Week 1 – Walking in Grace
The thunder rumbled in the distance. Eagerly, all of us looked up from where we were gathered for prayer, as the wind suddenly picked up and whistled around the house. The strong, envigorating winds blew dust in swirling hordes as the dark clouds promised something more. Rain!
The kids squealed in excitement as the first droplets came. As we danced around in the rain, feeling the wet spray on our faces, I could almost feel the invigorating refreshment that it was bringing to this thirsty land. Laurie and I have ended our first entire week here in the Sudan, and I just have to smile at how God sent this little rainstorm as a celebration of His continuing grace. A few minutes ago, as I made my way through the little winding dirt paths to our little bai (and shooing away the cows and goats off the front doorstep), I began to think about all the ways that God has shown us His grace this past week, and they are really too numerous to count. One common theme that I’ve been noticing is that God tends to show me particular things about Himself as I move forward – walking one step at a time. So, here are a few places that I’ve walked this week and some glimpses of Himself that He has shown along the way.
I saw His gift of life this week as we walked around the village in prayer on Friday, and stopped in to visit a newborn baby who had been born a few hours before. The precious dark tiny face looking up at his mother reminded me in a particular way of how God sustains life here and holds all of His children securely within His hand. This is grace.
I saw His gift of community this week as we walked into neighbor huts with some of the team members and greeted people with our broken Dinka. After only a week of being here, we confess that our conversational language still relies heavily on patient translators and hand motions, but we have greatly enjoyed being a source of amusement as we learn from one another. As faces become more familiar, names stick a little easier, and the “light bulbs” of understanding turn on a little quicker, we see God drawing people and forming relationships. This is grace.
I saw His gift of the gospel as we walked out of the Weer Bi radio station, after seeing the first Saturday night radio program hit the air. This Christian radio station, which is connected with the Cush4Christ ministry here, reaches a 60-mile radius in all directions and has approximately 20,000 listeners. I am so encouraged by the dedication of the men here who organize the programs, and even more thrilled to see God working in such a powerful way to bring His message to this oral culture. This too, is grace.
I saw His gift of worship as we walked to God’s house here in Sudan – a grass mat enclosure with branches for pews and a tarp for the roof – and listened to the voices of these saints raised in psalms of prayer. Although I only understood a word or two, it was a beautiful sight to see these people here worshipping the true God from their heart. It reminded me of the people back home who were doing the same thing around the globe on the Lord’s Day. This is grace.
And yes, I saw His gift of security as we walked throughout our days (and nights even). I just have to say that the necessary walks in the dark are still a little unnerving – even with the trusty flashlight. However, as I was walking back from my shower last night, I just had to smile at the confidence that had come to my step (for me, that is saying kinda a lot – especially with all the sticks on the ground that look like snakes in the dark!) *smile* Praise God for His protection, and yes, even if I do encounter one of those reptiles one of these days, I’m sure there is grace enough for that too. Finally, tonight, I saw His gift of joy as I walked back in the rain. The adjustments to this culture have been rather easy thus far (mostly thanks to the wonderful team members here who have patiently taught us so much!) but there is still that daily need to choose joy wherever I am. I just love those moments when it just can’t help but bubble up inside and spill over. That is a gracious gift from God as well. Anyway, I thought a few of these things would make you smile too – and hopefully bring to mind ways that God has shown you grace in your lives today as you walk forward into what He has called you. Thank you all SO much for your many emails! They are extremely appreciated and we are very grateful for the links of love that connect us to home. I continually thank God for all of you and look forward to responding as the time permits. Know that you all are being thought of and prayed for under this African sky. *smile*
“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; His going out is as sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains water the earth…” – Hosea 6:3
Beth (and Laurie)