In 2011, the South gained their independence from the North, and Juba became the capital city of the newly birthed South Sudan.
But the decades of bombings and attacks left their infrastructure destroyed and South Sudanese believers isolated from the rest of the world. The only way in to the area for so long was on a puddle-hopper airplane, so materials that could be brought in were limited. All this combined has been a great challenge to the South Sudanese church’s spiritual growth.
With no outside accountability, it has been difficult for the church not to bow to the culture around her.
It's 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 almost powerless to declare and demonstrate truth into their culture.
Only two years after this baby nation was formed, in December 2013, tribal violence erupted in Juba.
By May 2014, a UN Envoy reported thousands slaughtered, over a million displaced and five million in need of humanitarian aid.
Three months later, the food crisis in South Sudan was the worst in the world according to the UN Security Council. (BBC News, 2015)
Finding leaders with any amount of training in this area is rare, but Jahim Buli has been discipled and trained well, so he knows what a Biblical pastoral ministry looks like.
Jahim spent some time studying under ITMI partner, Muhindo Kawede at the International School of Missions in Uganda. He was also been trained by ITMI and equipped by our own Steve Evers and Timothy Keller 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.
A South Sudanese pastor takes notes while Jahim shares Biblical truth.
A pastor from one of Jahim's trainings 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.”
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.
Jahim travels around South Sudan, training and teaching pastors and church leaders to lead their congregations by a Biblical model.
A group of pastors, thankful for Jahim's training.
As Jahim shared Jesus with his neighbors, so many were coming to faith that the only thing that made sense was to plant a church where their discipleship could be continued!
So, long before Jahim expected to be a pastor, he'd planted a church through evangelism.
This baby church gathers on Sunday in the area and Jahim equips them with the Word of God.
Jahim's church plant worshipping.
Jahim joyfully shepherds his flock.
Jahim's home in South Sudan.
Mercy Ministry to Refugees
As a former refugee himself, Jahim’s compassion for widows, orphans and those separated from their families led him to partner with ITMI to minister to the many refugees in his backyard.
A refugee camp in South Sudan.
Refugees in South Sudan are living in terrible conditions.
As funds are available, Jahim has been able to provide several feedings in refugee camps, delivering the gospel message of hope.
Through Jahim's boldness to stay in his country and compassion to meet the needs of the suffering and preach Jesus at a time when they need it the most, a cascade of God-sized events has occurred.
A hostile political leader became saved and Jahim was given the opportunity to preach to refugees on-air, broadcast not only in South Sudan but all over the world!
Around age 11, Jahim's family was ripped apart by tribal conflict. His father was dead, his mother captured and taken 800 km away, and Jahim was forced by his male relatives - who stood to gain his inheritance if he left - to leave his village.
A refugee himself, Jahim has an extra level of compassion for those suffering in refugee camps, separated from their families.
He began bringing food to them whenever he could. This angered those from the opposing tribe in high positions, and Jahim began receiving threats on his life.
But Jahim wouldn’t be intimidated. He knew His calling and he knew in Whom he trusted.
He was dragged into the office of the government official who was threatening him. Jahim boldly and humbly declared the gospel to several powerful government officials that day.
Eventually, one of the main officials who was threatening Jahim, became saved through Jahim's continual declaration of the gospel!
That lead to his superiors sending him to the front lines of battle, possibly in hopes of getting rid of him.But this new believer's faith was genuine, and he continues using his position to build God’s Kingdom.
He is discipling his troops on the front line, leading people to Jesus and bravely protecting and serving the people around him. He often calls Jahim with a satellite phone to say, “We’re being sent into a bad situation where we’ll probably all die unless God protects us. Will you pray for us?”
This same man was sent to an area of South Sudan after a tribal battle where Jahim's long-lost mother just happened to be. She was identified and reunited with Jahim!
South Sudan profile - Timeline. BBC News UK. (2015, January 22). Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14019202.
Without some insight, it really doesn’t make much sense. When you take off from LAX (Los Angeles Airport) on your way to India via Hong Kong, you go straight…north. Toward San Francisco. Hong Kong is 15 flight hours from LAX, and if you look at a map, it is almost due …west! Ah, here is the issue.
It was an early morning in South Sudan.Martha (name changed) fearfully peeked between the bamboo that formed a bathroom structure. She didn’t dare breathe. Even the sound of a breath could make it the last one she drew into her throbbing chest. Her eyes were dry. She didn’t even dare to blink. She watched from behind the bamboo as her neighbors murdered her brothers and sisters.
Before December 2016 there was a plan by the rebels to attack the capital of South Sudan, Juba, before Christmas. The government was preparing for a wide-scale war with rebels. We saw movement of army and their weapons. It was not rumours anymore. It was real. We could see it and feel it.
It was a Sunday in July of this year. We were in our normal Sunday service and there was an intensive war with big artilleries and helicopter was hovering over us.
“Why do the men sit on one side and the women on the other?”
Years ago, ITMI’s founder, Bill Bathman and his travel companion, Don Christiansen were in a Romanian church. This particular group of believers held long-standing traditions that had gotten them through the persecution of the Communism and the scarcity of the aftermath that followed.
But after the Iron Curtain came down, Don wondered why they sat the way they did. Was it to keep everyone from being distracted? Was it their sense of modesty and propriety?
When Jahim Buli’s family woke up in their home in Juba, South Sudan, on Monday, all was quiet. The morning’s quiet was just the calm before the storm. “We did not know that the situation will get worst than yesterday,” Jahim says.
When he first arrived at their home in the center of Juba, South Sudan, the family thought ITMI’s Jahim Buli was a witch doctor.
We couldn’t do what we do without you, our supporters. This is just one small way we can say, “Thank you!” Each month, download one beautiful photo from Steve with a convenient calendar of that month for you to set as your desktop photo.
Inside a plastic tent, in such heat that Arizona-native Steve felt it might be approaching temperatures unhealthy for the human body to endure, Steve asked God for a message to give them. This is what God gave him.
Many ITMI partners use Christmas time as a way to bless their communities as well as reach them with the gospel. Here’s a list of all of them in one place!
ITMI partners express their gratitude for some different blessings throughout the year.
Towards the end of the 2014 summer, Jahim contacted Steve and said “…the Hammer is missing!” His family knew not of his whereabouts. Jahim could not get in contact with him. None of his associates knew where he was. He had disappeared.
“I’m hiding on the floor with my family.”
“We didn’t sleep much last night with all the bullets and artillery….”
“Two hours ago [Monday, December 16th] a military truck with soldiers came to my neighbor’s house, pulled him out and shot him dead. He is still laying out there and no one can go out to get the body [because all were afraid to show their faces in public].”