Friday, September 24, 2010

Still Understanding Sudan

I have been back from Sudan for almost 6 weeks now.  Last Sunday at church I vividly relived an experience I had in Sudan.  It meant little to me at the time, but now I understand why I had it: so that I could know God's love for me more.

In the middle of worship the Lord revived my memory of the day I slaughtered a goat in Sudan.  It was so bloody, so messy, and just horrific.  The Father and the Son went through this horrible ordeal for me.  When I killed the goat, I felt it's life-blood on my hands.  I'm not about to get theological, but I wonder, did the Father feel the life of His Son in his hands?  They suffered so much.

I also remember, although I was not present for the experience, the second goat we slaughtered in Sudan.  I heard the story that Jonathan had the knife on the goat's neck when Donato came running: "Not that goat!  Not that goat!"  He came and spared the goat's life.  A different goat was killed.  That is what Jesus did for me.  When the knife was put to my throat, He came running, yelling "Not that goat!  Not that goat!  I love him!"  He came and He spared me, and placed Himself under the knife that was meant for me.  His life was taken.  Blood and water flowed from His side.  The Father watched as He died.

O Lord, your love is so good.

The Lord showed me these things and much more during worship last Sunday, and I left knowing His love for me unlike ever before.

I am back in SLO for college.  I am still working on a video documentary of my experience in Sudan.  It will be released soon.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

All Things to All People

"For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them...I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some." (1 Corinthians 9:19-22)

After teaching the pastors last week I became convicted of something.  I taught them two hours every day, but when it was lunch time I retreated to the compound where I ate tasty westernized food with my missionary friends.  In the meantime the pastors remained in the corner eating something else with the rest of the Dinka compound workers.  It seemed to counterfeit my love for them by not sharing their same meal.  So this week I have done differently.  I have instead been sharing my lunch with the pastors and eating their food.  They eat a bean/rice/lentil mush and a homemade bread.  It's pretty good!  They have no utensils, so there's lots of finger-licking (imagine eating refried beans with your hands).  But torn-off pieces of bread serve as edible scoopers.

On Monday they were very surprised.  Monica, who prepares the food, resisted me at first but I insisted, and she was very happy.  It's unusual for the Dinka to be sharing their lunch with a white person, but it has been a tremendous blessing to both them and me.

I am half-way finished in a survey of Luke.  Today I taught on parables from Luke 10-14.  The study has really changed my idea of ministry, service, and love.  It's been very good.

Two more days...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

One Gospel Down! One to Go...

Yesterday I finished teaching a survey of the Gospel of Mark to the 12 pastors here.  What a joy it was!  I learned very much.  They are all quite interested in understanding the scriptures and are (usually) pretty alert.  I teach after lunch for two hours, and every day they heartily greet me "my Teacher!"  I am glad that the scriptures have blessed them as much as they have considering some of them are twice my age.  At one point when Jesus teaches on divorce they were quite surprised when I revealed I'm single.  Laughter filled the room.  The culture here makes for so much comedy.  They (thankfully) had no questions on the passage, and with a smile I told them that if they did to talk to Sebit.  More smiles.

Today is a day of rest.  It is very good just to sit and savor the moment.  Oochi (the dog) chewing a bottle.  The kids jump-roping.  Donato fixing a bike.  An outbreak of centipedes from a nest under my feet.  Watching the clouds.  Seeing the lightning.  Anticipating the thunder.  Wow, loud thunder.  It is very good taking time to stop, eyes open.

Six days left, and then leaving on a jet plane!

Monday, August 2, 2010

First Day of Bible School

Wow.  I taught the pastors this afternoon for two hours from the Gospel of Mark.  I covered Mark 1-3.  I have been studying pretty intensely the past few days and have been richly blessed.  I am a teacher by day and a student by night; what a joy it is to be a conduit of God's Word and teaching others to know Him.

I suspect that I will be well exhausted by the end (as I should).  Please pray for energy and an increase of God's blessing.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What We (the Church) Really Need

I just finished preaching at the compound an hour ago.  As I was preparing the past 24 hours, I really couldn't figure out what to teach.  I didn't worry about it, and I didn't want to just teach something for the heck of it.  In faith I spent less time in forceful (fruitless) studying and spent more time praying and worshiping.  After dinner and a good conversation with Stephanie, I basically went to bed.  But that's not a fair depiction; I meditated and prayed in bed for a good while until I fell asleep.  I knew I needed to speak my heart, or rather God's heart in me.  Before falling asleep I thought I was to preach about transformation as a Christian.  And soon after I realized that even more than transformation, people need an encounter with Jesus.  An encounter with Jesus is transformation.  Whether it's a blind Bartimaeus, the demon-possessed man in the tombs, or Paul on the road to Damascus, Jesus brings transformation when people encounter Him.

In the morning I prepared a little for the message, brainstorming a few passages or ideas.  But 90 minutes before church started I stopped preparing.  I didn't even have a much written down.  But I knew my need to be with Him in that moment, and not just study Him.

That's what I need even more than study: actually abiding in Him and valuing His Presence.  He is where transformation is.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Bible School Approaching

This weekend about 15 pastors from Tonj and the surrounding region are coming to stay at the compound for 8 weeks.  This semester they will be surveying the New Testament, and Sebit has asked me to teach through Mark and Luke before I leave.  That means teaching an overview of one gospel a week, because I leave on August 13.  So...I've got my work cut out for me.  Please pray for my times of study to be anointed with worship and thanksgiving to the Lord as He speaks to me through His Word.  I'm on the home stretch!

Also, I am preaching this Sunday at the compound.  You can pray for that as well.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Few of the B-Stud Guys

Here's a pic of me with a few of the guys I'm discipling for my last three weeks in Sudan.  The boy in the chair is Donato.  He's the boy who was struck with a machete 1-2 years ago, who was brought to the clinic in Tonj and had his life saved.  He says he's truly thankful for the change of events in his life, otherwise he would have never known Jesus.  Now he's 13 years old.  He can be pretty shy at times, but he's definitely a keeper.

The first man to the right of me is Mobuir.  Today, Mobuir is very hungry to know God.  But his life as a child is a completely different story.  As a kid he burned down multiple homes in his village, including his own (twice).  It was deliberate.  He almost killed his sister with a spear as she slept, until his brother saw him and stopped him.  He later ran away from home to the town and similarly became a terror on the streets.  But eventually he made his way to Tonj and met Sebit and Suzy.  Soon after he also met Jesus.  Since then his life has been forever changed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Frog Race!

The rains have brought a ton of frogs to town.  Every night I almost step on one on my way to the bathroom.  They also have an affinity for my room sometimes, hopping up the steps at night and crawling under the door.

Well, last weekend I caught 6 frogs in preparation for a frog race.  My new big sis Stephanie and I thought it'd be a wonderful idea, and it was.  We had two rounds of races, with the second one being exclusive for the kids.  The chaos was incredible.  Frogs were traumatized in the process, but not hurt.  (Little Jedidiah preferred to shoo his frog along with his foot rather than clapping the ground behind the frog with his hands.  The poor little frog almost got booted the whole way to the finish line.)

For a very humorous read of Sudan's very first frog race, see Stephanie's blog.

Pastor's Workshop: Day Three

The pastors just left for home.  What a blessing it has been to be with them the past three days!  I have thoroughly enjoyed and been stretched in faith while teaching them.  But God has blessed beyond expectation, and many pastors expressed their very thankful and encouraged hearts.  Hearing their encouragement to me, and hearing of the ways God has blessed them this week, has turned my heart full of affection to God.  It is a powerful blessing to realize the reasons why He told me 16 months ago to come to Sudan.

And I am learning so much about following the Lord, being fully obedient and dependent on Him, and seeing Him come through in every situation.  Never fear!  Our God is an awesome God.

The picture is of me with a couple of the pastors last Sunday after church.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pastor's Workshop: Day One

Today Sebit invited the local pastors to come to the compound to have a three-day workshop where they can be encouraged in light of Pastor Peter’s sin three weekends past.  There were about 19 of them.  Paul led the morning session and I taught after lunch.  I preached on the subject of fear, and the reasons we have as Christians to fear nothing.  I don’t really think about how much time I’m taking when I preach; I just say what God shows me.  And if it’s short, it’s short. And if long, long.  But today I actually took the whole 90-120 minutes to preach (with Sebit translating).

The pastors were mightily encouraged, and I am so excited and thankful to see the Lord establish their hearts.  One church elder of the ECS Church, Deborah, shared that until today she feared the tragic events of three weeks ago, and even considered stepping down and returning to her village.  But today the Lord filled her heart with joy and praise.  All the pastors sang a song to the words of Psalm 95.  God is great!

They will return Tuesday and Wednesday as we encourage them more.  Not sure what to say tomorrow, but I’ll ask the Lord and He’ll answer.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Preaching at ECS Church

Today is a blessed day.  Sebit took me to the ECS Church this morning to preach (see my old blog about Pastor Peter’s sin).  It was the first church service in two weeks.  When I first woke up this morning, I quickly bulleted the words God put on my heart to speak the night prior.  But then I spent my last half hour in prayer and worship, blessing the Lord and asking Him to fill me with His Spirit.  While I prayed He showed me an upside-down cone that I saw to be a megaphone.  I realized that the Lord was promising me an authoritative voice, one like Jesus’, a megaphone to the heart.  He encouraged me and gave me love and boldness.

The service started very late, and I spent a lot of time waiting but enjoying every moment of the Lord.  The church elders then took me to a room to change (we all wore priestly robes, Sudan-style).  But next to the clothes in the room, the only other item present was a megaphone, turned upside down in the corner.  Of all the things to find in a poverty-stricken country, the Lord spoke to my heart this morning and confirmed again the megaphone He showed me while in worship.

Jesus is truly teaching me to fear no thing and no man, but to love Him fully.

I entered the church single-file with the elders, Episcopalian-style, and was seated at the front.  The people sang many songs in Dinka, beautiful and loud.  I worshiped in my heart.  There was reading of the scriptures I prepared to teach, and announcements, and then it was my turn to preach.

I preached with a translator, my new friend Michael.  God filled me with love, truth mingled with grace, and encouragement.  I then prayed for the church, along with Juda the new pastor.  More songs were sung, and I exited with the priestly procession to the back door, and there greeted each person as they left.

We then took off our priestly garb and walked to a nearby home to comfort a family who had lost a son in a recent cattle raid (apparently, when I visited the cattle camp earlier this week and danced with the people, that night some of the men retaliated against another camp due to past grievances and this boy was killed).  I was asked to encourage them and pray, and so prayed for the God of Comfort, the Holy Helper, to heal their hearts, replacing fear with love, and anger with peace.  I hope to return to them again.

Thank you for prayers.  They help me very much.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Next Phase of my Trip: the Pastor/Teacher

So far I have been very occupied as "the doctor" around the clinic—or at least so far as wound care and immunization is concerned.  But for the next three weeks I will be much more busy as a teacher and pastor.  Yesterday I started a discipleship group with many of the Sudanese nationals working on the compound.  It came about very quickly this week, so that I did not have much time to prepare.  But it seemed very good to me to focus on what it means to “love God with your heart, soul, mind.”  On Friday I asked all of them the purpose of life and answered with the Great Commandment.  Then I asked them, “what would your life look like if you did love God with your all?”  It is one thing to know and say “love God with my all.”  But that is knowing it in your mind.  What about your heart, and your soul?  What does it actually look like to love God entirely?

I didn’t answer that question for them, but I shared testimonies of men who have loved the Lord so that we could observe their lives and break the religious mindset of “being a Christian means going to church and doing good things.”  The Sudanese respond the most to story.  They weren’t raised with 12 years of education like Americans, and they have difficulty sitting still and learning from a teacher.  But tell a story, and everyone wakes up.  I shared three:
     1)  John Riak, a Sudanese man who acquired blindness and terminal heart disease at the age of 12, who was miraculously healed by God (but was still blind), was miraculously dictated the whole New Testament of the Bible by God (he saw the verses in Dinka before his blind eyes as if a finger read them to him), memorized all of it, and lived the rest of his days preaching the gospel, raising up pastors, and even healing the sick.  Sebit knew this man personally.
     2) Brother Yun, who is the subject of the book “The Heavenly Man,” who was miraculously saved in China a couple decades ago.  His life is one of unbelievable miracles, suffering, and persecution for the sake of the gospel.
     3) The calling of Jesus’ first disciples in Luke 5.

I then encouraged them that our Bible study will have this focus of loving God entirely and learning how to follow Him.  Please pray for us all.  We will meet every Tuesday and Friday.  Pray for me as I follow Jesus in leading these men.  Pray for a love to consume me for them.

I am also preaching tomorrow (briefly) at the ECS Church, and early this week Sebit is gathering all the town pastors together to encourage them and edify them in light of Peter’s sin two weeks ago.  Then, when the pastors arrive August 1, I will be teaching 1-2 times a day M-F in the Bible School.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Personal Record

Today sets a record personal high for number of patients seen.  Jessica went to the Malony outreach today and I stayed back at the compound.  I treated 20 wound patients and immunized 25 babies!  The patient volume has increased since I came here a month ago—we think because of having so many koo-wah-jah’s (white people) in town.

Tomorrow four people on the team I came with will be returning back to the United States: Tyler, Missy, Joe, and John.  Their airplane landed today, bringing Stacie, Dennis, Paul, and Elaine.  Tomorrow morning the four will fly out.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cattle Camp Visit and More

Yesterday we visited a temporary cattle camp just outside Tonj.  There were lots of cows (I found my Majok! the cow I am named after), lots of ripped young men, lots of dancing, and a bit of wrestling competition.  Again, we were very popular visitors.  We all at one point danced with the cattle men and women.  It was a lot of jumping/hopping.  The cattle men dance and wrestle multiple times a day this time of year, and eat and drink lots of meat and milk.  Many of them are very lean and strong.  The Dinka have a culture of aggressiveness, competition, etc and they still carry the tradition.  Sebit says the fierce nature of the culture is part of what allowed them to survive the war (and I still see it in the clinic...proud people, no tears, no crying).  However it also makes them very stubborn as well.

On Thursday we plan to visit the Bongo tribe, where there should be more cattle camps.  This weekend we were invited to preach at three churches (including the compound church), but this is too much for us; Sebit and I will be preaching between the compound church and the ECS Church.  The weekend after we may preach at the military base nearby.  Tyler, Missy, Joe, and John leave this Friday.  It will be sad to see them go.  Tyler has been a great roommate and friend.  August 1 the pastors return for the Bible school.  Sebit and I will be very active teaching them until I leave August 13.

Furthermore, last week one of the national clinic staff members, my good friend Deng, committed his life to Jesus!  The clinic and compound employs a number of Sudanese men and women and I have really enjoyed revealing Christ to them in whatever way possible.  Sebit and Suzy plan to have me disciple a number of them in the upcoming weeks.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Update from Preaching on Sunday

We had church in the compound as we normally do, and about 8 of the leaders/elders of the ECS Church attended.  I shared what was put on my heart for the day, but when I finished I felt the need to also share what was on my heart the previous Sunday, which I had no opportunity to speak (we canceled church that weekend).  It was well-received, and encouraging to the elders who came.  Sebit organized a meeting with them after the service and we discussed concerns over the future of the ECS Church.  Many encouraging words were shared and the church built up.  Juda will be taking the position of pastor over the congregation.  He is a good man.  This upcoming weekend I think Sebit and I will be preaching at ECS like we were invited to this past weekend (but couldn't).

There is a woman in the clinic right now who suffered very bad burns on her legs from boiling water.  She burned about 27% of her body.  Last week she never came in past Wednesday, even though we asked her to.  Today she came in with very bad infection in many of her burns.  She will be staying in the clinic and getting cleaned/dressed morning and evening until the infection is gone.  Eventually she may be transported to the hospital in Wau, which is better equipped to treat her.

Are burns any different from leprosy in God's eyes?  Please pray for her.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Small Change of Plans

Update: Peter and his surviving brother were both arrested by the police and put in prison.  Sebit and I hope to meet them, and the other man arrested, on Monday or Tuesday.

However, the authorities won't let us preach in the ECS church this Sunday.  Instead we will have church like normal in the compound, but we have invited the leaders of the ECS church to attend.  Sebit and I may meet separately with them after the service.

During the past two weeks God has placed a lot in my heart to share with the people here.  I'm praying and searching for discernment about how much to say.  There's two sermons-worth in my heart, and both are very relevant.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pictures of Sudan

I haven't as of yet posted many pictures, so here are some to make up for it.

Tyler Paulson and I standing outside the truck.  This is the truck we take to remote villages.

 Patients waiting under the mango tree in the morning outside the medical clinic.  3/5 days a week we often see over 150 patients.

This one's for Kristen :)  Cute little African babies playing soccer.

Walking on a bush path to Donato's home.

Another pic of me following Donato on the bush path.

Tyler taking pictures of Donato's family.

 Jessica suturing a young boy's thumb.  It was cut on a grass-cutting blade.  It's been four days since, it looks great, and no infection!

My new favorite animal: Horatio the Hedgehog.  Here he is in my hand.  However, Stephanie and I set him free eventually out of concern for his stomach/life.

Preaching at Peter's Church - Please Pray

I mentioned in an earlier blog that we had a man named Wilson admitted to the clinic very late Saturday night who had been struck on the head and died of his injuries.  Here is the full story as I know it, because I ask that you pray for us.

Wilson’s brother Peter was a pastor at a local Episcopal Church very close to the compound.  Sebit has known him for some time, although he seemed to be a proud man and refused to attend the Bible school (even though there once were over 100 other pastors from all over the region).  Some time ago, Peter impregnated a girl.  In the past few weeks it has been discovered that he impregnated a second girl named Rebekah.  Rebekah’s family was very upset with Peter because the dowry for a virgin is much more than for a woman who has already known a man (think 100 cows vs. 31 cows).  They expected Peter to keep his distance until their tempers cooled, but he did not.  Eventually things escalated and they tried to kill Peter.  He escaped, but they followed him to his family and Wilson was clubbed twice on the head.  Then the same night Wilson died in the clinic, Peter and a group of men sought retaliation; they went to Rebekah’s family’s house and attacked the first old man they saw.  He died the same night.  Peter is still at large and has not been seen, but he has been removed from the church and replaced by a man named Juda.  I have met Juda a handful of times; he seems to be a good man who knows the Lord from his heart, a family man, and well known by Sebit through the Bible school.  Lastly, the man who struck and killed Wilson was arrested in town and thrown into prison.  Also, understand that it is culturally expected that some form of retaliation occurs when a woman is impregnated outside of marriage.

Sebit has been invited to preach this Sunday at the Episcopal Church and he has extended the offer to me.  I am neutral in the eyes of both families, who will both be present at the church.  Please understand that I am very safe, but that I ask for you to pray for me as I prepare.  Pray for godly discernment but boldness to speak what the Lord is saying to the church at this time.  Pray for soft and repentant hearts.

Sebit tells me that many people will be concerned at how a pastor—of all people—has stumbled and done such a thing: who can they look to now?  Pray for Christ to be established in the hearts and minds of His people as head of the body.  There is also potential for the church to be split between those still loyal to Peter and those not.  Pray for unity.  There is also the issue of culture: how do we handle our culture and tradition in light of the gospel?  As the Lord says that every tribe and nation will be represented in heaven, the Dinka are unique; but pray that Christ becomes preeminent in all their life.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Donato's Bachelor Pad

Praise report: the medical and food supplies that have been stuck in Nairobi for months have finally been (mostly) approved—or at least enough approved to send the truck this Friday.

Today I didn’t work much in the clinic.  Jessica had me covered in wound care.  I spent a good chunk of the morning filming different aspects of the clinic, and getting some good footage of patients, the pharmacy, health education, wound care, etc.  I can’t wait to put together a documentary of my trip when I’m home.  Today I also visited the village home of a friend here, Donato.  He is a 13-year-old boy who had a severe head-injury from a machete around Christmas this past year.  He had a fractured skull, but has made a full recovery, is a delightful boy, and loves the Lord.  He led Sebit, Tyler, Missy, and me to his home this afternoon and we got to meet his family.  He built his own hut a few months ago, and so he showed us his “bachelor-pad” as Tyler put it.  It is so beautiful walking through the bush, seeing the village people, navigating through corn and peanut crops, chickens, goats, termite hills, stray dogs, the lush grass, and muddy paths.  A white person in Tonj is quite a celebrity, and everyone (especially the little ones) likes to say “Chebak!” to us.  I asked Sebit if Tyler and I could sleepover at Donato’s place, and he said “absolutely.”  Donato is somewhat shy, but I know he was very excited at the suggestion, as was his family.  Sebit tells me it will be best if we do it in a week or two.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rivers of Living Water

I led devotions this morning; it was my turn, and my first one since coming here.  I won't detail all of it, but here's some of it.

From John 7:37-39, Jesus says on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'"  He said this of the Holy Spirit, who would come to make residence in the hearts of all who would believe after him.

During the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests would draw water from the pool of Siloam and carry it to the Temple, where they would pour it on the altar--a place of sacrifice for sins.  Picture a river of water flowing from the altar of sacrifice.  From the place of sacrifice, a river of life flows.  Jesus says, "Come to me...and a river of life will flow."  Our crucified savior, the place of sacrifice, is where a river of life flows.  I make this point, because this living water comes only from Him.  To receive it, we must come to Jesus.

But once we come to Him, we must also drink.  Lord forgive us for having come to the water of life so many times and leaving without drinking!  Some of us do not have the river of life Jesus promises, because we have stopped drinking.  Indeed, even a believer can have a lifeless heart if we are not abiding, being filled, drinking.  We want to be people who bring life; too many people have rivers of death instead of rivers of life from the heart: anger, frustration, rudeness, impatience, etc.  But "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc " (Gal 5:22).   But we must drink.

What does that mean?  How am I "filled of the Spirit?"  I'm learning what this means, but flip to Ephesians 3:14-19.  If we want to be "filled with all the fullness of God" we must become "rooted and grounded in love...and know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge."  We must know and be continually experiencing the love of Jesus.  By "abiding" in His love (see John 15) we are filled of Him and filled of His Spirit.

How do we know that we are filled of the Spirit?  This is what I love.  Jesus says (back from John 7:38), "out of his heart."  Did you get that?  He said "out" not "in."  It's not how much flows in, but how much flows out that we know.  Do not measure your life against how much church, devotions, study, prayer, etc goes into your life (indeed, we could do all these things and rarely ever drink), but by how much love and fruit of the Spirit that flows out.

When Jesus' heart was pierced on the cross by the Roman's spear, blood and water poured out.  Meditate on that for a while.

If we want to be filled, and if we want to know the love of God, we need to become a people that lets love flow forth like a mighty river from the heart.

Since coming to Sudan, I have realized how much I have underestimated and undervalued the power and supremacy of love (see 1 Corinthians 13).  It's easy at home.  Let's debate predestination and freewill.  Let's fight and divide over spiritual gifts, the supernatural, and denomination.  Forgive me, I do not mean to belittle these things; it is important that we individually wrestle with and know God.  But when you leave the States and see God in a poor place, many of these things fade away.  Jesus Christ comes plainly and powerfully into view, and I realize how distracted I was by some things, how afraid I was of what certain people thought, and now all I want to do is know the love of Christ and make His love known.

I no longer want to be a person who leaves church each Sunday and says, "that was a good message."  I want to drink deep of the love of Christ and be filled and be changed so that rivers of life flow forth from my life.  What are we going to talk about and remember when we're in heaven?  Gifts? Prophecy?  Predestination?  I think that is part of what Paul is getting at in 1 Corinthians.

Ok, maybe I did detail most of it, and then some.  You don't have to be in Sudan to know the Lord and follow Him.

Just for One Boy

I have less time to write today (internet usually fails at 6pm Sudan time) because I just had a wonderful conversation with my mother and sister, despite a very choppy skype connection.  I am beginning to have more perspective on some things God is teaching me here, so I will hopefully write soon regarding them.

Today the clinic had less patients, as expected on a Tuesday.  Wound care was half as busy as yesterday.  Since wound-cleaning is typically an every-other-day procedure, I see most patients MWF, not TR.  However, we had many more emergencies today.  With the recent rains, there is an increase of mosquitoes and an increase of malaria.  Many young children are suffering now, particularly of a strain of malaria that also causes pneumonia.  One young girl died yesterday morning, and today we had another six or so in the clinic.  Some of them will likely be staying overnight.  Please pray towards this.

One neat factoid, is that since the clinic first opened (I think 2005), In Deed and Truth has registered over 16000 patients from Tonj and the surrounding area.

I should spend some time to share about Sebit and Suzy.  I have learned their stories piece-wise while here, and I enjoyed a wonderfully long conversation with Sebit after lunch on Sunday.  He became a Christian in the late 1980s during a revival in Khartoum.  Many southern Sudanese people were coming to know the Lord, and he recounted many miracle-testimonies of men he knew who were transformed by Jesus.  Even many Muslim people came to believe Jesus.  One Muslim was hired by the government to spy on the Christians and discover how they were thriving in the slums and city areas.  In a week his life was transformed, believed Jesus, and was thrown into prison by the ones who hired him!  His nephew also came to believe through his conversion.  During this time, Sebit went door-to-door with his brother and others to share the gospel with the Dinka and other southern Sudanese peoples.  Sometime later he had opportunity to escape the war and go to Australia for safety.  However, he needed a little more money to go.  He found a job as a translator in Tonj with Safe Harbor.  When he saw the poverty and famine of his people there, and how white people were leaving their homes to come and help them (and how he and his kinsmen sought only to flee to safety), he was cut to the heart and felt a deep sense of shame.  From that time on he has been committed to the people of south Sudan and particularly Tonj.

Sebit and Suzy have shared a couple of unbelievable stories of how the Lord has been faithful here.  One story, which brought tears to my eyes, happened about 5 years ago.  Sebit and Suzy just returned to Tonj from Kenya after a short retreat.  Upon arrival, they found themselves in the middle of a meningitis outbreak.  None of them were vaccinated--it had never been a problem in the region.  Their newborn son Jedidiah was too young for the vaccine, and neither was Hannah immunized.  All their friends in the States and around the world were telling Sebit, "Get your family out of there!"  He told Suzy he would respect whatever she decided for the kids, and whether they would leave.  But, as Suzy tells the story, she looked at their faces--the Sudanese--and she told Sebit "If we leave now, I could never come back and look these people in the eye; I cannot abandon them."  So they stayed.  None of them got sick.  They had patients strung up with IVs hanging from trees, and God preserved their lives.

There is a little line from John Piper that I always remember...I know not where it comes from or the context.  All he said was "...and if I perish, I perish!"  How important it is to pick up our crosses daily, and to follow Him, at whatever the cost.  He is faithful, even in death.

Today, while leaving the clinic for lunch, I met a boy named Paul who speaks English.  He must have been about 9.  I told him, "that is a good name!  Do you know the story of the man you are named after?"  He told me, shyly but with a grin, what he knew about Paul of Tarsus from the Bible.  And I shared his conversion story with him.  I loved him so much, and asked to pray for him.  I prayed many things--powerful, humble things--for this boy and his life; that God might grow him up to be a man who loves Him.  A man like Paul, who suffered for the gospel, for the love and glory of Jesus Christ.  The whole day was worth it, just for this one boy.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Three Deaths in One Night

Last night we returned from dinner at the local Catholic Mission and upon arrival discovered a patient had been admitted with severe head injuries.  His name is Wilson, and I actually dressed a wound on his leg earlier this week.

In Sudan, if a man wants to marry a woman he has to pay a certain number of cows as a dowry to the woman's family...let's say 100 cows.  However, if he impregnates her, she isn't "worth" as much and then only costs 31 cows.  Many young men cannot afford the steep price of 100 cows, so they are encouraged to impregnate her.  But when they do so, the woman's family usually retaliates.  Her brothers will go after the brothers of the young man, so that he has to live with the guilt of their suffering.

Last night, Wilson was attacked and struck twice on the head because his brother Peter impregnated a girl.  Wilson suffered a skull fracture and internal bleeding.  My heart was burdened to pray for him, so I spent the night in the clinic.  Tyler and I began praying for him 11:11pm on Saturday.  He died 12:25am this morning.

A few hours later, Peter retaliated back and killed a man unrelated to the girl, but of the same tribe.  He took the girl and ran away.  Many of the men from both families have left town in order to protect themselves.  We postponed church this morning just to be safe.  At the time we still had a dead body in the clinic, and if we were allowing people to come to church there might be someone who could sneak in to do something to or with the body (so I'm led to think).  So we locked the gates and postponed church.  I am very safe, so there's no need to worry.  But please pray for the situation, for repentance, and that it doesn't escalate.

An infant also died this morning of malaria, and the mother was heard grieving for a half-hour.

A good friend of mine just posted an update of his missionary travels in Tanzania, which blesses me very much.  Love is the greatest gift (1 Cor 13), and we too easily undervalue and underestimate it.  You can read it here:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Come, Follow Me

Tomorrow I will be teaching in church.  Below is a quickly-written sermon of me talking through what's on my heart to share.  It's incomplete at the end, and I may not have opportunity to finish it online.  Please pray for the hearts of those listening tomorrow.  What God has been teaching me privately, which tomorrow I am sharing publicly, is very important.
 Matthew 19:16-24

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”  And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good?  There is only one who is good.  If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”  He said to him, “Which ones?”  And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  The young man said to him, “All these I have kept.  What do I still lack?”  Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
    There is a difference between believing in Jesus and actually following Him.  Many people would say that “I believe in Jesus” or “I believe in God,” but even Satan and his demons believe in Jesus (James 2:19).  So there must be a difference.  I have noticed here in Sudan that most everyone will say “I believe in Jesus,” but how many of us are genuinely following Him?  And what does “following Jesus” mean?

    Jesus told this man to follow the commandments, and He tests him against the Ten Commandments, but then only half of them—the half that deals with man’s relationship to his neighbor (the first half deals with man’s relationship to God).  And the young rich man does admirably towards his fellow man, but still he says to Jesus, “what do I lack?”

    We often fail to recognize that the greatest commandment is in Deuteronomy 6:4, which Moses gave to the Israelites 3500 years ago.  He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  And 1500 years after Moses, when Jesus was asked, He also said the greatest commandment is to “love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).  Many people say “I believe in Jesus,” but do you love Him?  Because the one thing that God has desired more than anything else for all time has been that you love Him entirely.  Yes, it is important that we do good works, but Jesus says “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  So what God really cares about is your heart.

    The young rich man’s problem is not that he is rich and has many things, it is that he loved his many possessions more than he loved Jesus!  And this is idolatry!  And this is sin.  Jesus tells the man, “leave everything behind; and come, follow Me,” and he could not do it.  Having wealth is not sin; God judges the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).  But the same could be said of Sudan.  If you have many cows, or even if you have only one cow, and Jesus said, “give it away and come, follow Me,” could you do it?  Would you follow Him?  Or would you choose your cows?  Some will object that “this is culture”—yes it is.  And will you choose your culture, or will you choose your God?

    I come from a different culture.  My culture tells me to party at every opportunity, to get drunk, to abuse drugs, to get as much sex as I can (and outside marriage).  I have some friends who go to university, not to glorify God, but to glorify themselves—to become rich, to have a big house and many cars, so that other men will honor and respect them.  They would rather have glory from men than approval from God.  But again, God looks at the heart.

    Jesus goes further.  In Matthew 10:37-38 He says, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”  Why?—why does God say this?  Because, as the Bible says, “The Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24).  He loves you, and He wants all of you—all your heart, mind, and soul—so much that He even became a man Jesus Christ who suffered with us, healing sickness and disease, removing shame and fear and sin, and freeing us from death.  He is the demonstrated love of God (Romans 5:8).  He lives today, and He wants to take residence in your heart.  Some of you say, “I go to church” “I go to mass” “I have times of devotion” “I pray” and God says, “That’s not enough for Me.  I want your heart.”  And that’s the one thing the young rich man could not give.  He wasn’t a murderer.  He wasn’t a thief.  He didn’t lie.  He probably went to synagogue.  But when Jesus looked at him and said, “Leave behind your possessions; I want to be your first love; and come, follow Me,” he couldn’t do it.

Busy Busy Week in the Clinic

This week we had about 150 patients every day in the clinic except for Friday.  I was made to take Monday off from work to rest a little more from my recent illness, and Tuesday I returned to work.  Jessica and I saw 15-25 wound patients each day.  We have had a couple more colorful injuries recently.  One woman has a few lacerations on her palm/fingers due to a fight involving a knife.  Jessica and the twins sutured her and she comes in for cleaning daily.  Another man sustained a pretty serious 2nd degree burn to his outside ankle, which I had the honor of "debris-ing" and cleaning (I got to scrub off the charred skin and blisters. very nasty. a bit of blood).  Yesterday afternoon a woman came in very nonchalantly with a deep and wide 6-inch laceration on her foot from a puncture wound at a construction site.  She was very good humored and funny.  I like her a lot.  There's another man with partial amputation on two fingers who comes in for cleaning.  And then we have lots of children with cuts and open wounds on their legs and feet.

I have found that the Sudanese people are wonderful patients (as far as wound cleaning is concerned).  They don't speak much of any English, so that they don't complain.  They don't really understand or have a culture of medicine, so that can't easily know when I'm doing something right or wrong.  And they also have an unbelievable tolerance for pain (some exceptions to the younger generation, whose culture is changing much faster than their parents' generation).  They don't cry.  They limit their screams or don't scream it all.  It's amazing.

However, there was on boy on Wednesday who needed a tetanus shot, who was afraid to the point of rebellion; he wouldn't let us do it.  He didn't fight, but he insisted 'no.'  So instead, I told him, "If I get the shot first, will you do it?"  I asked him 2-3 times.  His eyes were so sad.  But I looked him in the eye, and he finally agreed.  So Jessica gave me a shot with sterile water in the shoulder, and then I gave him his tetanus shot.  Success.  Sebit explained to me the week before that the culture has a large fear of spears and dying by them; some patients greatly fear needles for this reason.  I don't know what this boy saw or went through to make him so deathly afraid, but I'm glad he was able to overcome it.

BTW, today I went poop for the first time since I got sick on Saturday (about 6 days ago).  So it's official: I'm fully recovered.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Psalm 28:7

I prayed for an infant yesterday who had pneumonia and malaria.  She died shortly after dinner.  I had a difficult time dealing with it initially.  But I know, believe, and see God’s mercy in everything.  I do not think that I, a Christian, should ever reserve right to be disappointed or pessimistic.  Don’t get me wrong—there is a time for mourning and sadness.  But should I ever reserve the right before God to say He is mistaken, or that His purposes are not good?  Never.  I will believe in every circumstance, whether dismal or bright, and praise the Lord and thank Him for His lovingkindness.  He never fails.

We continue to have intermittent problems with the generators.  Pray that they are permanently fixed.  Also, pray for a supply truck that has been delayed for months in Nairobi.  We are running quite low on food and medical supplies.

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Ever I Wanteth"

"For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God." (Deuteronomy 4:24)

Nothing less than my whole heart will satisfy my God.  He is jealous for all of me.  He says, "It's not enough for Me for you to go to church and do your church thing, or pray, or set apart time to think about my Words in your Bible.  It's not enough for Me for you to do your Christian duty and maintain your Christian status amongst your peers.  I want your heart, and nothing less than all of it will do.  For I am a jealous God, and a consuming fire."

Two chapters later in Deuteronomy (6:5) the Israelites are given the commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."  Fourteen hundred years later, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment of the Law is, and he says the same: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37).  It has never changed.  The one thing God desires most is a heart that is fully given over to Him.  This is what Christ died for.

And so my Savior says: "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it"  (Matthew 10:37-39).

What holds us back?  Fear.  Fear of danger.  Fear of poverty.  Fear of cold.  Fear of homelessness.  Fear of disease.  Fear of '______'.  In my life, it has been most strongly the fear of man--not just of those outside the church, but even more of those inside the church.  But God is showing me now that He is taking away this fear.  He says, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18).  As He tenderly calls out for me to give Him more of my heart, I see that my fears subside and they give way to His love.

The interesting thing, is that as much as God is jealous for my heart, I see how needy I am for His.  The truth is, just as Lady Julian said so long ago, that I could have all things, but even then "ever I wanteth" for the heart of God.  And for the Sudanese man who says, "Give me my medicine.  Give me my education.  Give me my ticket to America.  Etc."  Even if I could give him all these things, and he not take Jesus, even then his heart would cry, "ever I wanteth."

Recovering from an Amoeba, Generators Out

Last week on Monday night I became very sick and feverish until morning.  But the rest of the week was more mild until Saturday night (7/3).  I was having increasing worse and more frequent stomach cramps and issues with diarrhea.  I updated Caleb, our clinical worker, and he suggested I start using Cipro.  As we were walking over to the pharmacy, however, I began vomiting very strongly.  I vomited twice more before falling asleep that night, and slept very restlessly.  I have been in bed almost every since, until this afternoon.  I have since regained my strength, but am still tired and disoriented a little, having to move slowly.  But I am recovering, and feeling much better.  Sebit tells me my symptoms are a lot like a certain amoeba.  I have been awake for the last 3-4 hours today, and have been very blessed by the Lord, speaking to Him and hearing from His Word.

Secondly, the generators have ceased functioning properly, so that I am running completely on battery on my laptop.  I have 74% battery left, but if the generators are not fixed in the next week, I may be unable to update my blog or check email.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Brief Description of my Weekly Activities

I just wrote a blog about last night's outreach to Agor, but I have not yet described what I do on a typical day.  Every weekday I work in the clinic, often with Jessica and Richard (a Sudanese compound worker named Mobit).  First we do wound care: cleaning and dressing old and new wounds.  This usually occupies us until 11 or sometimes past noon.  Afterward we do baby immunizations for OPV and DPT.  On a busy day we'll clean 12-15 patients' wounds and immunize 20 babies.  Since the clinic opened in about 2005, it has registered over 15,000 patients in Tonj and the surrounding region.

Mondays are our busiest days, since we are closed (except for emergencies) on Saturday and Sunday.  Wednesday and Friday are also busy, and Tuesday/Thursday are generally slower.  In addition to this, on Thursdays half of us go to Malony to operate a mobile clinic in the village there.

I am usually unneeded in the clinic by the mid-afternoon, at which point I rest, write, blog, play, watch the World Cup, read, study scripture, or pray.  Sometimes I get to do errands with Sebit around town, announcing outreaches and such.  And each evening we usually have some weekly event planned, whether a time of prayer/worship, a movie night, a game night, etc.

Saturdays are kind of miscellaneous to me, and could be a lot of things.  Sundays we have church in the compound, with lots of little children, and someone teaches from the Bible (last week was Sebit).  Sunday afternoon is also a time of rest and fun, family-style, with the team.  Last week we went with Sebit and Suzy and the kids to the swamp (actually very scenic) and had a picnic.  Below is a picture Tyler took of me sneaking up on Dut, our security officer.

Jesus Film Outreach in Agor

Last night was quite the adventure.  Sebit took myself, Tyler Paulson, the twins, and three pastors to the (very) remote village of Agor to show the Jesus Film, translated into Dinka.  We rode the jeep two and a half hours into the bush, mostly westerly from Tonj on the way to Wau.  It felt like driving through Jurassic Park, and was by far the most wild off-roading experience I have ever been on.  We drove there in the daylight, and returned in the dark of night, and only twice went the wrong way.

When we arrived in Agor we were greeted by 200 singing men, women, and children.  The sound of the drums, voices, claps, and stomps was unbelievable.  I was able to record 2-3 songs on my camcorder.  After welcoming us in song they then welcomed us in dance, which was equally indigenous and wonderful to experience.  Their dancing consists of rapid and heaving stomping--almost aggressive--but very captivating to westerners like myself.

Immediately after introductions, a mother came to us with a young child who was very ill and near death.  We were unable to treat her there, but laid hands on her and prayed for God to heal her.  Her name is Mary, and she couldn't be much older than 4 or 5 years.

We then began to setup the equipment for the movie.  Never in the history of this tribe had anyone ever seen a movie, so it was a largely-attended event.  However, we were unable to get the generator to start after our long and rugged trek into the wilderness.  So instead, Tyler, myself, the twins, and Sebit taught from the scriptures and shared the gospel with the people.  This village is home to some of the pastors what went with us, and they were able to translate into the local dialect.  Tyler and I have many questions for Sebit concerning the Sudanese church and God's work in Africa, and I am not ready to blog about it, but we are learning a great deal about the spiritual condition of the people here.  Sebit taught in church at the compound last weekend that even in Sudan, Christianity is "a mile wide and an inch deep."  I am discovering that to be a very true statement, and one that poses a number of challenges to the gospel here.  It is amazing how religious tradition can sometimes blind the heart from realizing the depth and immanence of God's love.

After we taught the villagers, they sang more songs and thanked us.  The chief spoke as well.  He explained that the gospel first came to their village in 1999, and since that time they have had very infrequent interaction with missionaries or Biblical teaching.  He was thankful for the words that we spoke to them, considering how rare an opportunity it is to hear about Jesus from the outside world.  Never in the history of this village had a white man ever visited, and had they known that four of us were coming they would have "been backed up all the way to the road," so well over a thousand people, he joked.  Being so far from the more connected parts of Sudan, like Tonj or Wau, their greatest difficulty is having no access to medicine and extremely limited education.  However, it is encouraging to know that the pastors of this village are enrolled in In Deed and Truth's Bible school for village pastors.  They are in session 8 weeks at a time, 4 weeks apart.  I will have the opportunity to teach in it before I leave.

They then sang more songs to God in Dinka, and we took down the equipment.  Before leaving we had one more round of dancing.  Sebit jumped in the middle and gave his best Agor-ian dance, and after him Tyler and I gave it a shot as well...but it quickly derailed and transformed into us running in place and stomping wildly.  They found it hugely entertaining, and some of the boys after us did the same.

We then took our positions in the car and made the long, 2.5 hour trek back to Tonj.  We made it back at 2:15am.  I have never been beaten up by anyone, but traveling in the backseat of that car for 7 hours yesterday (I also did the weekly Malony outreach) was like having the snot beat out of me,  am sure.  When we got home, Tyler and I both slept like a rock.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Under the Weather and God's Work in the Clinic

The weather has been relatively pleasant for us Californians.  We have had rain almost every-other-day since arriving, which makes for cooler weather at night.  By "cool" I mean low 70s.  When it is hot, it's upper 90s, although I don't have a thermometer with me.

Tyler Paulson and Missy Nickerson have both been very sick for a day in the past week.  Our immune systems have been to adjust to African germs since arriving.  Both of them were completely knocked out for a 24+ hour period.  I lost a lot of sleep one night with a fever, but that is about it; I've had it easier.  Diarrhea is often an issue, so we are encouraged to talk about our poop a lot.

Last week I learned a lot about how to work in the clinic: dressing wounds, working the pharmacy, giving shots and vaccinations, etc.  This week I am learning how to meet the spiritual needs of patients.  When Jesus began his ministry he said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel," and what I love about this is not only did Jesus come proclaiming the message of the kingdom (the gospel), but he also brought the kingdom of heaven into peoples' lives (healing, freedom from oppression, food for the hungry multitude, etc).  Right now I am how to appreciate both of these truths in my day-to-day activities in the clinic.  Medicine can care for the physical needs of patients (although even then it is limited), and now I am finding opportunity to meet that with the spiritual: with prayer, encouragement, and the Word.

P.S. The World Cup outreach has been postponed due to technical difficulties and poor weather.  When it rains in Sudan, everything stops.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Goat Blood, Racing, and Sutures

This morning was a special morning.  When Sebit and Suzy have a team with them it is tradition to slaughter a goat and eat it for dinner.  No one really wanted to do it, so two days ago I volunteered.  Suzy has one goat in particular that really annoys her, so we picked that one.  They are smart enough to know when they are about to be slaughtered, so it made a lot of crying for a half hour this morning as we prepared and Sebit sharpened the knife.  Two compound workers pinned it down on a clean metal plate and exposed it neck...and omitting some descriptive words that may unsettle some of my readers, I slaughtered the goat.  I made it quick.  It was very bloody.  If anyone would like to see the pictures or a video I can show you in the states.

This morning before the goat slaughtering, a few of us went on a run with Sebit and Suzy.  Sudanese do not exercise, because they live lifestyles of exercising (walking many miles, carrying water, farming, etc).  So it is a peculiar thing for us to run in the morning; but we enjoy saying "Cheebak" (good morning) to all we encounter on the road.  This morning, on the return, a boy named Kuol decided to run with us crazy white people.  I caught up to him, and then we started racing.  He was fast! and much more fit than I am.  But we had much fun running together, and I practiced my Dinka with him, and he his English.

On Saturdays the medical clinic is closed except for emergencies.  This morning a seven-year-old boy came in who had injured himself with a farming hoe.  He had lacerated his big- and index-toe very deeply, and needed stitches.  I was lucky enough to be doing an errand in the clinic when he came in, and Caleb, our equivalent to a Physician Assistant, invited me to watch.  I also got the medical schooling twins to observe.  The boy was very afraid, and cried out very much.  There was pain, but it was very increased by his fear; dying by a spear is greatly feared among the people here, so the notion of being "speared" by needles and sutures is sometimes very concerning.  He was given local anesthesia, and Caleb stitched him up.  One and a half toes into it I got a little queasy and stepped out for some air.  I saw a lot of blood today, including the goat, and I needed a break.  I have seen and studied these things in textbooks, but never in person.

Tomorrow we are doing a "World Cup Outreach" at a local church, where we will be broadcasting the games using our satellite dish.  During halftime Sebit will be sharing the gospel through a series of "commercials."  Right now Tyler, Sebit, myself, and a handful of others are filming them using my video camera.  Pray for a great response tomorrow!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wound Care and Football

Today was assigned to wound care in the clinic.  Jessica helped me with my first one and taught me how to clean and bandage wounds, and by the end the afternoon I had cared for 7 patients.  I bandaged two fingers, a number of legs, a knee, and a heel.  Half of the injuries were from motorbikes; in the past two years there has been a large increase of vehicles on the road (and also the quantity and quality of roads), and there are not any laws governing licenses or the road.  There is no DMV, but there are many accidents.

One boy came in who had been hit by a motorbike four days prior.  He had a deep half-dollar sized gash in his knee, and a deep cut on his heel.  The knee was infected, and the flesh gray and smelly.  I cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide and pulled out the debris, and then bandaged it with sterile gauze and betadine (similar to iodine, kills bacteria).  He was also given antibiotics.  He will come back Monday and I'll redress him until he heals.

In the afternoon Sebit took the twins and me out into town to tell people about a "World Cup Outreach" we are doing this Sunday.  We also went to a football (soccer) field in the neighborhood and played with the locals.  We played with all ages, from about 7 up to 20, and had lots of fun.  There were three teams, and the losing team walked off the field and the resting team walked on.  My team won one and lost one.  I have not played soccer competitively since I was 12, and was very rusty, and very out of shape, but greatly enjoyed the game.  It was late afternoon and the sun was soon setting, so that it strained and pierced through the clouds in the horizon.  It was very beautiful.  The people here are very beautiful.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Outreach to Malony

Today I went with half of the medical clinic staff to a village 45 minutes outside Tonj called Malony.  There has been a lot of construction in the last couple years, and we were able to drive 2/3 of the way on a paved dirt road.  We had to off-road the last third to the village.

This was the first time we had ever done an outreach in this village, even though our government-paid security guard lives in it.  His name is Dut, and he is quite silly and very fun.  I worked in the pharmacy again.  I also was able to share the gospel using an “evangecube” which was translated into Dinka.  A surprising number of children and adults knew some English—even enough for a complete conversation.  I made friends with a boy named Michael and with the headmaster Barnaba.  Barnaba took to liking me, and offered to pay 50 cows for the dowry of my first Sudanese wife.  He said, “you will stay here, and you will become Sudan.”  He was very kind, and very thankful to have me share the gospel with the children and adults.  Michael asked me for my Christian name, and I told him it is “Daniel.”  Then I shared the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, and the children really enjoyed it; especially the part when God shuts the lions’ mouths.

It eventually began raining and we had to close the clinic.  But we had a puncture in one of the vehicle tires and had to wait for Sebit and our driver to be fixed.  There was a portable metal room at the village that In Deed and Truth had brought a few months ago to use as a temporary medical facility, and we took shelter in it.  A Sudanese mother and her children joined us inside for the hour we had to wait.  She had a delightful young girl perhaps 3 years old.  While sitting in a chair I held out my hand to her and she came close to stand by my legs and eventually hug them.  But she soon began reaching up to climb into my lap, so I picked her up and played with her for a while.  She was very calm, and she eventually fell asleep in my arms for a half hour.  I had much of that time to pray for her.  She will likely grow up and not remember me, but I was happy to pray that she grows up to know her heavenly Father’s embrace as she today knew mine.

It is very hard to believe I had been here only two full days.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

First Day in the Clinic

So today I was assigned to wound care.  Since we had heavy rain last night there were fewer patients today (Sudanese don't like rain).  But there were still over 60 who came in.  There was one boy this morning that had a laceration on his foot from stepping on a glass bottle while playing soccer.  I did not clean his wound, but observed as Jessica did.  She is a nursing student from New Mexico who is also here for two months.  The bulk of the day I spent in the pharmacy counting and pre-packing pills for the prescriptions made by our doctors (who are twins from the USA in their second year of medical school).  While in the pharmacy my Dinka friends taught me about marriage, education, and culture in Suadn, and we had a lot of fun.  Most Dinka do not speak English, but the ones working at the compound know enough for a good conversation.  They serve as translators for us in the clinic, and our Dinka tutors.

In the afternoon I got to administer DPT vaccinations to two infants.  This would be totally illegal in the United States, but Jessica taught me how to give a shot and I vaccinated the next two babies that came in the clinic.  Very exciting!

Tomorrow we are doing an outreach and mobile medical clinic at a village outside Tonj called Maloney.

The language barrier is the hardest obstacle to overcome so far.  Please pray for God to provide ways to communicate with the local men and women.

I somehow forgot my USB cable for my camera, so I have been unable to upload pictures.  But I should be able to find one from someone on my team.

First Update from Tonj, Sudan

Today I arrived in Tonj, Sudan!  The team and I flew from Nairobi, Kenya this morning with Missions Aviation Fellowship (MAF) through Juba and into Tonj in South Sudan.  The sights of the African bush were quite amazing from the air: an amorphous blend of grass, tree, and floodplain speckled with rural huts and aluminum shelters.  Halfway through we crossed the Nile as well.
Upon landing in Tonj we were met by Sabet and Suzy Kuj along with a number of their staff and friends.  We were then driven to the compound, ate a pumpkin-soup lunch, toured the facilities, met all the staff, and were given an orientation.  I estimate the compound is at least 5 acres large, although I have not walked through all of it.  All our housing and living facilities are contained in the interior, which is then flanked on a couple sides by either the medical facilities, or land set apart for future projects.  In Deed and Truth is in the process of building a new permanent medical facility, and has plans for digging “boar-holes” (a very deep well) or other projects.

There are many Dinka men and women who volunteer at the compound, including some men from Kenya who mostly help in the medical clinic.  Right now there are over 25 of us staying at the compound, though that number will decrease in the upcoming days as previous workers go home or take a break.  When we were being introduced to the current staff, we were each given a Dinka name.  My name is Majok, which translates as a cow with a black head a white torso, and a black lower half.  The Sudanese men had a lot of fun naming us.

At 5:00pm we had a heavy downpour of rain that lasted less than an hour.  By San Diego standards is was comparable to El NiƱo.  There are also lots of (flying) bugs.  The 90+ degree weather also means that I live swimming in a thin film of sweat.  I just took a shower and dried off, but am already sticky again.  It is very humid after the late evening rain.

I am sharing a room with Tyler Paulson, a good friend from San Diego.  Our roof leaks in one spot, but is otherwise fine, and we sleep under mosquito nets for protection from bites and malaria (we are all on malaria medication, which is effective, but limiting our risk to exposure is still wise).

Tomorrow each of us begins with our duties around the compound.  I have been assigned to wound care/cleaning for the week, which I am very excited for.

I have internet access while here, although it seems to fail randomly throughout the day, and mostly at night.  I am writing this blog on Tuesday, although the internet is out at the moment and I’ll have to post later.

AND, my brother will be very pleased to know that we have a TV connection and can watch the World Cup.

Certainly another update is forthcoming after working in the clinic and seeing what my time here will look like.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Twenty-Three Hours to Launch!

Dear friends and family,

    Tomorrow I get on a plane to leave for Sudan!  My departure is 23 hours away!  You have all blessed me very much the past few weeks as I have prepared to leave, and I leave with my hopes set high on the Lord.

    My plane leaves Saturday morning, and I will reach Nairobi, Kenya on Sunday at midnight (2:00pm CA time).  I spend the night there at a missions compound and leave the next morning by plane for Sudan.  When I arrive in Tonj, Sudan on Monday the 21st I will remain there for two months until I return home around August 15.

    The best way to stay connected with me is to follow my blog at  You may also email me at  I should have decent access to the internet while in Sudan.

    Six other young people are flying out at the same time as me: my good friends Missy Nickerson and Tyler Paulson, two second-year medical school students from Ohio and New York (who are actually twins), a woman attending nursing school in New Mexico, and another woman who is committing two years in Sudan to serve as a midwife.  We will all meet in Kenya at the missionary house before flying into Sudan.

    I have much peace about going, and it is very exciting to see this trip come together after almost 2 years of praying and waiting.  I will be taking many pictures/video while there, and would like to host a coming-home party at my house in San Diego to share about my trip (I will likely do this again in San Luis Obispo in the fall).

    I cannot wait to update you from the bush!

Daniel Crawford

P.S.  There is a wonderful 20-minute documentary made by a Kenyan company covering Sabet and Suzy’s ministry in Sudan.  You can view it below.

Ministry Documentary from In Deed And Truth Ministries on Vimeo.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Update on Support - Almost There!

Hello friends and family,

This is an update on my support raising for my trip to Sudan beginning June 19 (eighteen days until I leave!). Thank you again to those of you who have already contributed to my trip financially. And thank you to those of you who have found other ways to show your love and support.

The total cost of my eight week trip is $4500. That includes all my transportation, lodging, food, visas, and vaccinations. I can afford to pay up to $2500 of the cost, so I have been asking for $2000 to $2500 in support from friends and family. At the time of this writing, $1821 has been donated to send me to Sudan. So I am almost there!

If you have been planning to support me financially, this week is the week to send in your donation. I have set Friday, June 4 as the deadline to have donations in the mail, so please try to send it in this week.

In the case that I pay the remaining $2500, I have saved enough money to return to Cal Poly in the fall. I also have a job secured at school in the Chemistry department upon my return. Right now I only need $179 more to reach my minimum in financial support.

Checks should be made out to In Deed and Truth Ministries. Just leave my name in the memo. Cash is fine too. All donations are tax-deductible and can be delivered to me or mailed to the following address:

In Deed and Truth Ministries
P. O. Box 51253
Colorado Springs, CO 80949-1253

Thank you for your support, your letters, and your “I’m praying for you” cards. Many of you have given even while having very little, and I am tremendously humbled, blessed, and encouraged. I look forward to this summer with great excitement. My hope is set high on the Lord!

If you are interested in the kind of work I will be doing in Sudan, visit the In Deed and Truth blog here:

Grace and peace,
Daniel Crawford

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Update on Uganda, and Support


After much prayer over whether or not to visit my Compassion child in Uganda, I have decided not to go.  The Lord made it clear to me last night to return home after Sudan, and devote my time to my family.  Maybe there is cause for discouragement at not being able to visit Mbumburi, but I have peace knowing I am following the Lord, and so is he.  One day I hope and pray to meet him, and I trust the Lord to do it.  So, my trip will remain as 8 weeks in Sudan, from June 19 until about August 13, and when I am finished I will fly home.

More support has come in, and blesses me more and more.  As of today I have received $1735.  My target is at least $2000 to $2500.  When I reach that level of support, I'll let everyone know.  I can afford the rest and still not return home broke, but I won't stop others from continuing to bless me.

Love you all,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pray For My Visit With My Compassion Child

Hello dear friends and family,

This week I am trying to plan a visit for Uganda at the end of my stay in Sudan, so that I can meet my Compassion child, Mbumburi Moses (left).  I have been sponsoring Mbumburi for over a year and a half now, and we exchange letters with each other about once every 2-3 months (it takes a long time for them to get there and back).  He is currently 19 years old, and in every one of his letters he includes a Bible verse for me, and reminds me that he prays often for my family.  Because Sudan is just north of Uganda, I desire greatly to visit him and his family.

This week, the traveling logistics to meet Mbumburi have been made clearer, however more complicated.  I am having to look for alternate flights to make it work, along with transportation within Uganda from Kampala to his village.  Thankfully, between my trip coordinator and my friend Tyler Paulson (who is actually going with me to Sudan), God has blessed me with people who know the country and can help me with my planning.

So here is my petition: please pray for opportunity to visit Mbumburi, and that the logistics of traveling all come together.  I am likely to purchase plane tickets at the end of this week, as I cannot wait much longer to secure them.

Thank you, and God bless you,

P.S. The cost of my trip has increased some between vaccinations and transportation to visit Mbumburi--I had less clarity about this until this week. I estimate my trip will now cost up to $5000.  Half of this I am prepared to pay from savings/work, and so far $1240 has come in for the remaining $2500 necessary to go.  Thank you all who have supported me so far to Sudan!  You all build much confidence in me when I remember your prayers and support.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm Going to Sudan!

After a year and a half of praying and waiting, I am finally going to the Sudan!  The desire to go first came in September 2008 as I was leaving for college.  All of last year I prayed about going, and the Lord finally made it clear to me to go, but that I must also be patient.  Now, this summer, I will be serving in the Sudan with In Deed and Truth Ministries for eight weeks.

The missionaries I will be with, Sabet and Suzy Kuj, I know from my home church in San Diego, Horizon North County.  Since 1998 they have been in the Southern Sudan region sharing the gospel and being a light in a very dark place.  The country itself experienced an intense period of civil war from 1983 until 2005, and the war-torn people of the South had it the worst.  Today, the Kuj's run a Bible school for village pastors and operate the only medical clinic in their region, serving a population of over 30,000.  As I am there this summer, I will be helping in both: teaching in the school and helping in the clinic.  I cannot wait to go.

Of course, going to Sudan isn't free, though.  The total cost of my 8-week stay will be $4000.  Half of that cost I plan to pay from personal savings and part-time work at school.  The rest of the funds will have to come from friends and family.  If you would like to support me this summer, you can mail a check made out to "In Deed and Truth Ministries" to the following address:

In Deed and Truth Ministries
P. O. Box 51253
Colorado Springs, CO 80949-1253

Any donations are tax-deductible.  Please leave my name in the memo.

In the Kingdom of Heaven, the currency of prayer is worth much more than the currency of the dollar.  So please pray for my journey this summer.  Pray that the gospel may go forward unhindered by violence and unrest.  Pray for the Holy Spirit's blessing to work miracles in the clinic and stir revival in the hearts of the people.  Pray for my safety and obedience to the Lord as I invest my summer there.  Also, please pray that I may have opportunity to visit a child I sponsor through Compassion International, who is living in Uganda, just south of Sudan.

Thank you, and God bless!

Daniel Crawford

For more information on In Deed and Truth, go to