>Still Following The Unpaved Road

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Summer has arrived in full force here in Sudan. The days are made bearable here in Yei as we have many shade trees and a fairly steady breeze blowing across the fields, which mostly lie barren as they wait for the spring rains to come. The nights are in the 90’s and we lay as still as possible so as not to exert much energy which then causes us to sweat, which we do anyways, sweat that is. We have no electricity and no fans or AC or even cold water to bring relief. The mamas sit out on the porches and talk late into the night, even after midnight, before going inside to catch a few hours sleep before the sun rises again.

Well, with all the heat and no rain, the ants are working overtime in their desperation to find water and food. Earlier this week I found ants trying to eat their way through one of my bottles of water, millions of them living inside the card board box that houses my bottled water! I got rid of them and then found some ants trying to find a way in through the screw cap! Then I had a still hot sweet potato sitting in a bowl, covered with a metal pot lid. I went to take my shower (bucket cup bath) and returned to find them invading my potato. I shook them off and rinsed with water and commenced eating my potato. It’s a daily battle. If I don’t toss out the excess water in my teapot and turn it upside down on my table, I will have village of ants swimming their way to oblivion in my teapot! And so our days march along to a steady rhythm of chasing the shade by day and capturing the stillness of night to cool our tired bodies and minds and serving eviction notice to the ants who inhabit our very lives.

I never cease to be amazed by the servitude and fortitude of the women here. Everyone helps everyone. Some of our mamas are building huts for their extended families to stay in and one of our workers is building one close by so she can be closer to us here at Iris. And so the ladies spend long days in the fields cutting elephant grass to make the thatching for the roofs. These ladies work all day washing the children’s clothes, running after toddlers, doing needlework, cooking, tilling and planting entire fields, harvesting from fields and then they add the work of helping others. I am ever, ever humbled by their amazing hearts. They never seem to tire of doing good. They truly live the scripture in Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

We are in the last weeks now of our Revival Bible School. We have all grown so close and it will be sad to say goodbye two weeks from now as they return home to their villages across Sudan. Two of the men are from Darfur and I am so excited to be partnering with them when I eventually move up to that area later in the year. They are our door into Darfur and they are filled with the Holy Ghost and fire!

This week when we went to visit the hospital, we stayed longer than ever before and were able to really spend time ministering to individuals. I visited with Sunday, the girl who was stabbed in the back of the head. She was very alert, her eyes bright and shining, and fully able to converse with us. She seems to have no ill effect from the stab wound praise Jesus! She says her back hurts because the man punched her there really hard. Also her right arm is seized up where the muscles won’t relax and so her arm is always folded in half, her hand up by her shoulder. As we prayed for her, praying peace and the loosing of heaven upon her arm to loosen her muscles, slowly we were able to help her straighten her arm and her clenched fingers. We believe that she still carries a bit of the spirit of fear or terror and that is why her arm seized. We will continue to pray for her full recovery.

She has such an amazing believing spirit and is so resilient. All the children here are so resilient. You see big gaping wounds on their legs or feet, seriously, half their toe hanging by a sliver of skin, and they just go running along, never complaining. One of our boys sprained his ankle really bad and he never said anything until days later and was walking on it the entire time! It is huge swollen! I definitely don’t complain here. We just deal with stuff and move on. There is life to be lived and we don’t want to miss a beat!

Also, our girl who came last week who was found wandering in the jungle, well she isn’t the same girl anymore. She is being transformed before our very eyes. She smiles all the time, she holds our babies, she tried to help crack peanuts and bath and do as much as she can with her still weak hands. She is being healed inside and out and it is such a peaceful feeling knowing that Jesus is with her all the way. His touch is so amazing. The Presence of the Lord fills the dirt playground and the concrete huts and the mud hut kitchen here. His peace lives here and we are very much aware and in tune with Him. And I know that it is the children who usher in His Presence.

Every night they sing and worship in the dark before bed and every morning they awaken the dawn with their praises. No adult tells them to do this. They just do it because it is in their hearts to do it. I can never say enough about their servant hearts and I learn from them daily. Come to me as a little child and you will see the kingdom of heaven. Learn from them. I do daily. And when they throw rocks up into the mango trees, they still offer me the best mango. I am undone!

Here are some testimonies of the things we have been a witness to as we go on outreach. We have noticed a marked difference in the population of the hospital. When we first started the hospital outreach a month and a half ago, the hospital was full to overflowing. Now, there are many empty beds. The nurses and doctors have commented that they want us to continue coming and they even like for us to pray with them because they are seeing the power and the love of God as we minister. They are encouraged by what we are doing and what God is doing.

We went to visit some of our neighbors one afternoon and as we went to a hut, the man answered the door and said that he had a dream the night before that two men would come and bring healing for his family, which were all very sick. When he answered the door and saw two of our pastors there, he knew that his family would be healed. The pastors went in and prayed with them all and all were healed! Amazing!

Two other pastors went to a village bar and as they went in and sat down, they were asked if they wanted a beer. They responded that they didn’t want a beer but they did have some good news to share. They were given permission to share the good news and a lady came forth for salvation and when they saw her later in the week, she said she had been to church and not been back to the bar. The bar owner was happy for the message.

A lady was in the hospital with her baby who hadn’t eaten in a couple of days and was very weak and feverish. Our team prayed for her and the baby. They asked the woman if she went to church and knew the Lord. She said she left off going last year and they said she should go back to the Lord and healing was waiting for them both. The baby immediately suckled at his mother’s breast after prayer. He was eating again!

A man in prison says he was falsely accused of murder six years ago and has been there ever since. He had pain all over his body and his head always hurts. We talked to him about forgiveness and he forgave his accuser. Then we prayed for him and all the pain left his body, even his head. He received the peace of the Lord.

We came upon a lady in the hospital who had such back pain that she could not move. We prayed for her and asked if she could move. She tried but was still in extreme pain, not even able to lift her head. We talked with her about if there was someone in her family that she was fighting with as I felt this was the case. She said that yes her daughter beat her a few days ago in a drunken rage and that is why she was in hospital. We talked with her about forgiveness and to pray for her daughter’s deliverance from alcohol and not to give up as we all had testimonies of praying years for family members who had been set free. We then prayed over her again and for her daughter. When we finished, this lady sat up on the edge of her bed by herself, where minutes before she could not move! Jesus brought the peace of forgiveness.

So many testimonies in just one week. I now know why Jesus said that all the books of the earth could not fit all the testimonies of what He does for us! It is so true. He is always moving and working and interceding and loving and bringing freedom wherever His name is cried. This week I taught the Revival School students about the reality of the kingdom of heaven. The reality within is what our reality without will be. What we believe and say amen to in our hearts has to be what we live in our surroundings. If we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus according to Ephesians 2:6-7, then we carry heaven everywhere we go.

Think about it. We carry heaven! Heaven goes everywhere we go! All we have to do is release it. There is so much power and force and richness in heaven. Jesus is seated there. Ha! We carry heaven! We carry so much and yet we hold it all in so many times. We are the gate of heaven. Lift up your heads O ye gates and let the King of Glory come in!!! We are the gate of heaven and people want in. We have what the world is looking for. We carry eternal life. We carry the promise of heaven, Jesus Christ. We carry hope. We carry love. We carry Him……… Open the gate.

Last night, I had just settled into my bughut with a good book and my headlamp when I heard the crackling of burning bush grass, seemingly right outside my window. I got up to investigate and found that our neighbors were burning their fields this night. The fire was right there next to our back fence line. All of us westerners came out to watch it. There are four of us here now and three of us (not me seriously) were nervous and anxious about it jumping our fence line. They even called the guards to come and make sure it was under control. I figured, they’ve been doing this for years and so they sort of know what they are doing?

After all the excitement died down I tumbled back into my bed and fell asleep to crackling bush and soon a heavy rain. I am ever amazed at how these people seem to know it will rain! There was not a cloud in the sky, not a one when the fire was started. I notice that they just seem to know. Hmmmm, how is it we know the signs in the sky and the weather but we fail to see the signs of the times, sometimes…. You know me, always finding a scripture to link to my life stories J!

This week I have made two airport runs to drop off and pick people up. It is so strange how our minds shift from one realm to another. I wasn’t even leaving the country and yet as I pulled onto the dirt airstrip, I had visions of stepping onto the plane and how immediately my reality changes. It’s like stepping out of the third world of Sudan knowing that we are now in the realm of modern civilization, where there is electricity and running water and stores and malls and television. Even though I didn’t physically get on that plane, I felt the reality shift just by being in close proximity to that plane and seeing it and remembering what it can take me to.

That is how it is with kingdom living. We live in the reality of a world full of chaos and problems and trials. But we know what the kingdom of heaven carries because we have been there. We have seen the realm of miracles and encountering Jesus in a tangible way. We carry this reality and as we remember it, our minds can shift from one realm to the other. We can step into the better reality. Yep, it’s pretty deep stuff huh?

This week I will be on the hunt for two goats and two sheep. Well, not literally on the hunt. We will buy them in the market of course. We have a female sheep and its baby and now we need a daddy to make more babies. Then, we are graduating the Revival School next Friday and so we will feast on BBQ goat and sheep (not the new daddy sheep of course)! Here in Yei, not many people roast goat and so I am also going to buy some heavy gage wire screen to make a BBQ rack and we will put some bricks to lay it on and some coal underneath and, whala, BBQ! Everyone is so excited for the soon coming meat because it is a rarity for us.

Also, I will be traveling down the road to Morobo, close to the Congo border. Michele, the director of Iris Sudan, and I are tagging along with one of our pastors from the Church of God to do a weekend evangelism visit. We will be doing open air church preaching under mango trees where there is no church. Although the village is not an unreached village, they are in need of the Lord and a church, and so we go. Very exciting. We will be camping in a tent and no showers and eating village food and such. Life is never boring. It is what we decide to make of it yes? Although I often dream of AC and running water and real furniture and paved roads…… Ah, but the Lord is taking me down the unpaved road for now and so I follow Him.

Until next week, bless you!

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