This article originally appeared in the June 2013 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Making Ends Meet in South Sudan
Jahim’s passenger slid off the back of his small motor scooter, or bota bota as it came to a stop, eager to distance himself from the morning heat the motor was adding to the already sweltering temperature.
Jahim Buli wiped his hands, sweaty from navigating the insanity of African roads on his pants and took the meager payment for the transportation he'd just provided.
"Thank you," he said, mentally adding the most recent payment to the day's previous income. It would be enough to buy milk and food to last his family until this time tomorrow. Pocketing the money, he rode off toward the home he shared with his wife, daughter and recently adopted child in Juba, South Sudan.
Jahim's wife, Gisma, worshipping.
Jahim's daughters, Favor and Maria.
As he rode, he noticed a group of street children, digging through the trash and prayed silently for them. One of his own relatives had passed away, leaving the child orphaned. He and his wife had gladly taken the child as their own.
He added a prayer of thanksgiving for the ability to provide for his family that day.
Noticing the position of the sun, he began to ride a bit faster. It was mid morning, so he'd still have quite a bit of time today to devote to the ministry he is passionate about.
A History of Survival Mode
For bearing the label of "Christian," South Sudan endured decades of civil war, bombs, raids and attacks from the Islaamic north before relative peace was achieved in 2010, granting the area independence as its own country.
The relatively young South Sudan has its capital in Juba. The Christians in South Sudan have been isolated and in survival mode for as long as many can remember.
Accessibility has been incredibly challenging. With their infrastructure destroyed and constant threats of danger, the isolation and lack of materials and training has been a great challenge to the church’s spiritual growth. In lieu of accountability, much of the church has “lost its flavor” to the short-comings of it’s culture.
Its not uncommon to find large segments of the church in Sudan existing for the benefit of the leader or pastor, who in turn promises his followers prosperity and refuge.
However, in the course of using his title as pastor for personal benefit, he often delivers only guilt and pressure. This has severely maimed the Body of Christ in this area, rendering her powerless to declare and demonstrate truth into their culture.
Passionately Training Pastors
Jahim is passionate about training pastors to end this vicious cycle of beating down the church by showing them the truth about their role as leaders according to the Bible.
Jahim has also been trained by ITMI and equipped to train groups of pastors using discipleship material that ITMI has been using effectively in Africa for quite some time now. The S.A.L.T. (Seven Areas of Life Training) material was developed in the U.S. by a group of counselors with the goal of helping believers find the root of their issues in order to weed out sin.
Jahim training pastors in South Sudan.
Taking notes at pastor's training in South Sudan.
One paster from a recent training in Yei said,
“Through this lesson I now know that I have been controlling and seeking praise from my church members. I have been [trying to put myself] in the place of God. Now I am asking God to forgive me from all that I have done and let Him lead me and the people He has entrusted to me.”
Thankful South Sudanese pastors and leaders after their training.
This material is so effective in Jahim's hands because he already has a network of contacts and language isn't a barrier. Jahim is poised and ready to shake the salt of God’s Word all over war-ravaged South Sudan for the Kingdom of God.
He is trained, already in place, and lacks only one thing: funding.
The pastor trainings are minimal in cost, but pack a big punch in their reach and depth of effectiveness.
All it would take is one motorcycle breakdown, his children to get sick or a natural disaster to strike and the trainings would have to be suspended while he focused on survival.
We’d like to see Jahim be provided with a cushion of monthly support that would protect the training against the realities of life.
Summer Kelley is a writer who lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and three kids. She has had the privilege of telling ITMI's stories since 2006. She loves to write uplifting stories of God's work overseas, read and learn about the world around her and enjoy her family.
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 12 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.