Hello from Sudan once again! As I sit down to write to you all, I still wonder if I will ever be able to adequately express all the work that God is doing here in Africa. Yesterday, as I was sitting under the shade of a nice tree, God was reminding me of so many of His commands in Scripture to declare the wonderful works of the Lord. “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples, I will sing praises to you among the nations…” (Psalm 108:3) So, even though my words are rather inadequate and time is lacking to tell you of everything, it is my hope that you are reading these emails and finding your heart drawn to praising His Name with us.
This afternoon, I’ve been thinking about light and how important it is in our daily life here. The sunshine that is so well-known here in Africa becomes a welcome sight, as it is often our “alarm clock” to wake us up in the mornings. At night, that same sunshine becomes appreciated in a new way when we use our solar-powered lanterns. The stars that you can see from here are absolutely breathtaking – sometimes it is almost light enough to see the path without extra help. Flashlights do come in handy to keep our eye out for snakes when we walk back from the shower, however. *smile* And yes, Laurie and I have been known to read our emails by candlelight as well.
You probably know where I’m going with this. All of these various forms of light that shine brilliantly into the darkness are visible pictures of what God commands His children to be: “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world," Philippians 2:15
I just thought I would share one example (out of many) of this spiritual light and darkness that may give you a better idea of ways to pray as we continue on this mission here in Sudan.
On Friday, as Daniel Faris, Laurie, and I were getting ready to leave for Aweil Town (to pick up Jan, a new team member for the month), there was a great commotion outside the gate. A woman had been attacked by a stray dog and was having violent reactions. Daniel was able to drive her to Aweil town for medical attention, and Laurie and I rode along and prayed (Later we were informed that the cause of her disturbing reactions were most likely the result of demon-possession.) This was the first time that I have witnessed something like that so closely, and it has caused us to think much upon Jesus, His victory over the powers of darkness, and the impact that the gospel could have in this land. Please pray for Adoot and her family, as well as the many, many people in this area who are still bound by the chains of fear and have not yet experienced the freedom that is found in Jesus Christ.
In contrast, this past Lord’s Day, we had the privilege of worshipping with the saints in Mangar-Aquach, which is the village of the first organized church in this area. Every time I visit that area, I am amazed at the joy and sincerity that radiate from their faces. This week, we had the privilege of witnessing two important milestones in the church: the ordination of five deacons, and partaking of the Lord’s Supper with them. Both of these events, along with the preaching of the Word, singing, and praying, was a beautiful picture of how God is continuing to grow and build His church.
"And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." Daniel 12:3
So yes, there is darkness, but there is also a glorious light – and how great is that Light! I marvel at the ways God is continuing to shine His gospel even more brilliantly into our own hearts as we witness it going out into this community. He truly is worthy of our praise.
As some of you have requested, here are a few more specific prayer requests as we start off this new week:
This Friday, we say goodbye to Daniel, Natalie, and little Samuel as they fly to Nairobi for the birth of their little one. We will greatly miss their presence here in Sudan, but look forward to hopefully seeing them in Nairobi in a few more weeks when we pass through. Please pray for their safety in travel and the birth of baby in God’s appointed time!
We are also grateful for Jan, who has come for a month. We have enjoyed getting to know her! Please continue to pray for her as she adjusts to life here and discerns God’s calling on her life.
On Tuesday (tomorrow), Jan, Laurie, and I are going to do an impromptu workshop/discussion with the women of Manach-Aquach, talking about womanhood and discipleship. Please pray that God would give us the words to say and that we would communicate effectively to a culture and a mindset that is so different from our own. Pray that relationships would be established and that long-lasting fruit would be seen.
Please pray that we would continue to treasure the moments here and use our time wisely as we anticipate the next few weeks ahead.
Thank you for your faithful prayers and support. We praise God for each and every one of you!
Beth & Laurie