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.”