementing some of the principles of the Discovery Bible Studies.  Some days go better than others, but each time as a group meets God's truths are being presented and a number of people make a commitment to obey what what they are learning from God's word.  One by one, lives are being changed and more people are coming to know Christ.    
A New Season for Andrew
My first team member to join me, Andrew, has finished up his two-year commitment to serve among the Laarim and has returned to England.  I thank the Lord for bringing Andrew to South Sudan and using him effectively in ministry.  Andrew impacted many lives, including mine, by demonstrating Christlike character during his time with us.  He really made the most of the opportunities God gave him and was an example and encouragement to us all.
Last January was a difficult month for me with the loss of my friend Loduko whom I had known for two years.  Loduko was about 16 years old.  He stood out to me as the one in the group of children and youth who would speak out for what he believed was right, sometimes in my defense and other times harshly against my decisions.  But I enjoyed spending time with him and we grew closer over the months as he patiently helped me with the Laarim language and I spent time teaching Laarim literacy lessons and Bible stories to him. 
Over time I noticed that Loduko became more respectful toward me and others even if he did not agree with our decisions.  I also observed that Loduko did his best to be honest with me even if it was not to his benefit.  Whenever we had any activities or prayer times together Loduko was usually there with us.  Eventually Loduko trusted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  But a few months later I noticed Loduko had not been around for a some days. When I asked someone about him I was told he was sick.  I quickly went to his home and found Loduko on his sleeping mat in his house with a high fever and without the strength to even walk.   I prayed for him and took him to the clinic with his mother and brother where Loduko tested positive for malaria.  But sadly the treatment he received was not adequate and he died two days later. It was a painful time.  I learned from his mother that Loduko was the one she could always count on to be of help in the family, even though she has two sons older than him.  I pray that Loduko's mother and siblings will also come to know Jesus as he did.  
Our friend and brother Loboi
I had first become acquainted with Loboi, a Laarim, in Torit when I came back to South Sudan in 2011.  We became friends and I would visit him regularly.  A couple of years later Loboi trusted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  Though I had moved out to Loryok by that time, I still would see Loboi during my stays in Torit.  During one of our conversations Loboi told me that he wanted to be a pastor.  Loboi was still in school, but we would still meet and pray together when there was opportunity.  A number of times, Loboi had volunteered to come out when different needs arose.  One time he came and helped me put up a fence around a compound I was working on.  Another time he and I went out with a group to help build a new house for Kenyan missionary Jacinta in the village of Farasika when hers was destoryed by termintes.
Loboi continued in school until he finished his final exams in March of this year.  After finishing, he eagerly came out to work with our current team of 10 adults helping us with language and ministry outreach.  Now that  Loboi stays with the team, he divides up his week spending a couple days at each of our three locations.  During his free time, Loboi has been visiting his friends and family, often sharing the gospel and encouraging those whom he has led to Christ.   

Loboi's baptism, January 2016
(Andrew standing at the far left. Loboi standing second to left. Loduko standing at the far right.)
Home Assignment
As of late August I have been on home assignment in the US and plan to be here until January 2018. I have been enjoying seeing friends and family as well as having the time and space to focus on tasks with minimal interruption.  Now that I have access to my blog I hope to post again before too many months go by.
How you can pray
-Please pray for team members as they continue to reach out by sharing Bible stories at different family compounds in the villages.  Pray for the Holy Spirit to lead and open hearts as the word is shared.
-Pray for Loboi to continue growing in his love for Jesus and his fellow Laarim so that he would continue to be effective in ministry.
-Pray for me to be refreshed and encouraged while in the US so that I will be prepared to return and continue joyfully serving among the Laarim.

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