Saturday, November 13, 2010

Up close and personal

I don't know about you but I have a hard time getting excited about history unless I'm there. After I stood in the middle of the concentration camp at Dachau the holocaust became real. Seeing the mouth of the Nile River in Jinja, Uganda made the journeys of explorers Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke come to life.

The same for people. Meeting people, hearing their stories, and laughing with them makes all the difference in understanding their situations. So, this week as we pray for the 100 day count down to South Sudan's Referendum on January 9th I'd like to introduce you to some of the people I've had the priviledge to work with. They need our prayers. Their first languages differ, their stories vary, but one thing they all have in common is the desire to see God's Kingdom grow in Sudan.

Please pray for wisdom as each man exercises leadership within his circle of influence and for courage and boldness in the face of adversity. As the referendum draws near (in only 56 days) I pray God's favor will rest on each of these men.

1. Stephen Dokolo, Lui
Stephen is the Secretary for the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) in the Lui Diocese. Stephen was in Seminary in the US when I lived in Lui so I have only recently met him. Stephen gives quite the tour of Lui from the Slave Tree - turned Salvation tree to the history of the first missionary doctor, teacher, preacher - Dr. Frasier. Stephen has shared some of his exciting plans for the Diocese with us. Pray for resources and personnel so that the many churches in this Diocese can be transformed.

2. Bishop Isaac Dhiou, Akot

Here my missionary colleague, Billy Coppedge, is meeting with Bishop Isaac of the Akot Diocese of the ECS. They are enjoying a traditional Ethiopian meal in Rumbek as they discuss the needs of the church and pastoral training opportunities. A month and a half ago the WGM Sudan Board joined the Bishop and others from his church as they began a weekend of prayer for Sudan in preparation for the Referendum. We were humbled to meet people willing to commit a weekend to pray for their country.

3. Dr. Ajak Abraham, Werkok
Mango Ministry nurse volunteer, Stephen Leimgruber, is hanging out with Dr. Ajak in Werkok. Years ago Dr. Ajak was sent to Cuba to attend medical school. When he was finished the war was raging in Sudan and he took refuge in Calgary. Several years ago Samaritan's Purse provided medical refresher courses and a residency in Nairobi. Ajak is now the sole Doctor at Memorial Christian Hospital facing many challenges daily! He's a pediatrician, surgeon, obstetrician, and infectious disease doc all wrapped up in one - with few resources or colleagues to talk things over with.

4. Peter Knight, Lui
Peter Knight is the Administrator at Lui Hospital in the middle of South Sudan. This is where I lived for a year in 2006/07. Then Peter was in charge of the TB program but with several upper level staff leaving to further their education Peter has been drawn into management. Shortage of staff, gaps in operating expenses, and equipment that's worn out are a few of the challenges he faces.

5. Jacob Gai, Werkok
Jacob is the only US citizen among this group! He's also a published author. He has written a book detailing his journey from Sudan through Ethiopia and Kenya ending in Michigan called, "Unending Journey." He is known as one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. After receiving his education in Michigan he has returned to his home area of Sudan and is the Administrator of Memorial Christian Hospital in Werkok.

6. Sosthen Amin, Lui
I met Sosthen on my first two-week trip to Lui in 2006. I went out into the community to attend a graduation of community volunteers. I asked the staff member I was with why Sosthen had come along and was told, "For security! He used to be in the army." Sosthen has been an HIV counselor and chaplain at Lui Hospital and after attending Seminary in Nairobi he also works with the church. Sosthen has a real heart for his people.

7. Gabriel Amat, Akot
Gabriel is in his 20's - he has a wife and family. He's the pastor of the ECS church in Akot. He's also finishing up secondary school. War kept everyone who stayed in Sudan from finishing school when normally expected. There are many older students like Gabriel in high school. The clashes in Akot almost a year ago were very disruptive to his church. Gabriel has been very helpful to our team in Akot despite trying to juggle several responsibilities at the same time.

Thank you for taking the time to meet these men of God. Pray that they will remain rooted in Him in order to nurture His Church in the days, months, and years ahead.



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