This week I decided to run in the mornings so I could have some quiet time with the Lord as I ran. The children aren’t up and out usually at 6:30 a.m. and so my chances are pretty good to get some quiet time. Here in Sudan, the dogs run wild. They are not normally cared for and are skinny and mangy and have their tails tucked almost all the time. They are a very scary looking pack, and they do hang out in huge packs. There is a pack of about 15 that spends their time on the field near our compound. They are spread out all over the field in the early morning and they just lie there and watch. I am out there by myself and am amazed at how safe I feel as I run past them, just trusting in God to keep me hedged in next to Him.
They have never attacked me although they stare at me as I come and go. They snarl at and fight each other but they leave me alone. Back in America, if I even saw one lone dog on a deserted street I would start to worry. I guess I am noticing how different I have become concerning the things that used to worry me. I have learned that it is a lot easier to just trust God, stay in His peace, no matter what, just trust Him.
Another day, I was running with the kids and the bigger boys were saying, “You run slowly”. I told them that I run slowly so that I can go the distance and not get tired. If I run too fast, I will get tired and not make the distance and will have to turn around and go back or stop a lot to regain strength.
Of course, I then thought about our spiritual lives and ministry and such. This is such a good description of Paul telling the church about running the race and endurance and perseverance. So many believers want to rush along and do everything quickly and get to the prize, the end product, the big count. I have learned here in Sudan that God really isn’t in any hurry. His plans will come to pass and He is not caught up in time. We need to keep a steady pace, always looking ahead at the path, and stay in the race, building our endurance as we go, even if nothing appears to be happening. I think that is when many Christians give up on ministry and callings and such, when nothing appears to be happening. Just keep swimming, as Dori would say (Finding Nemo).
Last Sunday, after church, I went to visit and pray with the three boys who were in jail for robbing us. We got to the jail, which I stated was just a thatched grass structure with some leg irons attached to the wooden post in the middle, and the jailor said that the boys had escaped the night before. I asked how that was possible. He said that they broke the locks and fled. It is impossible to escape the sight of the guards unless the guards were asleep or drunk. And so, our boys are gone. My tent mate is still missing a few items and so I don’t know what will come of it all. She isn’t concerned though, as she puts her trust in the Lord and not in things.
A few days ago I did something pretty funny. I gave the ladies in the kitchen and the housekeepers each a cinnamon jawbreaker and I told them to keep it in their mouths. At first their eyes lit up and they gave the thumbs up sign for “good”. Then as it got hotter and hotter, they would pop it out in their hand and look at me in surprise. I showed them mine was still in and told them to keep it in (I am laughing now). They would try and literally drool because it was so hot. They asked what kind of pepper it was. I laughed and introduced them to cinnamon!
There are these lizards here who are very bold. In my office, there is a makeshift shelf (2×8 plank of wood on concrete blocks) which holds our canned food and spices and cleaning supplies. My chair sits right next to it and I was typing on my computer and this lizard just walks right across the food and stops on a bag of pasta and just stares at me. He is about ten inches long, head to tail, and he would cock his little head and just watch me. I even placed a small bag near him and he did not move. Needless to say, I shoo’d him away as his gaze was making me uncomfortable. Just one more of our animal assortment in our every day lives here in Sudan.
This morning I preached at the SPC church in Manyel. It was literally pouring down rain from 4:00 a.m. and still raining at 9:30 when we arrived. People were walking through mud and water up to their shins in order to get to church and it was a fully packed house. And here, where there is water from rain, you find snakes swimming along too! These people do not make weather or snakes an excuse for missing church. They come anyway. I watched as people in rags, literal rags with holes and dirt, some wet, came up to give their offering. Here in Sudan we don’t pass the bag. We come to the alter and we offer our tithe. If we don’t have money then the people bring some of their crop harvest in bags and lay it there at the alter. It is amazing how these who have so little still find something to give the Lord.
No pastor ever stands there and gives a long speech about why they should give. No pastor even makes a big deal out of why people should give. They start their service with worship and lots of it and then prayer and lots of it and then the offering. Then comes the message. I really like the fact that people come up and give their offering. It makes it feel more like an offering and not something you “should” do.
So. Today I was preaching on choosing between life and death and talking about the power of the tongue concerning this. I was talking about how when you doubt or speak negative you side with the devil. I told them about the Israelites who feared the giants and how Joshua and Caleb stood on the promise of God. I was talking about how so many people here say they are always sick and in pain. I wanted to encourage them to not walk by sight but walk by faith in Who our God is and speak life into their situations, the Word of God.
Well right in the middle of this there was a commotion that was disrupting the whole service. I asked what was wrong and the pastor said to keep going, that it was just the devil taking hold of a young lady because she was on the floor having a seizure. They were just going to leave her be and wait for it to pass. All eys were on her and no longer on the Lord.
I walked back to where she was and the pastor and I rebuked the attack of the devil and we shut him down and prayed the peace of the Lord over this girl. I told the congregation to take their eyes off of the girl and what they were seeing and get their eyes on Jesus and what He could do. This young lady was delivered right there in the service and she stood up to glorify the Lord. We gave the devil no place this day. We spoke life into her. God was truly glorified in that place today and what the devil meant to use to disrupt, God showed everyone how the words of life change the situation for His glory. It was so awesome!
After the service, we were taken to a little hut and were served a freshly killed and cooked goat. It was so good with some good home baked bread coming from a handmade brick fired oven. What a wonderful morning we had in fellowship, sharing the Word and breaking bread together, eating with our hands as is the custom, which I love.
Outside of our compound there is an old runway and the kids play on a huge soccer field that they have created there. It is just so amazing to watch them playing in and amongst these huge cows and bulls. The cattle here are just like family. They are so domesticated. They just wander around and chew the grass and are not the least disturbed by humans. I even went up and pet one on the forehead! And it let me. I love these cows, they are so cool. There are also sheep and goat everywhere, along with donkeys. You don’t have to go to the zoo or safari here! They are right outside your front door. Just down the road, there is a pond that is home to a crocodile and there are monkeys in the trees. There is one lone hippo who roams the rivers of Aweil town, whom I have yet to spot. Some of our guys have seen him/her so I know it exists.
And so you have it, just another week of battling rainstorms blowing in my tent at four in the morning, lizards gazing at me, hanging out with cows and kids, and putting the devil in his place. Aaaahhhhh the life of a bush woman! Haha!