This week ends with the news that a cease fire was signed between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. President Kiir is now encouraging all refugees to return home. On the ground it is a different story. Refugees will not move from their safe havens. They know that a ceasefire really means nothing until this political/tribal problem is solved and so the nation is still living under an air of tension and even fear in some places. Things always look good on paper but reality is what it is. We continue to pray that these differences between these two men and these two tribes would be solved and hearts and lives mended. We here in South Sudan know that this is far from over and we continue to pray and worship our God.
This week found me still running back and forth to the hospital with sick kids. Seems that there is a very persistent malaria strain that can only be rid of through a quinine drip (IV) whereas before our malaria tabs would work just fine. Still, I refused to accept so much sickness on our base. We even have three girls in the same house with some kind of infection in their bodies that is causing their legs to swell. Monday I locked myself in my house and refused to budge until I got a word from the Lord. He gave me Exodus 23:25-30:
“Worship the Lord your God and His blessing will be on your food and water. I WILL TAKE SICKNESS FROM AMONG YOU…. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.”
I left my house declaring this and reminding God that we have been worshipping Him each and every day and we believe His word. I wrote this scripture on the whiteboard that hangs in the kitchen so our children could read it as they stood in line for their meals. I am teaching the children to believe in the power and the promise of the Word of God. I am even going from house to house anointing them with oil and declaring the Blood of Jesus around them.
That same night I was so surprised that all of the older boys were the first ones to show up for prayers. THAT was a first. It is difficult at times to even get many boys to want to come for just worship and prayers. I loved it because it was this night that I decided to anoint those who came early with the Rose of Sharon anointing oil before we worshipped. It is the Name of Jesus as the bridegroom, the beautiful One. They boys were very open to it. After worship we were walking back down to the main compound and found a pack of wild dogs among us fighting with our dog and chasing our goats again. The night before they killed one of our mama goats as she was in labor with her twins. These goats are the responsibility of the boys and they all ran after the dogs with rocks and sticks until they got them out of our gates. Finally all was quiet. Then an hour later I heard a loud commotion at the boy’s houses. They had just killed a black mamba snake that our dog had alerted them to. Don’t you know that the devil was so mad about these boys being first to worship and being anointed this night?
The next morning we also found out that one of our beloved house mamas had died in her village. She had been sick for a couple of months and had had health problems all year. She had gone to her village in November and I hadn’t seen her until last week when she was in the hospital. I allowed our staff to pile in our big tipper truck with many of our older children who were close to her to spend the day in the village with the family.
The Lord has really been speaking to me this week about trials and tribulations and the second part of the Exodus verse that He gave me. He sometimes drives our enemies out from before us little by little UNTIL we have increased enough to take possession of that which He is giving us. I think of my last five years here in Africa and how each year has been harder than the last and how I asked the Lord even last month, “When will I get rest?” The Lord spoke to me clearly through all of this. He gives most of us territories and anointing and positions and callings a little at a time as He prepares us to take possession of the entirety of a thing. He only gives us what we can properly steward and carry at that time. And He teaches us to do it from a position of rest.
All of this that we have been going through here at Iris South Sudan these last two months has been such a wonder to me. God has given me much peace through everything. He has been showing me that even though it seems total chaos, there awaits us an amazing rest as we go through it because of our staying so close to Him, abiding in Him through it all. I find myself sticking closer to God now than I ever did because I KNOW He has the answers I need and He is the help I need more than any other.
Even when things don’t seem to be going good, children sick, snakes all around, when you come to a place of total dependence and trust in God it is like as a child completely trusting its parent. There is no fear, no anxiety, only trust and being in a restful place. Last night I again encountered a snake within striking distance. I walked right in front of it thinking it a stick. It didn’t even move. I calmly called the watchman to bring a stick so we could whack it good. Then this morning at church one of our older girls spotted yet another snake where the children go to use the latrine. Four of our older girls killed.
God keeps showing me that His favor is upon us this season for His glory. All of us, the body of Christ, we are all highly favored of God and He chooses to highlight different people to us in different seasons to show His glory. Right now He is pouring out His abundance on these children He has entrusted me with. He is showing them His glory and His provision for them. It is wildly wonderful!
Again, many, many people and churches have been so faithful to us and to me and without ALL of these we could never do what we do together. I just want to highlight how God will send people that we have no idea how they found us to help us. He sets us up! He causes these things to happen, not by chance, but by design. I have been through many more trials in this last season than I care to even recount. In fact, as you can see from my updates, I still have many trials to face almost every day. I just keep hearing in my spirit the scripture that has always spurred me on. “When I return will I find faith?” Jesus asks this of us and I just cannot be the one who answers, “Sorry Jesus but I didn’t think You were gonna show so I picked another plan.” Before I came to Africa I used to have plan A, B and C. Here in Africa I am daily learning that Plan Jesus has to be my only plan.
The children and I are still gathering together for worship many nights and mornings each weak seeking God’s face with desperation. We have been singing a lot of “Rain” songs by Jesus Culture and other Christian artists and we even pass each other throughout the day saying, “I see the cloud coming! It’s gonna rain!” They/we REALLY believe we are going to see the rains of revival come to us and to South Sudan. I love their childlike faith so much. Every time we gather for worship they are just as passionate as the last time. I am so encouraged by this generation and pray that it is happening all over the world in churches and communities everywhere. It is our most fervent hope that we SEE the glory of God cover the earth, not just our little corner of it.