Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Power of Prayer at a Crucial Time for South Sudan

If you have been following the news over the last week, you know that tensions have escalated between Sudan and South Sudan.   The title of the latest BBC article is "South Sudan's Salva Kiir says Sudan has declared war."  Another article from Voice of America online quotes South Sudan's Deputy Defense Minister Majak D'Agoot from the state capital Bentiu as saying that "'What happens in the next few days is very crucial on whether the two countries can avert the possibility of an outbreak of a full-blown conflict, or if they actually lead themselves headlong into a situation of all-out war.'"

Mundri and the WHM team are VERY far from the fighting in the border regions.  Bethany posted yesterday from Mundri, so check out her latest thoughts.  I also need to be reminded that what I read in the news is often sensationalized and does not always represent the true situation.  In fact I just I read an article in which the Catholic Archbishop of Juba said the UN, the African Union, and Western nations have made "premature statements without knowing the reality."  I am writing this post not be I know the truth of what is going on between Sudan and South Sudan, but because no matter what the reality is, it is a time for prayer.

Yesterday I finally got around to listening to a podcast I had downloaded several months ago.  It was entitled "The South African Miracle: The Story Behind the Story of South Africa's Transition from Apartheid to Democracy".  It was not that long ago the news outlets were talking about fears of all-out war in South Africa.  If you aren't familiar with the story, I recommend you look for the podcast by Dr. Michael Cassidy.  Powerful nations and leaders failed to bring a resolution.   A group of weak Christians organized prayer from around the world.   God was glorified when South Africa peacefully transitioned from apartheid to democracy amid fears of all out war. 

I know that many of you are already prayer warriors for South Sudan, and I will admit that I don't pray as much as I should for a country I love that is going through difficult times.  I was convicted as I listened to the story of what God did in South Africa through the power of prayer. I agree with the official from South Sudan who said that the next few days are a crucial time for both countries.  I am one weak sinner, but I can pray.  I ask all the dependent children of God out there to join me in prayer. Here are just a few specific ways you can pray.

Pray for the following individuals as well as the government and church in both nations: 

President Salva Kiir of South Sudan
President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan
Archbishop Daniel Deng of the Episcopal Church in South Sudan

Pray for real decisions to be made to resolve these key issues: 

An article in the Economist gave a great one sentence description of some of the issues.  "The crisis is a direct result of both sides’ failure to make progress in negotiations over post-secession security arrangements, citizenship rules and oil revenues, among other issues that should have been resolved long ago."  I would include defining a precise border as another major issue. 


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Nodding Disease and Hope

I've read several articles about nodding disease from various news outlets in the past month. Of course I have a particular interest since Mundri is one of the three places in East Africa where children are being diagnosed with nodding disease. I have seen it first hand. Scott even wrote a post about nodding disease in Mundri last year.

The words in the most recent article on BBC News really impacted me. Uganda's Nodding Disease: I've Lost Hope

One mother of two children with nodding disease is quoted in the article, and she says "I've lost hope. I'm just taking care of Sarah and Moses like flowers in the home knowing they are of no use in the future."

Tears came to my eyes. These communities have been devastated by war for decades. Now, just as they are developing and recovering, their children, their hope for a better future, are suffering from a slow burdensome disease that caries a significant societal stigma for the family.

It breaks my heart to think of these children, whose mother had to make the decision to tie them to a tree for their own safety so that she could go work in her garden to provide food for those very children and the rest of her family.

What I feel in my heart as I pray for those who are suffering from nodding disease is hard to express in words. It is a thousand things coming together. A thought, an image, a word, a verse.... each overlapping with the other like a collage that comes together to form a larger picture. It is hope, suffering, God's sovereignty, injustice, beauty, sin, love, the already and not yet Kingdom of Jesus Christ, doubt, faith.... It is all of those things and more. Together as I step back, it is the Gospel, which changes everything.

My life has been easy, especially when compared to Betty's life. Even still my sinful selfish heart tries to take control and protect my security and comfort. It isn't easy to hope in a world where evil exists. Hoping, loving, having faith makes you vulnerable to pain and suffering.

I don't know Betty. I wasn't there when she said she had lost hope to hear her whole story. I don't know what she believes about Jesus Christ. I pray for her children to be healed, but if in God's sovereignty they are not healed, I pray that there will be a day when she will be with her children, whole and perfect, in heaven.

I know also that part of the reason tears came to my eyes is that I long to be there. I miss Mundri. I long to be a part of that community as they pray for a cure and look forward to a day when there will be no more disease.

Part of my calling as a missionary to share the things I have seen with my friends and church family in America. There is suffering, injustice, death, and sin in every part of the world, but East Africa has a special place in my heart, so I'm sharing this with you in the hope that today you will pray for the communities affected by nodding disease. Also pray for wisdom and continued funding for the doctors and scientists who are studying the disease.

Speaking of hope, if you haven't already, you should read these two beautiful blog posts on the subject.

The Weight of Hope - ParadoxUganda
Unanchored - ParadoxUganda