By: Reuben Mariakol
“When I went to southern Sudan about six years ago, I saw people whose dreams and livelihoods were shattered by war. I saw the returning refugees that had fled to different camps in East Africa come back to their country with great anxiety and agony in their hearts when they thought of how to resettle.
I saw spiritual drought and vacuum in the lives of many returnees. Muslims were propagating their Islamic faith, as well as African traditional religion, which is predominant in Africa, were trying to fill that vacuum.
Many organizations were coming in at that time to help the humanitarian situation but many still asked where the preachers were? We therefore felt challenged to do something.” – Remarks by Rev. Julius Murgor of Pokot Outreach Ministries (POM).
The above introductory remarks are actually the cradle of the upcoming mission in South Sudan. While Julius, along with Harvesters partners, was praying for several needs of the Sudanese people, God was already answering their prayer and was in His sovereignty preparing us for the upcoming ministry in South Sudan.
POM realized our calling to ministry and took the burden of paying for our education at Scott Theological College. I join Scott in 2005 and Loice, my wife, joined a year later. I studied theology with a major in Missiology. Loice studied the same with an emphasis in Christian education. We were, therefore, adequately trained for mission work and practice.
In college, God united our hearts and we always felt that God had a special assignment for us. I realized that Loice has a special calling for cross-cultural mission work just as I do. What God kept our hearts to expect a special assignment from Him has finally come.
In 2008, I was sent by the college to South Sudan for a three month internship on mission experience and practice as a requirement for my mission courses. The three months opened my eyes to several realities that Julius mentioned above. While I was still in college and after graduation, I was praying for Sudan, but did not think of serving there any time soon.
During my visit there in early 2012, and upon Julius sharing with me what POM and Harvesters had been praying for, my burden to labor for God’s kingdom in this new country grew very strong. I began to see all my experiences anew. I saw that our calling to ministry, four years of college training, three months of mission experience in southern Sudan (learning Juba Arabic and acquainting myself with the country and the people), God bringing Loice, were all meant to prepare us to serve in Sudan.
I know that the upcoming mission is a result of the prayers of many Christians whose spirits resonate with God’s will and divine plan of making disciples of every nation. South Sudan is a country that has suffered for many years from one the most severe civil wars in Africa.
There are many who, as a result of the war, are maimed, orphaned, widowed, and hopeless. Many are sick spiritually, emotionally, socially, physically, and are faced with enormous challenges. It is, therefore, a time to pray, just as other missionaries prayed; that “God, let our minds be minds that you think through; let our voices be voices that you shall speak through; let our hearts be hearts that you will love through; and let our hands be hands that you will help through.” It is our prayer that as we all partner to present Jesus Christ as the only hope to the new country that was born out of bloodshed.
When Jesus was on earth, he met the needs of his hearers holistically. He first met the spiritual need by forgiving then of their sins and told them to believe in him as the only way, the truth, and the life. This should also be our primary task in the mission field. We will present Jesus Christ as the only hope to fill the God-shaped vacuum in every person’s heart.
Jesus, however, did not command us to just make converts, but disciples. A disciple is a believer who has put his undivided trust in God, having count the cost of following Jesus and constantly overcomes sin and the temptation of falling back.
There is always a challenge of falling back to idolatry and belief in traditional African religions. They seek solutions for their problems from spirits and powers of darkness.
Finally, a disciple is a believer who lives in the power of the Holy Spirit and feeds on God’s word for his growth, not by outward constraint, but by inward compulsion. This is the kind of Christians that we envision in our ministry.
Jesus also healed those who were tormented by spirits. He healed those who were physically sick, accepted and welcomed social outcasts and restored their image by grace. He also fed the hungry. Jesus is seen as a loving, merciful, compassionate, gentle, and caring savior.
Our second task is to help mitigate the problems and challenges facing the people in the spirit of Jesus in practical ways that will give them an opportunity to experience His working just as he did in his ministry on earth. This is by having programs that will speak to the hearts of orphans, widows, children, and adults who are suffering from diseases, some of which can be prevented through improved hygiene and diet.
Many people whose hearts were broken as a result of the war are left with scars that constantly remind them of their sore past. Some are conditioned to that hard life; they need someone to listen to them and to help them heal.
Loice and I have seen that this is the reason why God is sending us to the South Sudan.
We therefore welcome your prayers and support as we prepare to serve God in South Sudan as He makes provision.