Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dancing in the street

Summer's here and the time is right for dancin' in the street.

You remember Martha and the Vandellas, don't you?  From Chicago, to Philadelphia to Akot, South Sudan.  OK, maybe Akot wasn't part of the original song but there was definitely celebration and singing there last month.  

About 25 patients had been discharged and left the Akot Medical Mission in a group.  As they walked the short distance to town they were jubilant as they entered the shopping district which is about a block long with small shops along each side of the road.  The patients began sharing about the miracle of new sight with the shopkeepers and dancing.  The shopkeepers were so thrilled they joined in the celebration with the patients and even gave out money to help the patients get public transport back to their homes.  

Watch a little bit of dancing from our clinic last September.  The phrase that is being repeated says, "Change has come and we're so happy."  I feel a dance coming on to celebrate the good things God is doing in South Sudan!

However, South Sudan is a hard place to be and to do ministry.  There's not just the language barrier but the way we think is different.  The South Sudanese are steeped in cultural animistic beliefs that can conflict with Biblcal principles.  It's not infrequent that we wonder if our messages are getting across.  

Adhanom, practicing his facilitation skills, at the Community Health Evangelism (CHE) training in April.  

CHE participants doing an exercise during training

CHE can be a great tool used for community empowerment and transformation.  It can . . .  if God is behind it.  Will you join us in praying that God will continue speaking truth into the lives of 20 men and women who have been identified as leaders in their communities. The first week of training went really well.  We need you to join us in praying that these men and women's lives will be changed and they will make a difference within their circle's of influence. 

In one lesson the plan of salvation is explained.  Our training team had come prepared with chalk only to find that there wasn't a blackboard in the open-sided grass thatched hut.  So the next best thing was to draw in the dirt with a stick and that is what Pastor John did as he shared the illustration of the Four Spiritual Laws.  This is a testimony from one of the participants. 

“I had gone to different trainings. But, this was very special. I benefitted spiritually and physically. There is a lesson that I can’t ever forget. Never! Even if I get very old, I can’t forget it. I used to believe that salvation is from my side. I was thinking that I can reach God. But when Pastor John explained to us, I realized that I was wrong. I realized that it was God who can reach to me and save me. I can’t forget this lesson all my life – Never!” 

This man's 'lightbulb' moment is cause for dancing in the street!  
I'm so thankful we serve a God who reaches out to us, in spite of where we find ourselves at times.

As life begins to take on the rhythm of summer I pray you and I will really see the goodness of God and offer a dance of thanksgiving.

I look forward to sharing with some of you this summer about what God is up to in South Sudan while I am home for a short Homeland Ministry Assignment.  Most of my time will be in South Jersey.  Let me know if you'd like me to send you a schedule.



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