By Reuben Meriakol – Pokot Outreach Ministries, South Sudan
Caring for the sick is one focus of our ministry that has a great potential to impact lives. It is our prayer that in the coming years, God will enable us to develop and build this to a better operational level. For now, we respond on a needs basis to cases in different villages.
We praise God that darkness cannot overcome true light, though it tries to resist. In February, there was a seriously sick boy called Mark in Loragae. He was suffering from malnutrition complications, malaria, and typhoid. His parents took him to witchdoctor and paid three bulls, believing that Mark’s health would be restored. To the contrary, the sickness persisted, and they were on the verge of despair. Our veteran evangelist, Martha Lokale, resides close by. Martha learned what was happening and went to visit the family. She shared her belief in Jesus and His healing power. She then told them of many people who have prayed and sought medical attention from the hospital. His parents allowed her to take him for treatment. When Mark returned from the hospital healed, the news was received with gladness and openness of heart. The village has opened its doors for anything else the church was ready to offer.
Our COVID-19 Response
The first time we heard about the coronavirus, we thought that it was a mere flu that would not cross international borders. In March, East African countries announced measures to curb the spread of the disease. School and religious gatherings were banned, and movement restricted. When I made the announcement to our church in Kapoeta, it was the biggest surprise of the decade. No one ever imagined Sundays without congregating together. We took all necessary steps to comply and began to monitor the greatest needs of the people in order to respond to the best of our abilities.
Over 75% of the people in the villages heard about COVID-19 for the first time from our team. They were grateful that we were concerned about them. We were able to distribute soap and detailed hygiene pamphlets. Because there were not enough soaps for everyone, the believers began to split and share the 1kg bar of soap with their unbelieving neighbors. As a result, over 3,400 households received the soap. This act of generosity caused many people to sit and listen to the gospel message that was being presented by our teams, and 38 people gave their lives to Christ!!
We feel compelled to have another two-fold response as the effects of the disease continue.
• Food relief for the most vulnerable – Many people live in poverty, but it is those who are most affected in this time and would likely face starvation if there were no intervention. We wish to intervene in a way that the most vulnerable families will have food for at least one month. Our desire is to have food reserves in our hubs to be distributed on a needs basis to the most vulnerable. It takes $25.50 to feed a family of six for one month.
• Seed distribution – This is the most exciting and sustainable means to help the population feed themselves for several months. We are towards the onset of rains, and we pray that this year we will have sustained rains that can aid agricultural production. With restricted movement, families may use most of their time to work on their farms. Most soils of southeastern South Sudan are fertile and need no additional artificial fertilizers. The most important crops for the general population are corn and sorghum. Our ministry would therefore like to distribute corn and sorghum seeds for as many families as possible in order for them to plant at least half an acre each.
We see three important components in this project:
• Food security – If seeds are distributed timely, then many families will have food in their granaries that can last for as long as a year and until the next planting season. This will be a way of encouraging the people to take charge of their food security going forward.
• Experimenting with seed types – There are several seed types available in Kenya which have yet to be tried in South Sudan. These are types of seeds meant for low altitude, hot temperature climates,which receive short rains in most cases and may give high yields. We will try three to four new seed types on a few farms to see if production is better.
• Scattering The Seeds Of Hope – This will be the name of the program. Just as we did in the awareness and distribution of soap, we wish that this exercise is not just going to be like other philanthropy, but every opportunity shall be used to scatter the seeds of good news of our Lord Jesus. We wish to use this physical means to point to the deeper and hidden spiritual things vested in the gospel. It only takes $9 to provide seeds for one family to grow food for almost one year.
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