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 a 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.
Lazarus is a humble, mature leader in South Sudan.
It is important to Lazarus to depend on God. For years, he fed his wife and children on a regular income of $23 a month. But God provided for them to live and even share that with the needy around them. Lazarus and his wife have taken in 6 of their nieces and nephews.
Lazarus originally refused partnership with ITMI because he didn't want to change anything about his relationship with God. He changed his mind, however, when he understood that a partnership with ITMI would allow others to be used by God to provide for the needy in South Sudan.
Revival and Fire Church
Left to Right: Timothy Keller, Lazarus, Vicky, Steve Evers, Justin, Jahim Buli.
Logistics led to her and a couple travel partners being stranded in Mundri, where the ITMI team was sharing the SALT material. With nothing else to do, they stayed for the teaching.
SALT training in Mundri, South Sudan.
When Steve returned to South Sudan in 2012, he discovered that the SALT material he'd presented two years before had taken such root that Vicky, Lazarus and two others had planted a church, Revival and Fire Ministry, Juba, based on the principles!
Shared leadership - not one leader with a title.
No head pastor.
Humbly responsive to the Spirit.
This model was so starkly different from the standard African church, that people are drawn to this church by droves.
They had already funded a church building, which is unheard of for such a young church in a war-torn, impoverished, African country, but quickly grew out of it in 2 months time!
Lazarus, Vicky and Steve Evers with other leaders from the Revival and Fire Ministry.(2016)
Revival and Fire church gathering on Easter Sunday in South Sudan.
The church is located in this Muslim neighborhood.
This dynamic church can’t even keep up with the awning space needed!
During Steve's visit he preached to the congregation under multi-colored awnings, which the church members pain-stalkingly erect each Sunday.
This church is a refreshing preview of God's Kingdom for the war-torn and weary people of South Sudan!
Equipping South Sudan with SALT (Seven Areas of Life Training)
Since co-teaching SALT with Steve in 2009 and helping Steve demonstrate that any one of the seminar attendees could turn around and teach someone else what they were learning, Lazarus has continued to teach the SALT material in South Sudan.
He proposed the translation of the SALT material in to Arabic, so that he could use it to open a language school. He wants to see God's Word root down deep into people's lives.
ITMI partner, Vicky Waraka introduced ITMI to Lazarus in 2009. As the relationship continued, we observed Lazarus' faithfulness to lead the church in a humble manner, care for widows and orphans and depend on God.
During WW2 Singapore City was about to face a siege by the Japanese. General Yamamoto delivered a note saying, “In the interests of chivalry we invite you to surrender.” Lance Percival fell for it and surrendered despite outnumbering the Japanese 4 to 1.
His response was so unexpected that ITMI’s Director, Steve Evers, re-stated the question. “Would you like to be an ITMI partner?”Most people jump at such an offer. But not Lazarus.