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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Picturing Akot

I trust these pictures will help you pray for Akot. If you are interested in joining the Mango Ministry Team and taking a virtual prayer walk through Akot but do not receive my email updates send me a note (joy.phillips@wgm.org) and I will send you a map and some suggestions of what you can pray for.

Shalom,

joy

This is the Baptist Mission compound where food distributions are taking place

My favorite restaurant in Akot . . . OK, the only restaurant in Akot

Try that in 100+ degree heat!

The women and girls journey home after a trip to the well

A typical hut, called a tukel, in Sudan

Sorghum, still on the stalk to dry, when ground is the
staple food ~ many family's harvests were looted or burned
Mango Ministry staff talk to leaders in the center of town

The Akot airstrip with a Cessna 206 coming in

The Akot Medical Mission with Dr. Clarke McIntosh on right

Akot Primary School with the Principal on left and a few students

School buildings were constructed during the British colonial period

The Episcopal Church of Sudan in Akot: the church before this was destroyed during the war and Samaritan's Purse reconstructed this church for the people of Akot

Pray for peaceful elections in April

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'll be there . . . .

This past weekend I enjoyed de-decorating from the holidays to some radio tunes. I couldn’t help but enjoy a blast from the past when Michael Jackson crooned, “I’ll be there.”

This week my mind is racing with thoughts of Sudan. The news isn’t great. The two sites we are partnering at have both experienced violence in the few short weeks of 2010. Civilian populations have run into the bush seeking safety from armed neighboring tribes and/or the army. Hospital attendance is low and not for the reasons we’d all like to see. (Prevention is better than cure!)

My mind is bombarded with wondering anew what it looks like when the Kingdom of God is painfully being molded from chaos and suffering. I keep asking myself, "What does the Kingdom in conflict situations look like? How is the Kingdom expressed to people who are dying, running for their lives, hungry, hurt, emotionally traumatized and not just once, but again and again and again?"

My heroic thoughts tend to answer that question with Michael Jackson – I’ll be there. I will help bind up your wounds, I will feed you, I will tell you stories of Jesus love. Yes I will. I’ll be there.

I will if the UN security report says I can travel.

I will if a week goes by without gunfire in town.

I will if the soldiers don’t harass me.

I will if everything goes according to my plan.

I will if I don’t have to miss any meals.

I will if you promise I won’t get hurt.

Obviously those are tenuous I will's!

To be honest I have many questions. I don’t know exactly how WGM can best help. I don’t know when it will be time to stay and time to pull out. I’d be a lot more comfortable if it were just me in Sudan. But it’s Mercy’s father and Rebecca’s husband, and it’s Faith and Stephen who are there. They are the ones putting it on the line.

From the time the Mango Ministry team set foot in Akot we have had a friend in Pastor Mark (on left - not his real name). He’s a good English speaker and has helped us learn about his part of the world. Our team highly values his friendship.

He’s a young man in his twenties and along with Pastoring a church on Sundays he’s enrolled in a High School about 10 km away. It’s a Boarding School so he resides there during the week, away from his family. During the war the option of going to school wasn’t there. Since the signing of the Peace Agreement 5 years ago schools have reopened and there are many older students completing their education now.

Saturday Reuben and Joseah returned to Akot. Sunday they attended Pastor Mark’s church, only he wasn’t there. Actually no one was there to lead. It ended up being a very short service due more to the presence of many soldiers than anything else.

This week Pr. Mark shared his story with our team. To begin with his home was burnt during the violence that struck Akot town over New Years and he lost everything. The Sunday before last he tried going to his Church but was attacked. He narrowly escaped, leaving his bicycle behind (the bicycle that he uses to get to and from school), before the Army Commander arrived and brought order to the situation.

The men sat and listened and prayed with Pr. Mark and shared a few pieces of clothing. Listening, praying, giving: this is a glimpse of what it looks like when the Kingdom of God is being molded from chaos and suffering.

Please be in prayer for me and the Mango Ministry Team. We need God's direction to know how He wants to use us in the midst of the chaos. How is God calling you to bring beauty from the ashes of this world’s heartache to someone in your world?

“Jesus, the news indicates that Sudan is in for a tough year. It will get harder and less safe. I pray for your divine grace to cover Mango Ministries. Keep us in Your perfect will. May we not let go of your hand as we walk boldly into the future, as we participate in the building of Your Kingdom, on earth, as it is in Heaven.”

~joy

Isaiah 61

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Change of plans

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Robert Burns

Sudan is unpredictable and last week we got a clearer idea of what that means. Over the New Years weekend fighting broke out in Akot between the army and civilians leaving 16 people dead and part of the town in flames. On two separate occasions the locals fled into the bush leaving a ghost town behind.

What does this mean for the Cataract Clinic plans? It means that what appeared like the ‘best laid plans’ for travel, getting supplies on site, ministry plan, preparation of Tenwek team, etc. have been set aside while the dust and embers settle in Akot.

Pray for God’s timing in the rescheduling of the clinic, hopefully before the end of March. Pray for the ability to move around the community as Reuben and Joseah return to Akot next week. As people’s minds are focused on the recent conflict and upcoming elections in April pray that we’ll know where to focus our energies to encourage and not compete for people’s energy. Above all, please pray with us for true reconciliation between the warring parties and with God. These people need to see Jesus: the army, the cattle herders, the leaders, the shopkeepers, the youth, the impoverished subsistence farmers, and even those of us who have gone to Akot to help. I need to see Jesus clearly too!

Plans are moving forward to send Faith Shingledecker (veteran lab technologist from Tenwek) and Stephen Leimgruber (volunteer nurse at Tenwek) to Memorial Christian Hospital in Werkok next week. Let’s pray that God uses Faith and Stephen to meet crucial needs in the provision of compassionate health care and that they will be an encouragement to the community and other team members.


I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied, “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” Marie Louise Haskins

Thank you for standing with the Mango Ministry Team as we venture into the dark, our hands safely in God’s grip.

Shalom,

joy