This week has found me so busy with farming and ministry. I am so excited as I am seeing my lettuce starting to grow! Unless you’ve been without salads for months on end like I have, you could never understand how very important this is for us. We are planning a dinner party around the harvesting of these lettuce plants!!! Haha, so funny but still, so excited.
This weekend I gathered all of our 16-26 year old kids and staff and we watched the most excellent DVD called Peter and Paul, which I purchased from The Family Christian Store on Military Hwy in San Antonio, Texas. It is the book of Acts, starting from when Stephen was martyred and Saul becomes Paul, and ending with the martyring of most of the disciples. It was almost four hours long so I split it into two nights. I have never been so encouraged in my faith from watching a DVD as I have from watching this one. Even the group I gathered, they want to see it again in its entirety.
We talked about how Paul, in the face of much adversity, refused to stand down, even to the new church in Jerusalem. Paul heard from the Lord and he wasn’t going to let man change that word, not even the leadership that God had put into place. Paul always respected his authority over him but he never backed down on things that he knew he heard from the Lord. This film was so perfect for this culture in South Sudan. The leaders of the church are still very religious and, yes they still do lord it over their people, expecting the seats of honor, the best food, and even people looking the other way when blatant sin is committed by such leaders.
We are teaching our young people here to stand firm in the things of the Word of God, whether written in the Bible or heard within their own spirits and ears. Today, as we missionaries met together and soaked together I kept hearing, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” and the phrase, “the changing of the guard”. We are seeing things in our churches where the old ways of these leaders who have been honored because of their office, regardless of their unrighteousness, are about to change. All of us feel that there will be a changing of the guard, and it is soon coming. The Lord is looking for a pure and passionate people who will not look the other way when unrighteousness is in the camp.
I am reminded of the life of Moses. He sat face to face with God and God even called Moses friend. Moses did so many amazing things and walked perfectly with God. Moses even put his life on the line and his salvation to save the nation. Moses had a pure heart and loved God. Then one day Moses smote the rock, not in the Lord’s name, but he took the honor upon himself. God still used Moses and still loved him as much as He ever did. But, when the time came for the nation to step into their promise, Moses was not allowed to lead them. The next generation brought about the fulfillment of the promise of freedom.
It is the young Joshua’s whom the Lord is calling to now. The Deborah’s are also being called to positions of leadership and authority, those who would walk in purity and righteousness, no matter the favor and honor bestowed upon them, nor the adversity set against them. Right here at Iris we have two such righteous young men. Each of them have been involuntarily put into situations where the motives of leaders were corrupt and unjust. These two young men have remained honorable and pure, even though they were being prodded to participate in these unrighteous things. I am so proud of them and they are the emerging new leaders of the body of Christ that the Lord is calling to.
I say all this to encourage the western world that it is not a lost cause with our young people. The corruption in third world Africa is so rampant that it is expected at every turn. It has put us on the defensive, as if we always expect to be messed over or cheated in some way. If young people can still rise up in a nation such as these, surely the west has so much more hope. I do have to say though that our children are very sheltered from worldly influences. It is always a work in progress. We minister all the time to these children, constantly reminding them of their great destinies and how they have a very important position in the end times plans of God. We take every precaution to keep them from negative TV, DVD, and musical influences that are not constructive or conducive to their upbringing as to right and wholesome living. It is a lot of work but it pays off. Train up a child in the way that he should go and he will not depart from it.
People spend a lot of time and energy on their businesses and their investments and even their entertainment or leisure activities. They do everything they can to ensure the security and success of these things. How amazing would it be to put this kind of focus on the greatest investment that could ever be made, our literal future, our children?
Sunday found me preaching in a small village church about an hour’s drive from our town of Yei. I looked at the clock right as we left because I had to be back by a certain time to lead a Bible study that same afternoon. It was 9:00 a.m. We arrived at the little church at 10:00 a.m. We were greeted with pitchers to wash our hands, bottles of water to quench our thirst, and plates of fresh cooked sweet rice to fill our bellies. All of this before the service even started. This is normal hospitality in most of Africa. I preached about Paul’s amazing faith of course because it was so fresh in my spirit and I feel such a conviction in my spirit to bring this message to the church. All is done in a very encouraging manner of course. Those who come to hear me speak when I come to the USA know this to always be true with me. No matter the message, God always encourages us.
We danced and worshiped the Lord and every church I have been to always gives time for two or three testimonies before the message is preached. Again, this is to build up the faith of the people and encourage the body of Christ that our God is always doing something amazing for us and in us. Every time a testimony was give, we would sing and dance again! So much fun, although I was beginning to wonder how much longer my calves would hold out before they started mooing for rest!! After the message we called forth those who wanted salvation and/or healing. Then we remained sitting as the church ladies brought in lunch for everyone! Again, a normal practice when a visiting speaker comes to a church. These people will spend their very last pound to make sure their guests are satisfied. They all have so little to give and yet they give it all for the honor and glory of God. Again, I always pray that I can be as giving as they are. I practice it every day, always finding ways to give, whether of myself or my time or my things. We always have something to give.
This week I encountered two drunks in the market place and I reacted differently with each of them. The first guy was walking, er staggering, through the market as I am very slowing riding my motorcycle through the busy street. This drunk reaches out and yanks my handlebars, almost causing my bike and me with it to crash to the ground. I was so shocked and a bit angry. I looked at him as I tried to remain upright and yelled at him, “Are you crazy!” and I rode off. I felt bad later because he was just a drunk. Calling him crazy just spoke a curse against him, not helping matters.
The very next day I was in the market buying mandazi, which are like doughnut balls. I buy them each week for all of the children at Iris, as their weekly treat. A drunk walked up to me and was begging me to give him some. I tried to ignore him. He reached into the basket and took two of the,. The two ladies slapped it away from his hands. I told the lady to go ahead and give him four and I would pay for it. The man took them and left quietly. About two minutes late the man came back and said to me, “Mama, God bless you. Mama, thank you, thank you.” And he raised his hands to heaven. I smiled at him and told him, “Jesua hibu ita”, Jesus loves you. This man was touched by the Lord. Drunks never come back to say thank you, never. He did. I was so glad I responded to him a bit more positively than I did to the guy the day before.
There is a young man who washes vehicles for a living at the nearby dam that we have to cross each day when we go into town. His name is Daniel and he is so very nice. His mother was once a famous singer in Sudan but has since turned to the bottle and sings no more. Daniel is handsome, cheerful and outgoing. He also drinks much. He asked me a few weeks ago to take him to America. It is always the request here from us. I told him it is not just that easy. He then asked me to teach him proper English. He speaks English very well and I told him so. He said he wanted to speak it proper. I have given him a book to read so he can practice aloud. I now make it a point to stop each time and talk with him and encourage him.