I am sitting here with my headlamp around my neck, sort of like a necklace, and my computer on my lap, listening to Peace, my favorite baby, crying in the distance. If I could seriously adopt a baby right this very minute, I would not hesitate to take Peace as my own. She is the cutest, funniest, happiest, sweetest baby I have ever known. A sheer bundle of pure joy. Her mother died in childbirth and her daddy just can’t care for her and so she has been here since her first week of life, eight months ago. Also we have just learned that her teenage sister died last week. Again, death is so much a part of life here.
Every single day we here news reports of fighting in some area of Sudan and it is beginning to get worse. Just this week there was a report of a rebel group who busted in on an orphanage and basically held 103 children hostage. None were hurt thank God. Really, thank You God. Here in Sudan there are wars and rumors of wars. With July 9th looming closer, the talks between the two presidents, North and South, are strained at best. The Northern armies have also been positioning tanks and artillery in Abyei where the oil is, for an imminent strike it is believed. They are also building up the roads in that area. Right now, it doesn’t look so good. The church here is praying and we here at Iris are praying.
This week I have spent a lot of time at the clinics and hospital, trying to get care for one of our young boys. He fractured his ankle two weeks ago. I took him to a German clinic, which is the only place that I go to when I am sick. Of course I only see the German doctor who happens to be a friend. Our boy had to wait in line and see a Sudanese physician assistant, sort of….. Their schooling is extremely limited. Our nurses in the west know more than they do unfortunately. So, here we are in this hallway that is very narrow where knees almost touch as we sit across the aisle from each other on very small benches, everyone squished together, one big happy family. After more than an hour of sitting, I looked at all these people and said, “You know, we should just pray and ask Jesus to heal us all so we can just go home.” You guessed it, I began to pray for everyone. We all bowed heads and closed eyes and prayed. There were amens all around.
Hey, you gotta at least take that step of faith and just do it, hmmmm. So the PA called our name and he looked at the boy’s leg and squeezed it a little and that was it. Gave him some low dose antibiotics and told us to go to the Yei hospital for an xray.
The xray cost a whopping $3.00 which we had to pay for up front before any xray was taken, and then the power went out when we got there and so we had to wait untill it came back on. So I’m standing there and this drunk guy comes up to me, sits down on the floor at my feet and grabs my leg like he was going to hug it. I just backed up a step and stared at him. Then he started pursing his lips like he was kissing me. There are about 60 people watching this whole thing. I squatted down in front of him and quietly pointed in his face and started to cast out the demon that was in him and rebuked the spirit of drunkenness and he kept doing these lewd actions with his hands.
I told him that I wasn’t afraid of him and that the name of Jesus was a higher power than what was residing in him. I then told him in Arabic that God loves him. I looked him in the eyes even as he was lewd and said it two more times. I then stood up and he just turned around, stood up and walked off. I looked at the crowd and said, “Hey, if we don’t pray for him, who will?” Then our names were called for the xray.
So our boy got this cheesy little wrap around his ankle, not even an ace bandage and we were sent home. I went back today to insist on a cast. We finally found the cast room, which was this beat up little green wooden door in a dark foyer type room off of this dorm where the sick people were. We sat there for two hours just to learn that the cast guy, the only one in Yei, could not be located, not even by his family. So, you guessed it, we were sent home. The standard answer here, “Eh, you come back tomorrow” or “He is coming”. Unfortunately, the people so hate to disappoint you that they will tell you what you want to hear, even if it is wrong. Never ask for directions…… Meanwhile I am visiting a few of the patients that we prayed for last week and “making my rounds”. All these hospital visits were just more opportunity to stop for the one.
Earlier this week, as I was taking the toddlers for a walk, I had to smile at two of the smallest ones. They are always trailing in the rear and don’t walk very fast at all. They are only three years old. If I get more than two feet ahead, they start to whine. And so I slow way down, while yelling for the others up ahead to wait, “Wogi!”. Our roads are basically two tire tracks with grass growing in the middle. So, when we walk, we walk on one of the tire tracks. Sometimes I switch tracks because I want the two slowpokes to walk beside me. This particular walk, I noticed that every time I switched tracks, they would too.
They insisted on following my every footstep. There were places where there were rocks and small dips or rises and these two littlest ones would struggle to cross over the rocks and dips and rises just to stay with me. The rocks must have looked like boulders to them and the dips like valleys and the rises like hills. They never strayed from the steps I had walked before them. If the rocks were too much, they would struggle, and then I would go back to help them through it. They never once considered staying on the easier path.
It made me think about how it is when we exactly follow Jesus. There are these valleys and hills and rocks that we must travel over to stay with Him. If we follow Him, we can’t even consider the easier path. He is always looking back and helping us over the rough places. I could not possibly think about leaving these two to struggle alone, even though I had another infant tied to my back and it was a bit hot. I went slowly and I helped them, all the way to the finish line. I even lifted one little girl up so she could see over the tall grass that we were within sight of the compound and so don’t give up because we are there! So many times I have been tired and have wondered where the end of the line for that day was and then Jesus would lift me up so I could see over the tall grass to show me something and I would be encouraged yet again.
This week has been the week of fire, literally speaking. There is a well known prophet in America named Kim Clement who prophesied on his TV show about Sudan. A person who watched it transcribed it and sent it to our director here in Sudan and this is what he said word for word
The Sudanese were… I feel something about Sudan right now.
Where is Sudan? Sudan is… It’s below Libya? …ah it’s on the east coast. Just above Uganda.
Here’s the word of the Lord. And I want to prophecy this right now. And I say and I want you to listen to me. I feel something about Sudan. I feel like there is going to be South of Sudan, there is going to be a massive, massive move of the Spirit, where even Muslim people will travel from the North to the South and say, “What is happening there? What are the miracles that are happening in South Sudan.” We were once one nation but now we are two but God said, “even though you are one that became two,” God says “they shall become united, because there’s been control, corrupt leadership, Muslim powers have tried to dominate with Sharia law and bring in great evil,
But, I have a plan for Sudan. I have a plan for them” says the Lord. “I have a plan to move and to shift and to come into South Sudan and to do something that will reach into the North and even bring Muslims in where they will shout out”, “We want the Christ that you serve.” “I placed The Nile through the middle of you” and God said, “so that you could cross over and be together. And this is my word to you.” says the Lord, “I will bring about a move of my Spirit in Sudan which will reach and reach into the countries around them.” Says the Spirit of God. “And they will look and they will say “This is a country that is the largest in Africa and yet this country” and I’m speaking from the Spirit right now, “this country has now become the largest in terms of the propigation of the word of God and the miraculous.” God says “Sudan, I hear your prayers. Even those who have been persecuted and killed. I am going to come there and light a fire in the South of Sudan that will cause many to come into the kingdom and great news shall come from Africa. Great news shall come. They shall say, “there’s a fire burning! there’s a fire burning!” And God says “You will stand and you will say the Lord has done this great thing.”
We here in South Sudan are greatly encouraged! We received this word on Tuesday morning, which was just after a fire came so close to our compound on Monday night, that it was within 10 yards of our fence. On Wednesday, the director of Iris Sudan and I were talking about this prophesy again and how encouraged we were. I left her house and saw a huge fire on our compound. I started running and grabbed the guard who had also seen it and we went running and came upon this wall of fire. There were five of our guys already fighting it and so we grabbed some tree branches and started beating the bush. The fire went all the way to the road in front of our church and stopped right there! Nothing was damaged and no one got hurt. I got a small burn on my arm but no problem. The fire burned our grass but they would have burned it anyway for planting.
As I have seen many fires here now, I have learned something amazing about fire. At the hottest part of the fire, in the air above, the birds ride on the current of wind that is created by the fire. The very atmosphere changes where there is fire. A current is created, a wind that rises. In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit came as tongues of fire and there was the sound of a rushing wind. After the fire rested on those in the upper room, they were transformed and speaking in languages they did not know. Fire changes the atmosphere, it transforms the landscape. When fire comes, everything changes. There is a fire that comes from God that will change the very atmosphere of a place, a church, a city, a nation. The fire brings a wind of change and these places will be transformed.
The Lord gave me the name, “Friday Night Furnace”, for our prayer movement here at Iris Sudan. I believe that we will partner with God in bringing the fire of His Spirit into this region. Prayers are incense, they are smoke, going up to the very heavens. Change is coming. I am excited and encouraged!
I have also learned of an amazing tree that grows here in Sudan called the Moringa tree. It is very rich in vitamins and nutrients, as I told you in the last update. I have acquired some seedpods so we can plant many here on our compound. As I was sitting here thinking about drying these seeds, basically letting them die and get dry as an old bone before planting them, my mind started spinning again. It does that a lot J
I thought about how in America, every year at Easter, I would buy an orchid or iris plant and then when it started to wither, I would set it out on the back porch and never care for it. It would become nothing but dry dusty dirt in the hot summer sun and remain cold lifeless dirt in the winter. I didn’t shelter it or protect it. It just sat out there, through every season, in its plastic pot. And somehow, amazingly, right before Easter, it would come up from seemingly nowhere, and grow into a beautiful flower again. I thought about how I had to kill these Moringa seeds before I could plant them and then I would water them and make them grow into these amazingly rich trees, full of life and nutrients.
The kingdom of God is so upside down. The wise cannot comprehend it. It doesn’t make sense at all sometimes. A dead seed, a new tree, so full of nutrients bringing life to the desperately malnourished. Jesus, a Seed who had to die, bringing new life to the desperately malnourished and dying. God is simply amazing. I feel like I am doing somersaults sometimes because just when I think I am right side up, He turns me upside down again! He changes my thinking and opens my eyes to see things perfectly in the simplest of ways. Even a child……
Friday morning, I left for Morobo Payam to a village called Lukuja, which is about three miles from the Congo. Here in Sudan, counties are called payams. It took 3 hours to drive 37 miles. We stayed in the bush, way in the bush, where a new church was being planted. The church was a structure made of big tree limbs with tree branches as the roof and a grass floor and no walls. I was so honored to be the first preacher at this new church on Sunday morning. They were actually building the church while we were there. We stayed for three days and two nights, praying for the sick, discipling new converts and we also went on Saturday for street evangelism in the local market about 5 miles away. By the way the Congo is a lot cooler at night than where I live in Yei. I was actually cold because I didn’t think to bring a sweater or sleeping bag. In the mornings I would go and sit in what I call “the smoke house”, which is a mud hut that is used for cooking and storage and when the fire is going, the smoke lingers in the air and you basically get smoked, but it is very warm inside.
We prayed for three people on different occasions who had eyesight so poor that they could not see further than five feet in front of them. Their eyes were crossed also. Every one of them had their eyesight restored. We tested it before and after and had witnesses who knew them who agreed that God did a miracle this day! Before they could not see anything further than three steps away and now they can see the distant mango trees across the valley. They can describe what the man coming down the far end of the path is wearing. One of them could not read his Bible because he could not see very well up close. After we prayed we tested him and he was reading like there was no tomorrow! They were once legally blind and now they can see! Also a little girl who was crippled on her left side and had the same eye problem was brought to us. She was one of the three who could now see. And so we continued to pray for her leg to work and for her hand to straighten.
We prayed four times until we saw a change. Each time, we asked her to do something she couldn’t do before. She began stomping her left foot, which was weak and feeble earlier. She also began to straighten her crippled fingers, which remained curled before. God moved in power in her small body and brought hope. The mother was so very happy. And the little girl too J. She still has some weakness in her leg but she is much stronger today than she was yesterday. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead has raised her body up from the crippled place. It was a glorious weekend and we rejoiced as we drove home at all that God had done in that place and in the hearts of the people.
This is the last week of our Bible school and all will return to their villages on Saturday. I am excited to watch them being transformed right before our very eyes. God has really been speaking to me about transformation, but that will have to wait until next week! Again, thank you so much to all of you for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. Please, feel free to email me to say hello. I rarely hear from home because so many people tell me that they don’t want to encumber me with so many emails, and now I rarely receive any. I could never receive too many emails. Your lives are very interesting to me. Eighty percent of my life here is just everyday living, playing with children, sitting with the mamas. I like hearing about your daily lives too. Keep me in your loop because I miss being there too!