This article was originally published in the August 2016 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Dule’s sister looked worried. She waited anxiously with her eyes on ITMI’s Jahim Buli. As soon as he was finished with the mid-week service, she jumped to approach him.
ITMI's Jahim Buli
Thirteen-year-old Dule is one of Jahim’s most faithful disciples. Since he joined God’s family in 2015, he has exemplified a passionate love for Jesus. He never misses the church’s Bible study or prayer meetings. His courage and boldness in sharing Christ led Jahim to identify Dule as a future leader.
“God brought him to me and I should teach him. He is one of those God is raising to be a leader in the future,” Jahim said.
Dule’s parents were always drunk. Their children often went 3-4 days without food. Dule had been praying feverishly for his parents’ salvation, and for God to help his family.
Little did anyone know, the answer to his prayers would come in the most unexpected of ways.
His sister reported to Jahim that Dule had been in intense pain for four days. Jahim and some members of the church went to see him immediately.
The teenager’s tongue was green and he was in such overwhelming pain that he couldn’t sit up. Jahim and the other believers prayed for Dule.
The prayers of God’s people enabled Dule to get up and walk. Jahim gave Dule’s sister $400 SSP for a life-saving visit to the local hospital.
As it turned out, Dule had appendicitis and needed an operation immediately. At 11 pm that evening, after 2.5 hours of surgery, the doctor emerged. “This boys’ survival is a miracle!” the Doctor reported, “The appendix burst and had started to infect the stomach. We were able to do the cleaning and he is fine.”
Later that week, Dule was discharged from the hospital, and Jahim’s church was able to pay for his treatment.
It was through the church’s demonstration of the gospel to Dule’s family during his illness that Dule’s mother received Christ!
Dule with his mother and sister.
Jahim’s church is committed to spreading God’s Word in their communities. God has blessed these efforts, and their services are jam-packed with both English and Arabic speaking worshippers of all ages.
They are asking God in faith to provide them the means to extend their reach into the lives of more youth like Dule through the construction of another structure where children’s services and outreaches could take place.
ITMI's Steve Evers speaking at the youth gathering of Jahim's church.
Church services are jam-packed with both English and Arabic speaking worshippers of all ages.
Indeed, the world will be a better place if the next generation of South Sudan rises from the ashes of its bloody, painful past and chooses unity, peace, and the perfect love that casts out the fear and hate of those who have gone before them.
This choice can only be made through the empowerment of God’s Spirit.
Last month, as the world’s youngest country celebrated its 5th birthday, violence broke out between the opposing political parties in the nation’s capital. Three hundred souls were added to the countless others who have met violent ends in this war-torn nation.
Al Jazeera reported that the conflict has been “characterized by horrific rights abuses including gang rapes, the wholesale burning of villages and cannibalism.”
They also reported that the UN said the number of South Sudanese refugees could reach one million this year.
Days after the most recent outburst ignited, Jahim’s church gathered, though attacks rang out nearby. “Despite the war going on for an hour in Juba and much displacement [of people], we are having our normal [Sunday] service,” Jahim reported.
This tribal conflict is yet another incident in a long string of uprisings that began at the end of 2013. But the history of violence and destruction has raged for decades as the country that was once Sudan tore itself to pieces in civil war, the Islamic North attacking the non-Islamic South.
ITMI partners have been offering hope and aid for over 2 decades, entering the warring country when others left, to encourage and equip the local church to reach her people.
ITMI's Timothy Keller equipping the church in Sudan (now South Sudan), 2002.
Jahim’s own history again and again mirrors the story of the mythical Phoenix, continually rising from the ashes when all seems lost. But there’s nothing mythical about the power behind Jahim’s resilience.
It is clearly God’s hand, lifting Jahim as on eagle’s wings.
Jahim was just a boy when his village was attacked and he became a refugee.
He was stuck in a refugee camp without the required paperwork entitling him to food and life’s necessities. Yet God provided for Jahim’s need for 5 years using the sacrificial hand-outs of countless other refugees.
After being equipped by ITMI to train local pastors using the Seven Areas of Life Training (S.A.L.T.) Material in 2011, Jahim stepped out in faith and stayed in South Sudan to offer hope to those around him instead of fleeing the violence in 2013.
God blew him out of the water and answered his step of faith by bringing so many to faith so quickly, that almost accidentally, he planted a church!
Then God did it again. He allowed this fledgling church to raise funds to build a place to meet in a war-torn economy!
At each step of faith, it seems God takes great joy in His ability to resurrect hope from ashes. One of the many that came to faith through Jahim’s ministry was a high-ranking government official who originally had it in for Jahim.
He was nick-named “the Hammer” and he didn’t like Jahim bringing food and aid to a refugee camp of the other tribe. Jahim stepped out in faith again and spoke truth.
The domino effect of that leap of faith was that the Hammer became saved and was shipped far off to the front lines of conflict by his superiors for his newly-found faith.
In that incredible-but-true tale, he ran into Jahim’s mother, a slave for almost 20 years, who Jahim had been separated from as a boy. He brought her to Jahim in Juba!
The miraculous reunion turned into an adoption months later when Jahim’s mother received Christ.
It was God’s faithfulness to continually bring Jahim through the ashes of the destruction around him that gave him the faith he needed most recently when soldiers knocked on his door, urging him to evacuate his home.
The enemy was advancing. A bomb blew up just 600 yards from Jahim’s house.
The concussion and blast scared all of Jahim’s neighbors from their homes and mud huts.
Jahim's neighborhood in Juba, South Sudan.
With nowhere to go, he told the commander, “I and these people you see are children of the King, He will send His soldiers to command, no bullets or bomb will land here into my house and the enemy will not come near us."
Remarkably, the enemy “turned back” for no discernible reason. The result of that bold demonstration of faith and peace? The commander recognized the peace Jahim had and wanted it for himself. That commander was saved!
We can’t help but notice that our South Sudanese brothers seem to see things so differently than we do. These giants of faith rely on God alone. The struggles have stripped away everything they might otherwise rely on.
They simply rely on Him with a faith that looms larger-than-life, and God has provided in a myriad of creative and unexpected ways!
But here’s the really great part. We get to be part of God demonstrating how big and worthy of their faith He is to His people in South Sudan. God often uses us to provide.
We are part of this almost unexplainable hope that our South Sudanese partners demonstrate to everyone around them!
Who will rise from the ashes of this turmoil because of how God uses you and me? Who will love and serve Him more devotedly as a result of your faithfulness? Who will believe God is bigger and greater and stronger because of your partnership?
Many. Thank you.
"UN: South Sudan Refugees Could Soon Hit One Million." - News from Al Jazeera. July 15, 2016. Accessed July 25, 2016. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/south-sudan-refugees-hit-million-160715143807203.html
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 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.