Marriage and the Gospel #4

We’ve had a few interesting days of class. We’ve been looking at the Gospel…what Christ is to His Bride the Church as seen in the first marriage. But weve also been spending time applying that to their views of marriage. The poem that Adam recited to Eve…his first words to his bride…God’s description of how it will work…thus a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife. The unchallenged devotion to her (shall leave), the unbreakable covenant (shall cleave), the inseparable union (and the two shall become one) and the fact that the man is here the one primarily addressed…then we got to discuss their marriages…asked if their marriages displayed the Gospel to people, if they are to love as Christ loved the Church…are they showing that singular devotion or are they allowing their relationships with friends and extended family come in the way, we challenged their understanding of the marriage covenant, the rate of divorce here is way too high for a village…it’s a simple matter of taking back the cows you paid as bride price and the divorce is sealed. Then of course there was the intimacy of it all, are we pursuing that uniquely intimate relationship, seeking to know her…to allow yourself to be known. It was pure fun! There were moments of grand awkwardness. These things are in many ways foreign to a traditional African view of marriage.

At the start of class I had begun with the question “in the eyes of God who is more important in their being?” 10 out of 12 said the man. So it took a day of class to show the equality in being and difference in roles that complement each other. We did it by looking at the relationship of the Trinity…by the time we were getting done with the Trinity some guys in the class were smiling saying “we are about to be cornered”. It was no doubt a fun two days of class. The overarching question was “are you seeking to display the Gospel through your marriage?” focusing on the Gospel is the means to that end.

Church service and first day of class #3

Had a great Lord’s day. My heart started off somewhat troubled as the service begun, it just seems to me that these men are so chilled out in their task to lead the church of God through the proclamation of the Gospel. I sat in the service with my heart vexed with thoughts of the amount of work yet to be done. Very little urgency, little passion, and by and large I cannot produce it in them. It has to be a work of the Spirit. So when I got up to speak I spoke that which was upon my heart…the Gospel, we looked at how those who have found the kingdom act…they sell everything they have with joy that they may posses the kingdom! I asked them if they knew anything of that joy. Those who enter into the kingdom are those who have been born again…I asked if they have been born again. Then I preached the Gospel. From the feedback I was getting I decided to encourage those who had been convicted from the sermon to indicate that they would love to hear more about how they can be one born again…that was a mistake, everyone lifted their hands, including the pastor! I never have people do that, I should have known better.

Next day we started the first day of class. Earlier that day I spent a few hours working on accurate estimates for the church construction project. Josephat Munyi, he helped me come up with a design and estimates of the building material. This document will help us come up with an accurate figure of how much it will cost…or at least a figure in the neighborhood.
The first day of class was very encouraging and interesting. I begun by collecting data on the authority structures in their churches and the organizational structures of their parishes. This helped me identify which men were in charge and who I could contact to see if the training we are offering could be recognized by the Presbyterian church of South Sudan. I also did a review of the last course. I asked the men to each choose one story that we had covered in the last module and use it to preach the Gospel. I was pleasantly surprised. All the men shared the Gospel from the stories satisfactorily, though with differing clarity. They are getting it. Two more modules on the same track and I think the men will be thoroughly equipped to preach Christ from the Old and New Testament.

S Sudan Pastor’s Training Trip May 5th – 18th 2012

I got back from my trip this past Saturday. Thank you for keeping this mission in your prayers. I’ll be posting several journal entries and pictures over the next few days. I trust that these posts will be encouraging to you and serve to help you know how to better pray for those left in the field serving and for us as a church as we seek to make disciples of Christ in places where He has not been named.

Start the reading from “First day” #2

Meet the witchdoctor #7

            The first thing you see as you approach his place is a huge hill right in front of a tukul/hut. This hill is a monstrous heap of dung ash. Here cow dung is burnt at night to wade off the mosquitoes from the cows mainly, but also from the people. The higher your pile the more cows you likely have. For one to have a heap like this one you would have to be very rich. However in his case the hill acts as a sort of a shrine or a place from where he gains access to his gods.

            We walked past the hill marveling at the kids who were scaling up the steep edges of the hill with buckets of fresh dung ash to add to the heap. However, an old woman halted our progress. She came at us with raised arms commanding us to take off our shoes. We were supposedly walking on ground that she considered holy. Needless to say, we did not take off our shoes. When she came closer and had a better look at us she asked what we wanted and was told we were looking to talk to the witch doctor (the conversation was all in Nuer I’m guessing this is what was being said…I’m sure they were not talking about Friday night’s NBA games). She pointed us to a different tukul where we could see a group of people seated waiting to see him. As we walked away from the old woman, I glanced back to look at her because I had a sense that she was demon possessed just by her weird posture and manner of talking…something was quite off. As I turned to look at her I found her half turned, walking away but still staring at me, she let off a low short laugh of sorts…creepy. We had been praying as we came to this place because I expected it to be the throne of the devil in this area. If God’s Work was going to thrive in this area it would not happen without a clear challenge to the work this man was doing.

            We walked over to the waiting area and were offered a mat to sit on to wait for him, I was too tired to sit that low on the ground so we took a pass. It turned out that the witch doctor had gone to take a bath in the swamp. They entreated us to wait for him. I asked my friends what they thought we should do…we were all pretty tired and having to wait for an indefinite amount of time did not look too appealing to any of us. I think I spotted a measure of fear in the voices and body language of my students. They seemed very uncomfortable to be there. They suggested we go and plan a visit on a later date. We inquired how long it would take for him to get back and were informed that he would be back very shortly…the servants were very keen to have us wait I suspect it is because we looked like good customers. I suggested to the men that we wait and they obliged. We waited for about 10 minutes for the witch doctor to return (seats had been brought out for us so we dint have to wait on our feet), as we waited I was observing the people around me. The crowd waiting was pretty quiet, there was a tall man with unkempt hair walking around with a very big spear, he made me a little uncomfortable. Two rough looking characters walked in and went over to the witch doctors wives to greet them. I saw one of the men poke a wife with the rear end of his spear roughly although not in a way that would hurt her. He then took a fist full of her hair and turned her face to himself. There was something unusual about this whole place.

            After our 10-minute wait Michael who the whole time had been standing looking down the road waiting for our host to appear announced with a hushed tone “He’s coming! And he is carrying a gun!”  He showed up wearing nothing but his trousers, rolled up to his calves, an AK 47 rifle swinging carelessly on one of his hands, an entourage of wives and some men around him.

            He walked into the compound and spotted James Koang immediately. He greeted him with a friendly tone and they had a short conversation. James had a smile on his face and the witchdoctor sounded fairly friendly. This gave me hope that we might actually have a chance to engage him with the Gospel. He walked away into one of his huts giving me a chance to confirm what they were talking about. James informed me that he was asking him why he did not send anyone to let him know that he was coming, to which James replied “we were just passing by and decided to pay you a visit”. He came out and walked past us still asking James why he had not given him prior notice before coming to visit him, he asked us to wait as he headed to the ash heap. Things were getting tense. He sounded more confrontational now, the team and waiting crowd was starting to look a little agitated.

            When he returned he was a different man. He had an apron of sorts made out of goatskin hanging from his neck, a reed mat with some spears inside it and a chip on his shoulder. He came and immediately begun calling James out. He claimed that James had been trying to test his powers for a while now, and that the reason he had come un-announced was so as to catch him of guard. He invited James to try and take a photo of him and see if it will work (he claims that any camera used to take his photo would break). The waiting crowd were now on their feet marveling at the spectacle that had become. We hadn’t come seeking for a confrontation, we were coming to share the Gospel with him to show that the message we preached was for all, to show that our God was not in competition with any of the local gods they are not in the same league…not even conceivably close. The greatness of God that I sought to display was the greatness of His love even for him…to assure him that he was not outside the reach of His love.

            I motioned to James to translate for me and I begun to share the Gospel with him. I introduced myself and informed him of my mission in the area, told him that I had come to share with sinful men the good news of God of how they can be reconciled back to Him again. It became clear to me shortly that the man was not the same man that had been talking to James a few minutes earlier. This man was not hearing a word I was saying. Every time I would say some thing he would answer back with incoherent words. He offered me a cow right in the middle of my presentation of the gospel; he told me that if I did not take the cow a hyena would eat it at night. All this he said without ever looking me in the eye, he ventured a quick glance or two once or twice but kept his eyes on my friend the whole time.  We had not come to take but to give, to give the gift of eternal life made available in Christ and I told him as much, we had not come for a competition we came to communicate the offer of mercy and pardon from the God who made the heavens and the earth the God he would meet one day soon and bow the knee to. When I said this He challenged me telling me to “pull out my hair” and see whose god was greater. He then proceeded to unroll his reed mat take two dried up maize seeds and dramatically threw them at my feet. James and the guys later told me that everyone had at that point expected something really bad to happen to us. Nothing did. I asked him what those seeds were but got no answer. It was obvious at this point that we were not really communicating and that all the drama was not particularly edifying. I gave another offer of mercy told him that all his sins could be forgiven if he turned to Christ but this like my other words fell on deaf ears. We begged leave and stood up to go. He begun to plead with us to stay but there was no point of staying so we begun to walk away. He called out after us a few times but we were set on leaving.

            After walking a few paces three men came running after us. One was the tall guy with the big spear the other was the rough character I had seen earlier poking the witchdoctors wife with his spear. They did not look menacing at all. They seemed to be beseeching my three Nuer friends. My friends were replying to them in animated speech and the men seemed to be explaining something to them. I tried to get someone to tell me what was being said to no avail. When we walked away they told me the men had asked them not to translate anything to me. The men were giving advice to the three to go back and entreat the witchdoctor lest something really bad happen to them. It turns out there are some old men who normally intercede for those with whom the witchdoctor is angry and they happened not to be present on that day. For fear that something bad would happen to their Nuer brothers they had come to entreat them to return (They did not care enough about me to extend the offer to me). The three were now full of excitement as they spoke of how they could not be harmed by any of his wizadry.  After a few minutes of talking the men went back and we returned to our journey back. The men, excited about their encounter with the witchdoctor laughed at how his attempt to perform magic with his “hair” had failed. They were very excited in their speech but it felt to me like the excitement was not so much based on God’s power to preserve and protect but rather a mockery of the impotence of the witchdoctor. So I exhorted them not to take his powers lightly rather to delight in the truth that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. Later that week we took a whole days class to examine how Christ crushed the head of the devil, how He destroyed the Devil’s work, this was to keep them from feeling like they would have to turn to a signs and wonders ministry to battle the Devil’s work there. They quieted down for a short while but after a minute or two they were back to excited speech about their experience. At least I tried.

            I was glad that the students had come out of that experience with more confidence than they’d had as they walked in. It was not so much that they had learned something new about God as it is that the truths they knew about Him were confirmed for them. Later I had that there was talk in the market place about our visit. The general consensus of the villagers was that the God we serve must be real if we walked into the witchdoctor’s house preached and no harm came upon us. We rejoice in this, and trust that the Lord will use it to further crack the gates of hell in this region and allow it to serve the growth of His Church.

            We walked back at a very slow pace, crossed the swamp, which at this point of the year it is not so deep and as the sun set upon our village we arrived back to the our camp. Home sweet home. 

A people gathered A work started #6

Next morning a bee stung me as I was taking my shower. Keew is an extremely dry place which means that for miles around there is no other source of water other than what people use for their water source e.g. the well or in my case, the shower head. We stocked up our bags with pancakes and peanut butter and we were off to Panyang. It was a shorter trip 1hr 40 minutes, and we tackled it at a friendly pace. The village was really cool to see. It was the first village I have seen in Sudan that has been arranged on a sort of Main Street. The day before I had noticed that the homesteads were very far apart. I wondered is the people did not like each other…these guys however were all neatly spread out next to each other on opposite sides of the street. We went to Michael’s home, met his brother and wife. By Sudanese village standards this guy was doing pretty well, he had his luak (place they keep their cows), a few huts, a few chicken and several bags of sorghum for his family.

After praying together and resting our feet we went around the village inviting people to a church service. This had never been the plan but I let Michael take the lead here since this was going to be his mission field.  Two kids took drums, started thumping them to alert the village that a church service was about to go down. It took them close to an hour to get to the tree that we had identified as the location of the new church. They had actually taken time to clean up, put on their best clothes and then come to church. I preached to them for about an hour. They listened fairly well. The people were excited to hear that Michael was going to be coming in every Sunday to lead the church. There weren’t many men in the congregation. Most of them were carrying spears as they walked past us. I’m yet to know what part of their understanding of church makes it predominantly a ladies affair. My hope and encouragement to Michael was to make sure that he does not end up gathering a crowd under the name of a church. He needs to invest in disciple making if a church was going to be established.

We had lunch (I had a pancake and water while the guys had sorghum and milk) then entertained a number of guests who all wanted to meet us personally and express their gratitude for the new work. As we ate a choir if young people gathered outside our tukul singing for their visitors. It was a great hospitality that they extended to us. They then proceeded to escort us to the outskirts of the village, the whole time they were beating their drums and singing with a sound of great joy. We then bade them farewell and started our journey. It was to be a two-hour walk back to Juaibor. As we got going Michael informed us that we would be walking right by the witch doctors place. This was not casual news. This man exercises some power in this region. Last season round he asked for cows to be brought to him for blessings so as to protect them from the perils of the cattle camp. Thousands of cows were brought in. Many in the area will take their sick there for healing, many will take to him their disputes for him to resolve. We decided to pay him a visit and share with him the Gospel.

Michael went up front to set the pace…the man can walk. In a few minutes we were speeding through the villages on our way home. We stopped after an hour to snack; pancakes and peanut butter. Before we started off again we prayed for the remaining journey and for grace as we shared the Gospel with the witch doctor. We started off again on our journey at a slow pace but before long we were back to Olympian speeds. My legs by this time had started hurting. My right knee and my left ankle were killing me, but by God’s grace I managed to keep up with the rest of the pack. 50 minutes after lunch we were at the witch doctors place.

The walk and the birth of a Vision #5

We had a great weekend. The long awaited Saturday, the day we were to start off for Keew (a village 4hrs walk away) came. We were to start off at 5:00am so as to avoid walking in the scotching sun. Our two Sudanese comrades however did not show up till 6:40am. I suspect it is because they do not have any other way of telling what time it is other than the sun rising, problem was, the season we were currently in had sunrise set at 6:30am. We started off at a quick pace. I had been amply warned time and again that I would not manage to keep up the Sudanese pace, I was however feeling pretty good as we got started. In 10 minutes however our speed had literally doubled, any faster and we would be running. We were walking fast enough to keep up with a guy who was jogging. These men looked so comfortable…its like they were taking a stroll yet their strides were very wide and their pace deceivingly quick. I was enjoying it however and keeping up with the pack. We took a break an hour and a half into the walk. We ate some githeri and peanut butter for breakfast. Must say it was the first time I’d had that. Started off again at a quick pace and before long it  was back to supper speeds. A lady recognized James Koang in one of the homesteads we were racing by. She stopped him and asked if he could come in and pray for her sick grandson. They were just about to start off for the clinic. We went in and James and I prayed then in a short while we were back to our trip. It’s hard not to think about how rough these people have it. They struggle on just about all quarters. I’m glad they at least have a clinic to go to even it’s hours away.

The main purpose for our trip was to do a church planting survey…really exciting stuff. The thought had crossed my mind earlier when I’d heard that one of our students was being transferred to Keew to work at the clinic there. I inquired if there was a church meeting there and was only told of the Catholic church. I pitched the idea to him and he was not opposed to it nor particularly excited about it. So I figured I would invite him to come for this as I pray that God would burden him with the work whilst we were on the trip.

3hrs after we had started off, we got to Keew. I had felt pretty strong for the better part of the trip but as we neared our destination my feet were killing me. It was the pace that had got to them. We arrived to an empty camp but quickly made ourselves at home. This was CMA. Two of the guys took showers, got back to the mess and we begun to talk business. The initial idea had been that we come in to do evangelism in Keew and two other villages 30 minutes walk away but as we talked it came to my knowledge that there were very few people in Keew. During the dry season most of the villagers move to locations where they can access water. Michael’s village Pajang was one of the places people went, thus it was pretty much populated all through the year. So I asked him “why then not plant the church in your village?”, “you have to go there to see your family, the people know you and it’s more populated than Keew”. At this suggestion Michael got fairly excited and shared that there had been a church that he’d led there years ago but it had died off after he had gone off to school and after he got back there had been no effort to re-start it. He was willing to go and re-start the work again.

We attended a leaders meeting after our meeting. I shared from 1 Peter 5. We established what the task of elders was (Shepherding), saw how it was to be done and what the reward would be. They have a great challenge here in that their flock is a migrating flock so every year there comes the time when your congregants will up and move to the next town in search of food and water. The leaders all expressed their greatest need as that of education. They regretted that they had not been informed about the training. We promised to invite them for the April module.

Later that evening after talking a nap to recover from the walk I attended a meeting for mid wives. CMA has trainied ladies to help deliver children in villages that are far away from where their clinics are. They come in to give a report of how their work is going on and take supplies for their work. These ladies were a great example of the need for intensive Gospel ministry in this area. Most of them said they did not have any churches in their villages, some said they had heard of Jesus but when I tried to ask what they knew about Jesus all they could tell me was that He was supposedly God’s Son. As to why Jesus came to earth they had no clue. They were running out of time and had to start off in their journey given that they had a few hours of walking to do. I did not have time to share with them the Gospel.

Reminded why I am sold out to storying! #4

We had an interesting class today. Did a review of the previous day’s class then dove into the third story; Cain and Abel. The question arose about finding acceptance in God vs finding acceptance in others. From which came the question what is our

acceptance in God based on? Good works or Christ’s work. Which led us to Romans 5:6,8; 4:5; Eph 1:6. This discussion once again convinced me that we have to approach people who come from illiterate cultures in a different way. Storying is the only way forward with this group. It took me at least an hour to show them the truth that one cannot be saved by his works because for that to happen one would need to keep the law perfectly and the Bible and personal experience tell us that no one can or ever has Rom 2:15, 3:19-20. Thus the only way out for us is for us to obtain perfect righteousness through a different path, faith in Christ Rom 3:21-26, 4:5. They would look a verse square in the face and not see it. They are still preaching salvation by works to their people. One student made a comment to end that one can be saved by their good deeds and another remarked “why on earth do you love preaching salvation by the keeping of the law so much yet you keep breaking it.” There is a silver lining to this doctrinal cloud; I think he’s getting the point.

Met Dave Pierce coming back from class! This is a weird Sudan trip, that’s two people from EBC that I have met here now. He is a pilot with MAF and is spending the night here before a long route tomorrow ending up in Nairobi. I’m sure it will be a great evening with him…I can smell the chapatis so it was destined to be a great evening all along.

A great evening it was indeed. We had fellowship like I have not had in a long time, not even back in Nairobi. Shared thoughts on Heaven, the glories of Christ that we shall share in, the brevity of life, and the urgency of the work of missions, it was a great time.

Storying with the pastors #3

Next day…pancakes with an attitude and omelets for breakfast and we were off to the clinic. The women from the Presbyterian Church came for the preaching session. It was a packed “house”. We looked at the story of Joseph…the man who by the providence of God had to go through suffering so that his brothers who had sinned against him would be saved from certain death. The christocentric application is pretty clear and powerful. We are not Joseph in the story we are the wicked brothers. God sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross so that we might be saved from the penalty of our sins, just like He sent Joseph ahead to suffer then later save his brothers from starving to death.

Spent the rest of the morning reading up for the training session with the pastors in the afternoon. Took an involuntary nap as I was doing so. Beans and rice for lunch which funny enough did not fill my stomach up with gas as they normally do. The training session went great. The pastors seemed engaged, application from the story of how Adam and Eve tried to cover up for their own sins using leaves as compared to the covering that God offered them through the death of the animal from whose skin came their clothes, seemed to get to them. “What are you doing with your sins? Running away from God to deal with them? By covering up for them with a few good deeds to make you feel good about yourself? By trying to keep secrets? Leaves! Run to the cross instead, Christ’s blood has been shed for you, His righteousness is a perfect covering.”

Took a walk in the market in the evening, saw an auction for bulls…fairly interesting. Had a long chat with a dude called Reath who is not a believer, we connected as he told me of his background in playing soccer; hope I can get a chance to clearly share the Gospel with him before I leave. Just as I was thinking of leaving I met Yohaness, one of my best students from the first training. He’d been out of town and did not know that I was coming to conduct the training. It was really great to see this man, he has a great heart and is a great pleasure to have in class. To my pleasure he has made plans to attend. Had an interesting convo about politics with the team over supper and turned in at about 11:00pm. The bat did its thing at night again but same as the other night it did not bug me much.

Storying tested and a meeting with the Pastors #2

The sun came out on Monday morning with her extended family. It was blazing the whole day 35ºC inside and 50ºC outside (or at least that’s as high as the thermometer we have can go. Before the two weeks were over it had gone up to 45ºC inside). Had breakfast and we were off to the clinic to preach to the staff and those who were waiting for treatment.

I had decided to use the method of teaching and preaching (storying) that I was going to teach the pastors to do all the preaching I was going to do whilst there. I did this with the intention to demonstrate the effectiveness of the method to a people who are oral based in their perception of truth. We shared from Luke 15. I never opened my Bible, just told the three parables as stories to the group. The attention was incredible. The unsolicited questions they shot at me in the middle of the preaching were telling of their understanding. One lady remarked after hearing of the reaction of the father to the prodigal son; “He did not chase the son away? How merciful He must be!” needless to say I was excited at the work God was doing through His Word.

The pastors trickled in one by one that afternoon for the meeting. I’d shared with Koang my concerns about the group of men in the class. I was not seeing a passion for the Gospel and it’s propagation. I was not sure they had owned the work. Too many seemed excited about the class but lackluster about the church. I intended to give a talk to spur up the urgency of getting the Gospel out to the villagers, hoped to cast a vision for them about the breath of the work we could get done if we all worked together in the next two weeks, hoped to communicate the weightiness of the call to steward the Gospel in a place where there was so little knowledge of it. And it was done…the level of effectiveness with which these truths were communicated are only known to God with whom rests the power to send a revival whenever He pleases. I am content to leave it in His hands. We talked about the unending joys of Heaven and the inexplicable horrors of Hell in light of the fact that a young man had just died in the area a day or two before, a young man who was in their proximity, a young man who never heard the Gospel from any of their lips.

During the meeting it came to my knowledge that many of the men in the class were really struggling to provide for their families. There was a famine in the area. The price of Sorghum had shot up and become un-affordable for most of the villagers. A few men who had been able to come for the previous class were out of town seeking means to provide for their families. Some of those who had remained had remained only for the duration of the class after which they would have to go out to neighboring towns in search of jobs or help. These men have been called to serve amidst highly difficult circumstances. I feel a great need for grace to be able to lead them well through God’s Word in the next two weeks so as to point them to truths that will be an encouragement to them and their churches as they go through this struggle.

We planned how we were going to host an open air meeting in the market place and embark on a trip to two villages which are 4hrs walk away to do the same thing there. Not much enthusiasm was demonstrated but sufficient to set the plans.

It was an interesting night. Someone was getting married in the neighborhood so I slept to the sound of men dancing and singing well past midnight. I was so tempted to go see but resisted the thought knowing my hosts would not think it wise. A bat woke me up later in the night. It fell through the thatched roof and spent some time flying around in my tukul (hut). Thank God for the mosquito net. I went back to sleep without much difficulty.

Off to the field #1

First night. We landed in Juba and after being introduced to several new things about South Sudan, I was settled into the MAF guesthouse. It had been somewhat strange for me to chat with friendly immigration officers at the airport. Friendly immigration officers are not easy to come by anywhere in the world. They had a good grasp of English and one, to my great pleasure even spoke Sheng! For the first time I was in a country where they drive on the right side of the road. I was glad to see tarmac roads in the town, the Chinese were at work here…I can only hope they got for themselves a better deal than most who do business with them.

Two pleasant surprises awaited me at the MAF guesthouse. The first came with meeting the team leader of the MAF team. He turned out to be a former member at EBC, Stephan Haganier. They had resettled to South Sudan late last year. I got to have supper with them, spend some time with their lovely family and replenish my water bottle. This family are a great testimony to the worth of Christ, they chose to move from Nairobi a city with many comforts to Juba, the most expensive city in the world to live in boasting a harsh climate and difficult working conditions. For a young family this is a great sacrifice they willingly chose to make so as to serve their Lord. Their labor is not in vain! Second surprise was that I spent the night in an air-conditioned room. This never happens. My body and mind had to do some major readjustment to get accustomed to this. As soon as I begin my trip from Nairobi I expect nothing below 35 degrees Celsius…I was not complaining though.

The next day started off with some minor drama. The local contact came to get me 50 minutes later than he said he would. When we got to the airport he was besides himself in a totally panicked state. The guards were unwilling to let him in through the gates to go and deliver his cargo to the chartered plane. These guards had received a different version of the “how to treat visitors hand book” from the one their colleagues whom I’d met earlier had obviously read from. After some haggling he was allowed to deliver his cargo. I helped the pilot load up the plane, was totally impressed with the ministry these men engage in so as to make inaccessible places accessible to missionaries and aid workers to make supplies available, things that are not available where they are. It is a one-man crew. The pilot serves as the mechanic, the loader and off-loader, the pilot and co-pilot. After a few minutes the pilot and I lifted off in a small plane full of construction material and medicine.

It was by and large an uneventful flight. This route provided a more picturesque view of Sudan, landscape with some character, some hills, the Nile, beautiful. As usual my right ear did not pop which produced some discomfort for me as we descended. The touch down was soft. I was back. Juaibor.

The door opened, I stepped out of the plane, the crazy heat slapped me in the face, just what I expected, this is Sudan. The usual crowd around the plane had shown up. Hugs and hand shakes from the pastors. It was great to see these men. It was good to be back. The walk with Koang (the CMA facilitator for the pastors training prog.) to the camp revealed some bad news. Several of the men who were supposed to attend the class were not in town. Getting the same men to repeat the course has always been tough. We arrived in the camp, prayed with the pastors for a good two weeks of training and proceeded to lunch. Pilau and goat meat…good stuff. The cargo had contained a deep freezer for the Juaibor team…we have to wait 48 hours before turning it on but I can wait. This trip was off to a comfortable start. A few hours later, three liters of water down, a nagging migraine, a page or two of Treasure Island and I was ready to call it a day. We had had a meeting with Koang on the concerns I had with the men we were training, shared with him some of my thoughts about the way to move forward but did not want to load him up with too much on day one. I really hope that the vision and mission of these men can broaden. That they would own the cause for themselves and risk it all for the King. I wasn’t sure it was happening. Not as far as I could tell anyway.

It was a hot night but I had cotton bed sheets this time so my skin did not itch as it had in previous trips. A nagging migraine woke me up but the painkillers dealt with that in a few minutes and I was back to sleep.