"But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish."
In June of 2020, when the entire world was locking down and staying home to avoid spreading COVID-19, thousands of residents of South Sudan and Sudan living near the White Nile river were forced to leave their homes.
The rainy season in South Sudan is June through October. People are used to the rising and ebbing of the river caused by the seasonal rain. They count on the rain.
But in 2020, the seasonal flooding was atypical. In Sudan, the Nile and some of its tributaries were reported to have reached their highest level in 100 years.
The Nile River near Khartoum, Sudan during a typical rainy season. (2016)
The Nile River near Khartoum, Sudan in September 2020.
In South Sudan, this year’s rain came before the river had receded fully from the previous year’s unprecedented rain.
Entire villages, homes and farmsteads were still underwater in September 2020. Clinics were submerged, communities stranded and animals lay dead in fields.
In one of the worst affected states, 45% of all the land that was planted was lost, intensifying the already grim hunger situation where before the flooding occured, 1.4 million people were suffering from hunger.
According to The World Food Programme 700,000 people in South Sudan were affected by the flooding. One of the locations that experienced a mass influx of displaced people is a location called Mongalla, a two hour drive from the country’s capital city, Juba.
A state school building was opened to shelter those displaced by the flood. But many were forced to set up camps in tents and makeshift shelters in the yard or on the porch that extends the length of the tall yellow building.
In preparation for a Project Joseph outreach in Mongalla, ITMI's Vicky Waraka did an initial needs assessment in the area.
Vicky reported, “They were evicted by the flood and many came empty-handed. They have nothing at all.”
The suffering for these displaced people is intense.
Children and infants lack clothing and bedding. There’s nowhere to get food. Some have tents, but often the entire family can’t fit inside. Tents don’t keep people safe from those who intend to harm, making displaced women and children acutely vulnerable.
One location where the displaced are camping isn’t far from the river. Mosquitos come in thick swarms, bringing misery to the displaced who are without the protection nets provide. Four people have been harmed by crocodiles that inhabit the river near where they’ve taken refuge.
Hope is in short supply. The physical needs are great, but the spiritual needs even more so.
People are traumatized and hurt, so they traumatize and hurt others. The cycle continues, until they turn to the Lord for healing from past hurts.
In October 2020, Vicky and a team of 10 people from Juba made the two hour drive to Mongalla for a Project Joseph outreach. They were accompanied by a truck loaded with soap, flour, cooking oil, and beans.
Vicky described her team's outreach this way, "The people who are displaced have lost a lot of items, food stuff, animals, clothes and some relatives, too. For this reason, we reached and encouraged the people. Our mission goal was mainly first to preach the Word of God."
A Different Kind of Aid
Project Joseph is different from other food programs because it is accompanied by the Gospel and truth from God’s Word, delivered by an ITMI national partner.
The truth about who God is and what He’s done for His people provides true healing for these suffering hearts, yearning for hope.
No other source can provide hope that lasts through this kind of hardship. Hope in government and NGO food programs dies when the aid isn't available. Hope in human relationships is replaced with discouragement when people let them down.
But hope in the goodness and sovereignty of the Lord of creation is sustainable.
"But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish." Psalm 9:18
Our partners can answer the questions these hurting hearts are asking - questions to which the answer is Jesus. They can do it in an effective and insightful way because they have knowledge of the context and the culture that outsiders would lack.
Project Joseph outreaches extend their reach and give our partners open doors to share their hope in Jesus.
ITMI's Vicky Waraka distributing food.
Project Joseph provision ready to be given to the needy.
Preparations for food distribution.
Vicky praying with those in need at Mongalla.
The gift of food means so much more than meals.
One of Vicky's teammates leads in prayer.
People turning to Christ in prayer at Mongalla Project Joseph outreach.
One of Vicky's team shares from the Word with the people at Mongalla.
Women displaced to Mongalla pray with Vicky's team.
Vicky after praying for a pregnant woman who didn't feel well. She delivered a healthy baby later that day!
Grateful recipients of ITMI's Project Joseph outreach in Mongalla.
Displaced women thankful for the provision they were given.
Would you consider helping us continue to reach the hurting through Project Joseph outreaches?
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