Galatians 6:9: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Greetings from your brothers and sisters in Jesus in Maridi. I do hope that you are all well. I sometimes receive some of the main news headlines from the UK and know that it’s not been an easy time there politically. I also know that you are living in one of the best countries of the world so I hope that you’re not getting overwhelmed by the lies of the enemy.
Pray for peace
It’s also not been easy here in South Sudan. With the peace process, we seem to swing from a fragile hope to loss of all hope. Fighting has intensified in Yei State and Adar, up in the North East. The combatants are a mix of rebels, government army, the opposition army and armed civilians and the consequences have been felt across the whole country with the disintegration of infrastructure, etc.
Pray for infrastructure
Our driver Andrew felt that road security was good enough to risk taking the Land Cruiser out for a service, since it hasn’t had one since I started caring for it. I flew to Arua in Uganda and Andrew drove but it took him three days driving through mud to do what is normally a one-day journey (it also took a month to get the car fully serviced). In the meantime, I had travelled to Kampala for my visa before flying onto Juba where I met Andrew and drove back with him to Maridi.
Our party – Andrew, his wife who had needed an ultrasound scan in Juba, my watchman Matthew who had never before travelled outside of Maridi, his sister who was a refugee making her way back home with her baby, and me – left Saturday morning. We arrived back two days later, having spent a night in the car which was still deep in mud and a night at a lodge that turned out to be a junkyard (I only discovered this in the morning). At one point we had to cross over a waterfall as the bridge was down. Thankfully, Andrew knew the way and without hesitation drove across allowing me no time to be scared (although plenty of time to pray!).
As we travelled, we saw a road that was littered with goods lorries which had got stuck. Everyone was helping everyone in any way they could (we were even given a plate of fried rice and onions from one of the drivers) and people were digging, dragging, pulling, pushing, whatever it took, to get the vehicles out of the mud (and I mean literally pushing – and succeeding!). These journeys naturally push the price of goods up, which increases food insecurity.
However, nearly everyone here is food insecure. We have an NGO called Save the African Child, which gives out enriched peanut paste to youngsters; this stops them dying but it isn’t enough to make them healthy. The inflation rate has fallen considerably from 400 per cent to 25 per cent but the fall-out from the civil war means that wages are a drop in the ocean compared to rising costs such as medicines which are now unaffordable. However, you can’t give up and throw in the towel, because life goes on. Thank God for getting us all back safely and for our car, which should keep going for another five years as the work horse of the diocese.
Give thanks for our faith
One of the sermons I preached not long ago was on “keeping your cross balanced”. It means that we shouldn’t be so weighed down with the woes of the world that we forget the Good News or so overjoyed with the blessings of our lives that we forget the struggles of the oppressed. It’s remembering to be content and grateful for our lives and yet also remembering the plight of those suffering. But many people here do live out the gospel, getting up in the mornings and giving thanks to God for everything and living their lives in dignity with grace and generosity.
Pray for the end of the Ebola outbreak
As Ebola is seemingly out of control in DRC next door, everyone here is on high alert. However, so far our prayers are being answered. The efforts of many NGOs are paying off it seems and there have been no reports of contraction here.
Pray for Chaima
Chaima has just begun a new semester. Student numbers are down, again because of the economy, but we continue to pray and trust God. We’re still praying for a crisis grant to help us through this particularly difficult period. The management team have all drawn closer together recently as we realised that we had all been struggling alone in some sense, although it’s created a sort of blitz mentality where we all pull together with renewed hope.
The Nodding Syndrome project has also taken a swing in another direction and I’m hoping that the NGO AMREF are going to take the lead on treatment as well as on research.
I’m going to Nzara on Saturday for the instillation of the new bishop there, a five hour drive. Andrew has already gone on ahead and taken the cathedral youth band and choir and hopefully they will come back refreshed from the change and joy of sharing with other youths.
So once again I thank you all for your prayers and financial support and I remember you all in my prayers every day.
With love and joy in the Lord