What leads up to such desperation that compels someone to walk away from two young sons?
Maybe he stood in the middle of the road staring at the gate to Word of Life Church in Juba, South Sudan for a few quiet moments.
Perhaps no one was around to notice him near the church early that Sunday morning. The sun was probably only beginning to create a small stripe of light blue at the horizon.
The neighborhood was probably calm and quiet before the neighbors would be woken by the rising of the sun and begin stirring to light their fires to prepare their morning meal.
Maybe his one-year-old son clung tightly to his neck, still asleep in his illness. The hand of his older son, just two years old, was probably soft and trusting in his. Maybe he looked up with big, questioning eyes.
Imagine having to peel those arms off. Imagine the gut-wrenching, breath-stealing pain that must have gripped his chest.
Orphaned and barely more than a boy himself, this young father had been caring for the boys since his wife left three months ago. Then the youngest boy became ill. He must have been utterly and indescribably desperate.
Consumed by a hopelessness that swallows and buries the soul.
He believed their situation was so perilous, so critically dire that abandoning them at the church gate seemed like the only choice he had. Like the he was making the right decision.
ITMI’s Jahim Buli planted Word of Life Church in his neighborhood in Juba, after he shared Christ with so many of his neighbors, the only logical way to disciple them was to plant a church.
Word of Life Church and the neighborhood where many members live in Juba, South Sudan.
The Buli family at their home in Juba, South Sudan.
When Jahim learned of the boys that had been left at the gate on a Sunday morning, he enlisted the help of the police to find their father.
The father explained himself to Jahim. "I did this because I don't know what to do, I couldn't feed my children and the small one is sick and I am not able to take him to hospital. Instead of seeing him die, better I have to kill myself."
“He was so frustrated,” Jahim says.
But Jahim had someone to introduce John to. Someone who could help. Someone who cared deeply about this young man and his sons.
When this young, desperate father met Jesus, he found out his life and his boys’ lives were precious to someone important. That they were loved. That they weren’t alone.
He welcomed Jesus into his life as Lord and Savior.
Jahim made it clear that this wasn’t a formula. He couldn’t expect Jahim, Word of Life or anyone else to take care of his children. That would have to be up to the Lord.
Jahim is careful not to confuse the real Good News that the Lord cares about us with the health and wealth heresy that is frequently confused with it by those in need.
Jahim’s church did help John have his son treated, and provided some milk and food for the family.
Under Jahim’s leadership, Word of Life is learning to change their view of the church and finances. Jahim says that in his culture, many people think the church exists to help them.
Jahim equipping his church with the SALT material's financial section.
But now, instead of viewing the church as a way they can be provided for, people are learning to understand the church as something they can - and are called to - give to and support.
This young church responded with maturity to the needs around them, without falling into the cultural trap of communicating that a relationship with Jesus is primarily about your own health and wealth.
As a result, Word of Life was able to glorify God’s name by helping this family in their time of desperate need.
It's through your support of Jahim and his ministry that this church stands as a people of wisdom and compassion in the middle of a time and place where both are desperately needed.