Finally! I had made it to South Sudan. The place I have been praying for and longing to visit for so long. I had heard so many horrific stories of tribal wars, abusing of women, destruction of villages and literally entire tribal groups running for their lives. Now as we drove into the village of Lohutok, I was shocked by the normalcy of life there. Several men and women greeted us as we came into the compound. There was no sign of trauma or crisis in these precious South Sudanese people. These were kind and generous people who were being sustained in their village by farming, teaching and trading.
I was grateful to be traveling with my brothers from the states, Richard Ramsey, Outreach Pastor - North Metro Church and Scott Busby, Catalyst For Africa - Board Member. We were graciously hosted by one of the most culturally sensitive missionaries I’ve ever worked with, Andrew Fitzpatrick of Wycliffe Associates.
I could not help but notice one man when we finally sat down in the courtyard. It was evident that he didn’t feel well. Philip was very old and slumped over with his head down wearing a simple white t-shirt and trousers. His slippers
were off and just in front of his feet. That is what captured my attention, his feet. They were ashy, white, dry and very calloused. All I wanted to do was rub some of the homemade shea butter that I brought on those tired, worn out feet. I got up and went to my room and rifled through my bag until I finally found the cream. I came back and sat down just in front of him and simply put one of his feet up on my leg and began to rub the shea butter up and down those ashy, hard feet. He didn’t refuse me or back away
or even think I was crazy. He just sat there silently and after a few moments he said, “That feels nice.” I loved that he allowed me to do this for him, to let him know that he mattered, that I was concerned about his health and expressed my thanks to him by rubbing his feet. Later I found out that he was one of the key leaders in helping to translate the New Testament into Lopit. We spent two days in that village celebrating the first translation of the Lopit language in the New Testament thanks to the faithful translators from Wycliffe Associates. We also loved leading a one day Catalyst For Africa leadership conference. We built relationships with several men who are serving Christ in many areas in South Sudan. We were deeply moved by some of the stories that had made the news of people running for their lives from the capital in Juba and the Nuba Mountains, hiding in the forest and going for days without food or water.
The next day we flew to Kakuma, Kenya. We witnessed thousands of displaced people living in a UN camp with tarps for walls and roofs of tin. The refugees rely on the once-a-week food rations. Unexpectedly, the South Sudanese believers greeted us with songs and celebration. The children sang and danced. It was like a heavenly escort. What a humbling privilege to spend several hours teaching and listening to 30-key leaders from the refugee camp. They shared their insights on Catalyst For Africa’s four core values.
As we were preparing to leave Kakuma, our pilot, Chris, heard about a young Turkana student, Emmanuel, who had been shot in the leg 3-weeks earlier by an expelled student at a secondary school in Lokichogio. Tragically, six students died in the shooting, but Emmanuel was spared. His condition was deteriorating and needed medical attention. We were able to airlift him to a mission hospital within hours. The doctor was able to save Emmanuel’s life, but not his leg. Our team had the opportunity to pray with him and his sister before his operation. By God’s grace he is recovering well and confident God has a plan for his life!
God was so faithful as we traveled hundreds of miles by air and by road ministering and being ministered to by amazing followers of Christ in South Sudan and Kenya. Thank you for partnering with us in this great work. We could not do what we do without you.
Together, we are changing the world in Jesus’s name, one relationship at a time.