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!


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