I have just realized that I have been back in Africa for ten weeks! Time just marches on and March has left us! This week we are somewhat back to normal here at the Children’s Village. Well, we were. Then Monday morning we had to take a nice little trip back to Morobo, the village where I camped a few weeks ago. Two of our boy’s father called and said he is dying and wanted to see his sons. And you are asking why are the boys here if they have a dad? Their mother was horribly abusing them and after meeting her, I think she isn’t all there upstairs, so….
It was a very emotional time for the boys. As soon as they got off the truck they started crying. Then my eyes were watering up. Then mama Eudita’s eyes were watering up. The father was really sick. I told him about the miracle that his son received during our Friday Night Furnace prayers. He was the one who was in extreme pain and then dancing ten minutes later, free from all pain. I also told the father that his sons knew how to pray and pray powerfully and that they were going to pray for their daddy to be healed.
We prayed and prayed and didn’t see any immediate results during our visit. The good news is we haven’t received any calls saying he died and so we continue to believe that God touched him and I did declared the Word, “You shall live and not die and you and your whole house will serve the Lord.”
I left there thinking about “faith”. The Book of Hebrews 2:10 and 12:2 says that Jesus is the “author” and perfecter of our faith and He is also the “author” of our salvation. So, the Bible also says that if we are saved then our names will appear in the Book of Life. So I was thinking that if there is a Book of Life, where Jesus is the Author, then there must be a Book of Faith, where Jesus is also the Author.
Jesus gives us perfect salvation. Jesus also gives us perfect faith. So anything that we set ourselves to do that will honor Him, well we have the entire Book of Faith behind us! Jesus wrote it and He made it perfect. We each have our own book of faith to draw from, to fill the pages of. Every time we take a step of faith, Jesus writes it in our book! We can have a pamphlet of faith or we can have a best seller, a novel packed with faith stories.
And so I like to throw off everything that hinders me from walking in faith and doing the stuff that takes great faith. When we do stuff in faith, Jesus adds it to our book. He is the Author. He writes it all down because He loves to read and reread the faith stuff that we do! He writes really great books too! We are the subject, He is the Author and He perfects us. We don’t have to stir up our faith or have perfect faith because He perfects us. Practice makes perfect. Let us practice our faith a little each day and see how He will make it perfect.
Tuesday morning we loaded all of the toddlers, 18 of them, into our tipper truck, which is like a low walled dump truck. We sat on a nice African mat, all of us mamas sitting around them, and one little five year old girl sang Jesus songs all the way to town as we headed off to get polio and measles vaccines. It was the cutest picture. Then they all stood in their perfect small line to wait their turn to get stuck with a needle. I am constantly shown through the actions of these small toddlers how Jesus wants us to come to Him. These little ones are so trusting and they just follow where we show them, even though they see that it might sting just a little. I stood with each one and calmed them and they trusted enough to come forward. I daily pursue this kind of trust in Jesus.
As we move closer to the July 9th date of independence for South Sudan, tensions are rising a bit. There is a renegade SPLA General name George Athor who is leading a group of rebels that are calling themselves The South Sudan Democratic Movement. So far four of the ten states in South Sudan have groups that have joined him. He claims that the current government is controlled by the Dinka tribe and there is inequality in this. His rebel forces consist of warlords who have killed many in the Abyei oil field area to remove them from that land for the North. It is not looking good and some believe that there is a possibility of a civil war between the people of South Sudan. This group has also killed 200 innocent civilians in one of the towns where they are holing up. This is the North’s dream, their ambition all along for us here in the South, disunity.
And so we pray. If we don’t pray, then nothing will happen for the good of this nation and her children. We pray for a peaceful resolution to the disputes of her fathers for the sake of the children. We pray for wisdom and unity in Jesus in the hearts of those who seek to sit in government offices. We pray for the Hope of this nation, Jesus Christ, to be made manifest in the hearts of those who seek to cause disunity and corruption in South Sudan. As I gathered with the youth on Friday night for hour time of intercession, this was our prayer focus. They are powerful pray-ers, these youth of South Sudan.
Every night before I retire to my bed, I walk to the children’s houses and peek in, cuddling one or two here and there as they prepare for bed. In every house, the children are sitting on the floor, all huddled around a tiny kerosene flame, vying for the flickering light to see their school work. They are all working together to study and copy notes. The teens walk to and from school, about three miles each way, each day. Yesterday it rained in the afternoon and I thought about the children in the west and how cars would be lining up in front of the schools to take children home in order to keep them dry. And I thought about our children and wondered how they were keeping dry. Were they running into a friends hut or standing under a mango tree to wait out the rain? Most times, they just keep walking, soaking wet. They are amazing.
This is all they know here. There is no light switch and comfortable desk in each room by which to do their homework. No computers and textbooks. No school buses. Here, the children spend the day copying entire textbooks in order to learn because there is only one per class or school. Only a few can gather around the textbook at one time and so the others must copy notes from these few when they get home at night. The smaller children have small chalkboards on which to practice their skills, erasing it all to use again and again. And when the rains come, they make their way home however they can, hoping to arrive with dry books and notes and bodies. Also, since it is too far to walk home for lunch, the older children go all day without food until they arrive home in the evenings, usually around 6-7 pm. This is life in Sudan, at least our part of it.
Saturday, I attended the Police graduation ceremony in the town center along with a couple of thousand other people. We had planned just to stand along the sidelines with everyone else in the town. As soon as we arrived, two westerners and two of our older Sudanese sons, we were immediately escorted to the VIP seating area and we sat behind the top officers and the Central Equatoria Governor. There was enough brass and high officials to start a small war and here we were, two of three westerners in the midst of them and two of our older boys The boys said that just last week they would have been standing in the hot sun with everyone else and now look where they are sitting. Talk about God exalting the humble and placing us before governors and kings! Such an inspiration for these two young men to be exalted like this and humble enough to know it was God.
We were so proud of our police brothers, standing there in full ceremonial uniform. Then they did something simply astounding, never been done before. They had a small marching band in their midst and 450 police recruits marched up to the platform in a beautiful formation and stopped. The drum beat once, they dropped to one knee. The drum beat again and they snapped their heads to their left pocket over their hearts. The drum beat again and they snapped their right hands high in the air, still on bended knee, and there in their hands was a small Bible! They then repeated the police oath after the highest ranking police official in the land, swearing allegiance on the Bible. It was an amazing sight to see those Bibles lifted in the air and them on bended knee.
After the ceremony ended, I boldly walked up to this highest ranking police officer and shook his hand and told him how pleased we were with his men and that we loved them so much and spent every Sunday with them to minister spiritually. He was well pleased and thanked us. Next week I think we will meet the next set of new recruits and will begin discipling them soon. It is very exciting to be a part of the new police force in South Sudan. The speaker told the men that no longer should they look at each other as being from different tribes. They are now of the tribe of “Sulta” which means authority. A co-missionary and I looked at each other and said, “Yes, spiritual authority in Jesus over darkness”.
The continuing progress of two of our newest arrivals is as follows. Saida, the little girl who just began to trust me a few weeks ago now calls my name from across the compound when she sees me walk by. She laughs and smiles every time I pick her up now. She is playing with other children and beginning to interact more often. The transformation is amazing. The older girl who was tied to a tree is healed and happy. Her hands work, her scars on her arms are almost completely healed and she interacts with others on a regular basis and she helps in the kitchen all the time. Again, the transformation is amazing.
The children who come to us are healed only by the love of Jesus and the love of each other. There are no counselors here, no doctors. We only have Jesus and each other and it is more than enough. God’s grace is truly sufficient for ALL our needs. I would love to duplicate this model of love for all the hurting kids in the west who live in institutions. Another huge factor here is that there is no comparing with other children. African students all wear uniforms and so no one looks any better than anyone else. Our children do not watch TV, only family type DVD’s, and so they don’t feel like they are missing out on anything. Children in the village don’t even get to watch DVDs as much as our children do (once a week on Sunday nights).
Our children have a few sets of clothes, they are fed three meals a day, they have mamas who love them and more than anything, a Father who they KNOW loves them. He is a life transformer. These children are happy and basically don’t ask for anything. They are secure in God’s love for them. And this is just another way how I learned to be that secure also in His love for me. He really does provide for our every need.
Tomorrow I will journey to the city of Juba, which is about a 100 miles north. It will take about 7 hours to drive because of the roads. I will be taking public transportation for the first time. We go into Yei town to the “taxi park” and pick a car and hop in with others who are traveling the same way and trust that we get a good driver and a good car. I am going with one of our mamas, who doesn’t speak English. So, this will be a new adventure for me. I will be staying at a compound in the city that ministers to street children and widows. This ministry is the type I want in Aweil and so I will spend a week there learning from the lady who runs it. I will also possibly be bringing home a seven year old little girl who was found abused and begging on the streets.