Salaam Alekum from the far reaches of Aweil, South Sudan! God is moving and healing and loving so very big in these parts, so much so that I find it hard to keep up with Him. What a wonderful God we serve here at Iris Ministries South Sudan. So much has happened since I last wrote that I hardly know where to begin. Let’s begin with a miracle!
I was so blessed to preach in the Sudanese Pentecostal Church of Akuem, which is 25 kilometers up the road from us, last Sunday. This was my regular church when I lived here three years ago so it was like being with family again. I preached on the subject of Christ in us the hope of glory. I know this is one of Mama Heidi’s favorite subjects too. During the message I told the story about the demon possessed girl we encountered in Mozambique a few years back who even had a separate house built just for her demons. The family would bring plates of food daily to give to the demons. You can read this story and many more at my website, http://www.called2follow.com . She was delivered and set free by the end of the day praise God.
When I finished preaching on Sunday and we had an alter call for the sick, a mother brought her daughter up, who was obviously possessed by demons as she was squirming and writhing on the floor. Many in the church came up to lay hands on this little girl. Nothing visible happened and all left for their homes. I was in the pastor’s office when ten minutes later in walks this little girl, in her right mind, smiling and conversing like any other little girl! Delivered and set free, hallelujah! Now that’s church when God is in the house and the church prays!
Our street kid ministry in Aweil town is becoming a staple for these children. This week we are teaching them about hearing the voice of God for their lives. It is amazing how each one is engaged and ready to receive. Even the little three year olds hold their hands out with eyes closed to receive from the Lord. I simply love their childlike faith, their pure faith, unblemished by years of mistakes and regrets. These ones are truly hungry and they will see the kingdom of God. Our numbers fell to about 60 each day and for some reason we are back up to 100 each day.
God has been blessing these children more than we could fathom. When we arrived here, I would walk the streets and find so many sick street children. They would be sick with malaria, diarrhea, typhoid, flesh-eating wounds and fevers and so much more. The percentage of sick children we encountered when we first started caring for them was about 30% that fell in these categories. These days, we are at about 3% that fall into these categories. God is keeping our kids healthy and I know the hugest part of it is the love we have for them, filling them with a good medicine of the Holy Spirit and we do good wound cleaning and care for them!
As of this day we have also been able to send 61 boys home to their families. We hire public transportation and send one of our pastors with each group of boys and take them to their villages far and wide. Once there, they immediately go to the market to purchase their school uniform and school supplies and to register them in school. Now, when they arrive at their front doors, the parents see this splendid child ready for school. Every parent has been so happy to see their prodigals come home. There have been only three times where the child was rejected by an uncle or other relative because the parent’s were dead. In the next month, three of my staff have stated that they want to take one of the boys each into their homes. They want to care for the orphan. That is true religion. I am so proud of them and look for God’s blessing in their lives.
One boy whom I will call Deng, he hadn’t been home in five years. His mother came to the city to go to the hospital and brought Deng with her because he was only five years old. While in the hospital she died. In all of the confusion Deng became separated and found himself on the streets. His father, an old man, had no way to come find him. A few weeks ago we took Deng home. When his father saw him he didn’t recognize him and we had to tell him it was his son. The father pulled him into his embrace and tears rolled down his cheeks. This has been the scenario so many times when we bring a child home. God’s love makes it worth it all.
The plan of God for this region concerning my team in Aweil is to reunite children with their parents. We never force a child to go home, only taking volunteers. The numbers are growing smaller for those wanting to go home. Our time here will come to a close at the end of this month. We will come to visit twice a year to update school fees for those we registered in school and renew their school supplies. We also want to disciple families when we are visiting the various villages. God has really done an amazing work here and it will not end with us I am sure. We have been praying for God to raise up another team to carry on this program or one similar to it after we leave.
As for me, I will be returning to the Yei Children’s Village as the new director and I look forward to being with my Yei family once again. This year has been a true adventure in grace for me. So many times I didn’t know if I could keep doing what I am doing. This is a very trying place to live and we live without modern conveniences. This is also a very poor area of South Sudan and it gets a bit overwhelming when you see such great need and know that you cannot help everyone. This is where so many times I have had to keep my eyes on Jesus. God has been asking me all year, “Do you trust Me?” I awake each morning and say, “I trust You God.” Is there any other choice? Blessed be our Lord!