South Sudan Clinic Nurse Arrested!
Just before leaving Nashville on March 13 to fly to South Sudan, I received an email informing me that four truckloads of almost 200 South Sudanese soldiers had arrived at our school in Pajok and immediately arrested John Jock, our clinic nurse.
They were searching for rebel soldiers. The civil war that has been going on in the northern part of South Sudan is essentially a conflict between the Dinka and Nuer tribes, and their reason for arresting John was that he is from the Nuer tribe.
My immediate thought was that for the first time, the trip was going to be a little dangerous. My next thought was that the South Sudanese Christians, and especially John, needed our support through any kind of trouble.
This is usually a peaceful area; and as a Christian, John would never have been involved in anything that could even be considered impolite to others. I didn’t want the Christians there to think that the Americans left them to suffer alone in times of trouble. However, I couldn’t tell anyone about this problem in advance because I would have been encouraged to not go.
The outcome of John’s arrest is proof of the good we are demonstrating to the community. John is held in such high regard that the Chief of Pajok and all of his staff went to see the commanding officer of the rebel soldiers and demanded John’s release! They bravely testified that John had been there for several years and that he had never done anything to deserve such treatment.
Village leaders also called the commanding officer’s superior to protest John’s arrest. As a result of their support, he was released, totally unharmed, just three hours after his arrest! The fact that we are known for our good works in Pajok was clearly demonstrated by the support of God and the community when it was seriously needed.
Goals of This Trip
The purpose of this trip was to be sure that the Lord’s work in South Sudan is moving forward, and we found many encouraging signs.
(1) We know of at least 17 who were baptized in the Pajok area while we were there.
(2) The construction of the new clinic and maternity ward is progressing smoothly. The rafters on the roof were going up, and we saw evidence of quality work. The ontractor says the building should be finished by the end of April.
(3) At the Sunday morning service, I was initially bothered by the absence of several. I asked where Isaya was and was told he was in another village preaching that morning. I asked about several others and was also told about the villages where they were preaching that day. My concerned feelings turned to joy! This is our goal–spreading the gospel throughout South Sudan.
(4) At the same service, I realized the audience was slightly smaller than it had been in the past. Why was the attendance down, I worried?
When I asked about this, I was told that there are now four congregations in Pajok instead of just one. People who used to be in this service are now worshipping in other new congregations scattered throughout Pajok, which has a population of nearly 60,000. Since many are not able to walk long distances to services in our original location, three new churches had been planted around the city. Again, I was overjoyed to see such growth!
New Evangelism Activity
While we were there, members of the campus congregation, along with our preaching school students canvassed an entire area where another congregation is needed with news of a coming “gospel” meeting. A preaching service would be held each evening just before dark. Then at dark, “The Jesus Film” was shown in their Acholi language on a large white sheet with the projector and speakers powered by a solar battery.
This project met with great success as 65-75 showed up the first night for the preaching service, and the movie drew nearly 200. This number grew to between 400 and 500 by the fifth night! We’ve already seen another baptism from this meeting, and seeds were planted that will yield many souls in the future.
Preachers Support Themselves
Since we have a policy of not providing financial support to the graduates of the preaching school, we feel an obligation to try to help them find ways to provide for their families and have time to be evangelistic too.
Another new method we are using to teach the lost is renting a small shop space on the main street of Pajok with a large sign advertising “Christian Literature Center.” Tim Brumfield helped the preacher selected to add to the shop a charging station powered by solar panels.
People come to this shop either because of their interest in Christian literature or their need to have a battery recharged, but the preacher always acquaints them with the Bible course while they are there. This is a correspond-ence Bible study in their language except that it is returned in person. The preacher grades it, discusses any missed questions, and gives out the next lesson.
The first preacher chosen for this project is a young married man with two children. He had been teaching English in a primary school. The first day the charging station/Christian Literature Center was open he charged 16 cell phones, battery power lights, hair clippers, etc., and he is already making more money than he was getting as an English teacher. Best of all, he is teaching the Bible while doing so! We plan to encourage other graduates to earn a living with similar shops.
Although this was an extremely busy trip for Tim and myself, it was also very productive. God is richly blessing His church in South Sudan.
by Don Humphrey