Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting to know you. . . .

As I mentioned in my last Monthly Memo, God has led us to Akot to begin unfolding Mango Ministries.  I thought it would be a good idea if we were to get to know more about Akot and the people who live around this small town.    Akot is located
in Lakes State, one of ten  States in South Sudan  - with a state
 population of approximately 696,000.  It is the size of Maryland and Delaware combined - only without any paved roads and certainly no I-95!   The population of Maryland and Delaware is 6,500,000 or roughly ten times that of Lakes State.  The Nile River lies on the eastern border of the State. 

The predominant ethnic group of South Sudan are the Dinka and they inhabit Lakes State.  They own cattle, that are kept in cattle camps,  and grow their staple food crop - millet.  There is a six month long rainy season followed by a six month long dry season.  

The Dinka are noted for their height.  A notable Dinka is Manute Bol who played for the NBA from the mid-80's to the mid-90's.  At 7'7"  tall he was an impressive blocker!  

The Dinka are historically animist with many converting to a nominal Christianity during the last century when missionaries came and began ministering.  The Bible has been translated
into Dinka but one hindrance to it's impact is a low literacy rate.  It is estimated that only 5 percent of the population can read.  There are several evangelical churches throughout the region but with minimally trained leadership.  The impact of the church in the life of the village is negligible.  They are very expressive people and worship services are lively with vivacious music, drums and dancing.  

If you're looking for summer reading recommendations and would like to learn more about the Dinka of Sudan I'd recommend any of the following:
  • What is the What by Dave Eggers
  • God grew tired of us: A memoir by John Bul Dau and Michael S. Sweeney
  • They poured fire on us from the sky: the story of three lost boys of Sudan by Benjamin Ajak, Benson Deng, Alephonsian Deng, and Judy Bernstein
  • Lost Boys of Sudan:  An American Story of the Refugee Experience by Mark Bixler
Hopefully as you know more about the area we are headed to and the people who live there it will make it easier to pray specifically for transformed hearts and lives.  

A few prayer updates:
  • Reuben leaves Werkok today and flies back to Kenya tomorrow.  After two months in Sudan he's ready for his R&R!  Pray he will have safe travel and a good time catching up with his family.  
  • Dr. Martin arrived in Werkok a week ago and is transitioning into the work at the hospital.  There is a shortage of medicines and I told him we'd pray for a miracle like the loaves and fishes to happen with the medicines.  A shipment of medicines is in the works but is not there yet.  He also said there are lots of scorpions!  
  • Fighting with the neighboring tribe, the Murle, around Werkok has escalated in the past week.  Let's pray for peace and safety of all.  
  • Continue to pray for the Mango Ministries Team God is bringing together.  
  • Pray for our plans of initiating work in Akot - that God will guide us each step of the way.  Pray for hearts that want to see God's Kingdom come to Akot and a willingness to work together towards that with us. 
Thank you for making this journey with me!


Friday, June 5, 2009

Team Meeting

Dear Team,

I was lying in bed last evening.  Not necessarily wanting to lie in bed - but needing to be in a low impact activity for the evening to allow continued healing for my back.  God shared this with me to share with you.

I have been reading and studying Esther in recent days.  Last night I was rereading a book that mentioned Nehemiah and I was reminded of how these two books and people are similar.  

Esther and Nehemiah were both involved in a mission bigger than themselves.  What they were about was not selfish, but it involved God's plan for the people of Israel.  The book I'm reading* is about creating your personal or organizational mission statement and also developing a vision statement.  As I thought about Mango Ministries I think our vision can be boiled down to, "We want the Sudanese to know Jesus and see Him transform their lives."

The second thing Esther and Nehemiah have in common is that they had found favor from their Kings.  

Esther 2:17 says ". . . and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins."  Nehemiah 2:8 says, ". . . And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests."     

Esther and Nehemiah had a goal that was bigger than themselves.  They also found favor with their kings who then granted their requests.  

My desire is to have a goal that is much bigger than me.  Something I can't accomplish on my own - something God will have to do.  In a recent TV show an FBI investigator says to a teenager who had been caught trying to bring down a bad guy, "So, you want to be a hero?" To which the teenager looked him in the eye and said, "Don't you?"  We all want to make a difference and bring down the bad guy.  In Sudan poverty and war have been the bad guys.  They have wracked the people for long enough.  With God's transforming power that can change.  But that’s much bigger than me or even us.

So let's focus on finding favor with the King of Kings.  

And then let's come boldly to Him and make our requests:
  • To supply the perfect mix of teammates: multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary
  • Men of Peace who will be the entry point in the communities we will be targeting
  • Partnering organizations:  important meetings will be held soon concerning the work of Akot Medical Mission and Memorial Christian Hospital (Werkok)
  • The peace process in Sudan:  north/south relations and implementation of the CPA, the crisis in Darfur, and conflicts between neighbors and tribes
  • Finances
  • That we will proceed with fervor for the task ahead and have wisdom amidst any confusion.  

Thanks for answering the call to be part of the Mango Ministries Team!

Expectantly waiting for more than I can ask or imagine,


*  The Path; Creating your Mission Statement for Work and for Life, by Laurie Beth Jones
PS ~ a formal newsletter will be coming out within a week's time with fresh updates on what is happening in Mango Ministries.