The focus of our ministry over the past year has been evangelism, church planting, the training and equipping of leaders, and education. Evangelism was done in our five hubs and was significantly boosted by the Jesus Film machines. Over 15,000 people were reached and almost 500 came to the Lord! Four churches and several preaching centers were established and 77 people were baptized. We have had exciting moments with training of our leaders.
Among those who were impacted by our ministry is a woman named Lokeno, who came to the Lord as a result of our evangelist and mission hub leader to Mogos, Eliya Lokuru. Lokeno, who is due to be baptized this month, was formerly an ardent believer of African Traditional religion, which is a belief in animism. Preoccupied by a fear of spirits and malevolent gods, they seek the comfort, protection, and priesthood of witch doctors. They believe that every sickness, catastrophe and calamity has a direct connection to the spirit world. Therefore, charms and superstition give physical assurance of the control of the spiritual world. Lokeno had beads, bracelets, pieces of skin ropes and other things worn on the wrist, waist, neck, and some put in the house as an expression of her belief in the occult. She followed witchcraft and occult teachings, but after hearing the good news, it dawned on her that there is a loving God who loves and cares for her, who is appeased not by traditional sacrifices and superstition, but by a pure heart surrendered to Him.
After hearing the good news of Jesus Christ, and of the love of a good and gracious God, Lokeno stripped herself of all connections to her former way of life, giving up her belief in animism, burning her bracelets and charms, and completely surrendering her life to the Lord! She is so excited about her new found faith, and her testimony is leading others to church. She always testifies to others about the goodness of Jesus and is leading others to Christ. We praise God for her!
The other evident impact that our ministry is causing is to children. With the excitement of showing the Jesus Film, along with joyful singing and child-friendly games, our ministry is attracting many children, both in the villages and urban centers. At our main hub in Kapoeta, we have over 200 children attending our weekly activities. These children are from various family backgrounds. Some have both parents, while others are partial orphans and a few are total orphans. Some are living in the home of friends and others are street kids. We had previously taken 13 street kids and sponsored them to go to local schools. A few were later taken to a boarding school by a church organization that has similar interest in children. There are three who are now staying in the homes of believers in Kapoeta. One is a Toposa girl called Napem, who was drawn from street life by the love of Christ through our ministry. Her former life was the business of collecting used water and soft drink bottles, which were sold very cheaply to retailers to wash in order to repackage their liquid products such as cooking oil, petrol, or liquid soap. This hard street life orients boys to abuse drugs and use vulgar language. Most become desperate and alcoholic. Girls usually follow the same route, but also became commercial sex workers at some point. We are happy that the trajectory of Napem’s life was affected positively the day she joined our community. We sent her to school for a year, but she found it hard to continue since she is in her early teens and still in grade 1. She lives in the home of a church member. We are still exploring how to help her learn a trade or skill that can help her be self-reliant. She is part of our community and joins all activities with the teenagers at our church. I baptized her in December. She asked me to give her a new name on baptism day, and I called her Ruth. We hope that she will live to tell the goodness of God. I can’t tell of the joy in our hearts whenever I see her, and the many other lives, affected positively.