Greetings from Maridi and thank you for your prayers for us all here. I hope that you all had a wonderful Easter. We had a walk of witness with all the churches in Maridi – Catholics, Seven Day Adventists and Anglicans all witnessing together. Joy of our hearts!
If you haven’t yet seen the photos on Archbishop Justin Badi Arama’s Facebook page of the Vatican healing retreat for President Salva Kiir and his former vice president (now opposition leader) Riek Machar of South Sudan, well the Pope kissed their feet! Oh Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We have started work on the centre for Nodding Syndrome sufferers on land given to me by the Bishop. The state minister of health and a few NGOs, along with the Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS), have come together to get this going. It means that some of the 20,000 families affected can come to learn best practices in caring for their children (nutrition, mental and physical exercise, hygiene and medicine). However, we cannot start without the necessary medicine (especially anti-epileptics and anti-psychotics) so I am in touch with various agencies although they have other pressing commitments; please pray for us to get the meds we need.
Meanwhile, we have taken a leap of faith by getting the ground prepared, starting with a watchman’s hut and a fence. Phase one is assessing and treating walk-in patients. Phase two is outreach to patients who can’t get to town and phase three will have a dorm built for in-patients who are homeless or running around unsupervised. Some are chained or locked up all day because so many die accidentally while having a seizure (fit). For more information on any of this, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In other news, Chaima Christian Institute Maridi has finally become The Episcopal University Chaima Campus, after the launch at the Juba headquarters. It is so thrilling and amazing (albeit somewhat exhausting to be honest!) to see what can be achieved with so little money. With support from the UK, we have a kitchen and a small hostel built for students. The hostel is not finished yet but we had to put students in there anyway as the other tukles (mud huts) are falling down. All campuses are still responsible for their own financing and we are going to have to raise our fees enormously to the going rate and I wonder what effect that will have on the number of students. We have to do something because currently the fees aren’t even paying staff wages and the service staff in particular are practically volunteers, hoping for better times ahead.
Education is carrying on though, even if things are stretched. We have three students for each of our 10 computers; I have three students to a desk in my English class; the agriculture class is always popular and social work and development, as well as business, are finishing their second-year diploma class. We have one member of staff studying for a degree in Kampala and two doing their distance learning masters, which is vital for a university campus. The theology students are also doing well on their course and running devotions for staff and students. although I can’t bear seeing them so thin.
I think what we could really do with is a funding partner for Chaima for three years or so, similar to an organisational set-up that gives grants to educational establishments. Could you please pray for that? I am sure that they must be out there somewhere as we are fulfilling all of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (well all except the ones concerning the oceans!). If anyone out there knows who we could apply to, or could do a bit of research for us, then please let me know.
Our church, ECSS, moves on in Maridi. I am sure that all of us want to see love, joy and inclusivity as standard at our services. I know that many churches who have small missional groups within the congregations, groups that are praying and working in the field together, often have wonderful spiritual growth, growing closer to the Lord and sharing the Good News with more people.
I also understand the point of view of a church, which has possibly struggled with its identity for many years, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Those working for the church who have an education are thin on the ground here as so many leave when they have the opportunity to do so. It means that the ones who stay are hugely overworked and often don’t have time or energy for “new” or different ways of doing things. Please pray with us about that.
I was on Maridi FM radio last Sunday morning and I think it went okay. I kept it really simple and had a translator for every part, including the Bible reading and the prayers. I talked about Jesus talking to the woman at the well and we had a lot of people calling in afterwards, asking for prayer.
The Mothers’ Union have also started up a new class for those who don’t read and write. I started off doing it in Juba Arabic, as it’s so much easier teaching people to read and write in a language they’re familiar with. People started reading sentences straight away with the book I had for that but they want English instead. So with that in mind, I am now teaching in English. Please pray with me for this.
The main reason I am here is to encourage and I do that in a country where most people don’t have a proper roof over their head or enough food, never mind other essentials like medicine and education. I give you thanks for enabling me to be enabling.
Lots of love and gratitude in the grace of a loving, enabling God