Monday, September 28, 2015

Prayer Letter: September 2015

“His brothers killed two of my brothers!” I listened in stunned silence as one of our students told me that the evening before, the brothers of his roommate, another fellow student, had shot and killed two of his brothers in a clash between two clans of the same tribe. There were many other casualties, five of whom subsequently died of their wounds in hospital.

Providentially, we were in the middle of a “Healing the Wounds of Trauma” workshop presented by SIL and the American Bible Society. I immediately got all the participants to sit down so that we could first of all tell them what had happened and so that we could pray. As I was praying, I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to get the two students to pray for each other, their families, and their respective clans. At the end of their prayers, the rest of the usually unemotional men present were weeping as well. Amazing love was expressed as each one reached out to each other as brothers in Jesus – a bond stronger than that of clan affiliation.

This was probably the most emotionally draining week we have ever experienced. It started with one student asking for permission to leave as his best friend was critical and not expected to survive the night – he died the next day from hepatitis. Following closely in the heels of this crisis, was the news that another participant’s mother had just died. The next day I received an urgent telephone call to say that one of our full-time students had been hospitalised and was critical. (This student is better now, but we have had to face the facts that he will never recover.) Then the clash…

But all through this workshop, we heard our students tell of their personal wounds of trauma. I know each of these men personally, and to hear them talk about the war – of being raped as boys, or seeing their mothers, sisters, brothers being raped, their fathers shot before their eyes, being taken away from their families to serve as child soldiers, and other horrors – as well as present painful events like the death of their infant children or the experience of being displaced and impoverished, was extremely painful for me. One of our part-time students, whose name means “the unwanted one”, wept as he told me of the curses heaped on him by angry fellow tribesmen for his being an Anglican priest. I prayed that the Lord would turn every one of those curses into ten-fold blessings. “Weep with those who weep,” Jesus counselled…surely listening, tears, hugs, love, and words of affirmation are the only appropriate responses one can give.

But, as the Psalmist says, “weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning”, I believe our students emerged from this exhausting week all the stronger for it as they experienced each other’s pain and prayed with and for each other. All I can say is thank you Lord for allowing us to be part of Your healing touch on these men at this time.

Please pray for the continued healing of wounds of the heart in our brethren in Gambella and South Sudan. We have really only begun to scratch the surface here. We will be hosting another spiritual healing event in October (SOMA-USA) and ask for prayers that there would be a deeper healing that takes place during that week. The same students will be present.

Our Bishop and SAMS Director have both counselled us to take time off soon so Louise and I are planning to go to Bahir Dar, a quaint town in the north, for a week in early October…the week before the arrival of the SOMA Team. I have wanted to visit a Bible College there and this will be a great opportunity to meet with the Principal and perhaps sit in a few classes. We also hope to visit a few of the historical sites in the area if possible.

We are also planning to attend the 16th Triennial consultation of the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education to be held in Antalya, Turkey, 6-11 November 2015. Many of the College Accreditation Agencies will be present and it is important for us to meet with them for the future accreditation of St Frumentius. There are also many useful workshops on oral learning and College Libraries that will be great to attend. We do ask that you will pray with us about this event and also prayerful consider helping us fund our flights and consultation fees.

Please continue to pray for the College and our students. We have eight full-time scholarships now and one part-time scholarship. We now have only 11 full-time students as one is seriously ill and another had to leave due to family pressures regarding financial support. Many men often support more than just the immediate members of their own families and his allowance was simply too small. However, they may continue to study as part-time students.

We love you all and appreciate you so much. While I know this sounds weird, there are times when we feel your presence with us as it is because of you that we are able to be here…we believe that you are as much part of this work as we are.

Thank you for being faithful to Him and His Kingdom.

Many blessings

Johann and Louise

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Introducing our Students: Ochalla Ochan Othow

Ochalla Ochan Othow is the son of one of the few remaining Presbyterian pastors trained by legendary Missionary to the Sudan and Ethiopia, Don McClure. Born on 21 February 1982, Ochalla followed in his father’s footsteps at an early age, and says he feels that he and his father are “the same to Abram and his son Isaac”. Currently he is the lay-leader of a Mission Centre in Abobo and already has several church plants under his belt. He is actively engaged in an outreach ministry to the previously unengaged Majenger tribe. Ochalla is married to Ariet Obang Akea and has four children, one daughter and three sons.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Introducing our Students: Chot Ruach Mot

Chot Ruach Mot was born in the small village of Nyandit in 1985. His parents were believers and raised him in the church. A long-time friend says that Chot has been active in the church since childhood and still today Chot is involved in ministry, mostly in the field of evangelism. His pastor says that whatever he gives Chot to do in the church, he does it well and, as such, has built up many good relationships among the general membership. He is a very serious student and very motivated to learn. Chot’s dream is to bring about change in the lives of his people through effective preaching and teaching. He also has served as a Primary School teacher at Pugnido Refugee Camp. He has a Diploma in History and Geography and in Business Administration.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Introducing our Students: Ajikune Ojaga Okony

Even though he grew up in a Christian family, Ajikune did not know the Lord Jesus. In his own words: “At age 16, when I saw a lot of my friends enjoying (the) night club, I made a decision to be pagan.” After a brief brush with the law, Ajikune “remembered the God of (his) family…and (he) made (his) own decision to follow God”. Now, he says, “I know what I’m here for.” Ajikune is the youngest of our students. He is only 22 years old. But he has a wisdom about him that is beyond his age. Whenever we go to a gathering of the Anuak, Ajikune is there serving in one or other capacity, whether it be leading the singing, playing the drums, helping put out the chairs, playing football (soccer) with the children, or putting up plastic sheets for shade. All who know him love him and many of the younger generation follow him. He is a servant leader, a bright student, and the joy of many.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Introducing Our Students: Nasir Kuyoch Chuol

At a very young age, Nasir was powerfully converted after attending a church service. In his own words, “When I first entered the church and found people singing and praising the Lord, my heart trembled and I started crying…I then prayed and I was told to attend Sunday School regularly…at that I time I accepted Jesus as my Lord.” Since then, Nasir has been involved in various Christian ministries such as Nuer Christian Youth for Peace and Development, evangelism, leading the youth and various choirs, and serving on the Church Council at St Luke’s in Gambella. He currently works as a guard at the Anglican Centre, is only 25 years, old and still single…quite a catch for a godly Nuer lass.