I touched down in Akuem from Nairobi and hit the literal dirt running on Thursday. I was so excited because I thought the cool weather was here. It was 85 at night and a gentle breeze was blowing and I actually had to cover up with my sheet. It’s amazing how your body acclimates and what used to be dreadfully hot is now a tad cool. Well this cool front lasted two nights. Last night it was a steaming 95 degrees and we were miserable in our swimming pools in our beds. Finally at 1240 a.m. I fell asleep and stayed that way till 7 a.m. That is truly God’s grace to be able to sleep through that.
Today my friend and I drove the dusty road into Aweil and celebrated Easter with the Pentecostal church there. It’s structure is made of tree trunks and limbs. The roof and walls are covered with hay and grass mat type walls, with many gaps in the roof. There was material nailed up wherever there was a gap. The floors are dirt and the benches are steel and about 10 inches wide. We arrived just a few minutes late and they were in full swing praise. It was amazing and they were singing in Dinka and some English songs.
We enjoyed a guest preacher from Khartoum who was so fired up about Jesus being alive that we just had to jump and shout. We were sweating so much but we didn’t care. You saw my weather forecast for today in the first paragraph. After the message he called for us to pray for certain things as a congregation. Before we did this we sang a worship song that was in Dinka and it was almost one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard and I did not understand a word of it. The people were singing without music because they have nothing but their voices to offer. I opened my eyes and looked around and even the children were on their knees with eyes closed lost in adoration of Jesus.
I am so undone when I go to these churches that have nothing visibly of worth. They have so much more to give of themselves because it is all they have and they give it all. I will gladly make the one hour one way journey on dirt and bumpy roads to worship with this people many times. I am so thankful that God showed me this place and again reminded me that He is not asking for our riches or fancy wardrobes or special programs. He just wants our simple and honest worship and thankfulness just to be with Him, no matter where that is. I am very content and peaceful today and have been since returning to Sudan.
There is a little boy, seven years old, who spends every single day from 7:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at our compound. His parents are drunk all the time and his daddy is a soldier. He comes here because he is loved and fed and cared for. His mother loves him but cannot care for him the way he needs and is so happy that he is with us all day. He wears the same ragged shirt and torn pants every single day, every single day. His shoes are held together with wire. This week he has been staying by my side a lot more than he used to. He follows me like a puppy. And so, I am having him teach my Dinka. He feels so proud.
Today I went to the market and bought him some new shoes and two new outfits and his face lit up like a Christmas tree. He doesn’t bathe and so I told him he would have to bathe before I gave him his new clothes. He helped me carry the wash basin and when I was going to set it up out back, he insisted on using the big boy shower room. Our Dinka guard helped him and when he reappeared he was like a new boy. His smile was big and he was so happy.
Sometimes I get frustrated because I can’t speak the language and I want so much to talk with people and tell them about Jesus. And Jesus reminds me again today that doing for the least of these is about as loud as you can get when telling people about Him. It doesn’t take words to show them Jesus. It just takes time to go and do what is in your heart anyway. People see what is being done and they see Jesus.
I sent a prayer request out a few days ago and that still stands. An update to this concerning my team here at SP. One of our drivers in Rumbek was held at gunpoint by the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and forced to drive for eight solid hours shuttling guns for the SPLA. The Army is staging weapons for what might come. Our driver was unharmed but it was just another eye opener of how tense things are. We are pulling all of our guys out of this region which is an eight hour drive from Akuem and bringing them here. Also, we have sent all our Sudanese people from Yei back home to vote. And so we are few in number here at our base and work has come to a standstill.
I will not be allowed to leave the compound in just a few more days, even sooner if things get tense. I am at peace here and feel no fear. I believe God has a wonderful plan for Sudan. There are many in His Sudanese church body who are fasting and praying around the clock for these times and for peace. God will not be mocked and He will respond to His people. I love these people and I love their stamina in the face of such trials and their extreme trust in God in the face of the storms. These people teach me what faith is and what perseverance is. The Dinka people don’t know what the word quit means. And they smile and laugh through all of this. They have true joy in Jesus. I am learning so much from them.