WHY SUDAN? Alcoholism is epidemic in southern Sudan after 22 years of war and a shattered economy. WHY ME? In the Fall of 2005, I was hopelessly numbing out my pain with alcohol.
On Dec. 27, 2005, in absolute desperation, I walked into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
In January of 2006 I got to Step 3, "Give your life and will to God." Life hasn't been the same since.
This June-August, I will share the Gospel of Jesus and alcoholism recovery to the men of Sudan.
In the last week since asking you all to pray for rain, we've gone from ZERO rain to four VERY heavy rains. It would start raining in the middle of the night and continue for hours. Then during the day, the sun would come out - perfect. Prayers answered in huge ways. Thank you.
It's been amazing to see how the rain has brought joy and hope to the people here. The people are in the fields cultivating, making potato heaps, harvesting mangos and are hopeful again.
PRAYER REQUESTS (and then I'll give some more updates later if you want to read-on):
Luka Elijah - this man told me he'll die if he doesn't come to the meeting and leave alcohol. It's true - I watched him try to get out one cough for two minutes. He's dying from alcoholism in this life and has no Savior for the next. He keeps telling me he'll come the "next tomorrow" but the rain has kept him in the fields during the days. His wife is one of our members - pray hard that this man will come. When he does, God willing, we'll go through the first three steps the first day (1. Confess addiction 2. Believe that only God can restore sanity 3. Surrender life and will to God and trust Jesus to be his Lord and Savior).
Old Scopas - we are increasingly friends, which is strange considering five of his best customers are now five of our strongest members. He has made Jesus' command to greet your enemies come alive to me.
Raphael the Soldier - he was called back to Uganda by the government because he's an ex-soldier. He said that they may be drafting to combat the Somali conflict or the Lord's Resistance Army (both groups are terrorists). He's an old boxer, an electrician and is voraciously taking in all the Bible and teachings he can. He was supposed to have been back in Sudan on Sunday - it's noon Wednesday and we haven't heard from him.
Alex Jame - Been out of town for two weeks. He was beginning to be a leader in the group and pray that he has remained strong in the Lord during his absence. Pray for his return to wife Celina and children and back to Rapha - he'll be a great leader.
Jackson Aluma - he's our twenty-something guy that rides his bike an hour one way from Limi each day. Because of his diligence and transformed life, he has been invited to attend the Kajo Keji Theological Seminary and be a pastor. From drunk to pastor-in-training in ONE MONTH. That's what the Lord can do with a life. He's getting a full-ride thanks to our US anonymous contributors. We're also watching one other person as a candidate for school - pray for wisdom and for his discipline.
Rapha Transition - please continue to pray that the group will continue to grow and God will raise up servant leaders...we leave in one week.
Mary Tamalo - our little firecracker has gotten sick - likely malaria. Pray for her recovery.
Arrigar - new member, 30 years old - just completed Step 3 yesterday. Needs freedom from the addiction badly.
Thank you for praying. I promise you God is at work each time you make requests on behalf of these brothers and sisters of your's. May God bless you all for your faithfulness to people you won't meet until heaven.
Rapha is now 100% self-led by the Sudanese. We have completely stepped out of leadership and Kenny and Cosmas have been leading the group, taking people through the Steps and teaching from the Bible. Praise God.
On Saturday, they have planned a Rapha fellowship at Kenny Simon's compound - three mud huts with straw roofs, an outdoor hardened/swept clay floor - all under two mango trees in the middle of farm fields that were a battlefield just four years ago. They have invited anyone in the community and all of the church. They want people to see the work that God has done in their lives, celebrate the healing Jesus has brought and give first-hand testimonies to the public. It was all their idea and they've been collecting money at each meeting to buy enough sugar to make hot tea and have bread and maybe even one or two kilos of meat. Contributions range from 10 cents to a dollar and every little amount is a huge sacrifice. It's beautiful to see and they teach me lesson upon lesson about appreciating simple pleasures, the deceit of materialism, the importance of fellowship based on God's faithfulness, and not worrying about tomorrow - just looking to God today.
As I ran along the road one morning after the storm, an old, wirey man was making mounds in the rain-softened clay to plant some new potato plants. When I circled back by him, he called to me, hunched over to lay down his hoe and ran out to the road in his undersized orange tank-top, cut-off trowsers and knee-high rubber boots. He had a huge grin on his face and couldn't stop talking in Kuku. He took hold of my right hand and began jerkily running alongside of me. I don't what he was saying, but I think God's rain made that 80-something year-old man want to run like he was a boy again. He let go of my hand about 50 yards later, waved with both hands, smiled through some toothless gaps and went back to his field. That old man taught me there is joy everywhere for the taking - but we have to choose it, even in digging with a hoe or running beyond your years.
Love you all so much. I'm sorry I don't have time to respond to all your kind messages. They have each been such encouragements. Time and solar power is limited. I type these offline and upload them.
See you soon.