Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hope in South Sudan

South Sudan has dropped out of the news a bit over the last week after the news of a ceasefire agreement. While I was happy to hear this news, I wanted to share some additional points to consider for those who are praying for the newest nation in the world.
  • As many as half a million people have been displaced within South Sudan and in neighboring nations
  • As many as 10,000 may have been killed in this recent conflict
  • The displaced are at tremendous risk for disease and severe malnutrition 
  • Infrastructure that was built up in the last decade in the areas where the active conflict has been taking place has been destroyed in the space of less than two months
  • Some of the aid including food and medicines being sent to refugee and IDP camps has been stolen, never reaching the most vulnerable
  • Many of those displaced in this recent conflict were previously displaced by the civil war in Sudan and had returned to South Sudan with hope for peace and development sometime after the peace agreement of 2005 or independence in 2011
  • It is unlikely that the displaced, who have endured long and expensive journeys to safety, will return to their homes anytime soon due to continued uncertainty and insecurity as well as the fact that many are unsure what still stands in their towns and villages
A ceasefire is a great step for the region, but it isn't that simple.  South Sudan has been a nation filled with hope following the end of decades of civil war, but in the face of these recent losses, hope isn't easy.  But the church in South Sudan is strong and filled with faithful men and women like Bishop and Rina! 

So continue to pray that this ceasefire would lead to lasting peace, and also pray boldly for a deeper reconciliation and unity that comes from the gospel.  Pray for hope in Christ who is victorious over death and brokenness.  

Also for those who have asked, Mundri is not one of the regions where there has been active fighting, but there has been an impact on the region with the disruption of services and supply chains, soldiers passing through, etc.

Disclaimer: This information is compiled from what I have read from various news outlets (including those based in East Africa) over the last weeks and filtered through my own experiences in South Sudan.  I love South Sudan, but I am not South Sudanese, so if you have a chance, talk and pray with someone from South Sudan.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Transition Attacks

This week for the first time since returning to the U.S. I have experienced the tell-tale signs of a missionary navigating yet another transition.

I titled this post transition attacks, but that it is what it feels like, an attack.  I'm just walking along, going through my day, and all of a sudden I can't make a basic decision or I'm overwhelmed by emotion that significantly exceeds the magnitude of the trigger.  

Why this week? The whirlwind of leaving South Sudan, finishing grad school, and moving to Richmond is over.  More importantly, the recent violence in South Sudan has lasted over a month.  It isn't new, and so the shock is over and the grief has started in earnest. 

This transition in particular has come with a lot of grief and there has been little time until now to mourn the losses.  

I'm thankful that there are people in my life who are right there with me in this season.  I'm not happy that they are also grieving, but there is great comfort in being known, and these women know my heart because it looks a lot like their own.  There is even greater comfort that Jesus, "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief," knows my heart.  (Isaiah 53:3)

Those who asked about South Sudan or any number of other topics related to my transition back to life in the U.S. probably found me at a loss for words this week.  It has been a Beams of Heaven kind of week, clinging to hope even when Satan's cause seems to gain.  So thank you to all who have shown me (and my teammates) grace in this season of uncertainty and transition.

Additional Note: There are hard and sad moments when I feel the way I described above, particularly after reading news about South Sudan, but it is a normal part of transition in these circumstances.  I really am doing well.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Door Half Open

If you have been reading my blog over the last few years, you may have seen that stability, or rather instability, has been a big theme.  So when I had to leave South Sudan earlier than expected, I choose to return to Richmond to be able to attend my home church and be near friends in search of a little stability.  

It has been a whirlwind few months saying goodbye to South Sudan, finishing my graduate degree, reading about the recent conflict in South Sudan from afar, driving up and down the east coast a few times, and starting my job search. Through all of this, God has faithfully been my guide, providing exactly what I needed in each moment.  This week though, I started to feel a bit lost.  

Why? Because the door to being able to move to Richmond and have some stability has remained half open. It isn't closed.  But it also isn't open.  Some things are falling into place in a way that I couldn't have imagined possible, and I'm really excited about some of the opportunities God seems to be opening up for ministry in Richmond.  As much as I'm excited about all these things, the reality is that to be able to move to Richmond, I need a full-time paid job, ideally in the non-profit sector. I've pursued several different options, but the door remains only half open.  

I've started looking for jobs in other cities, but the half open in door in Richmond complicates things for me. What does it look like to patiently wait on the Lord and not stubbornly wait for my own desires? Is there anything else I can do in pursuit of a job in Richmond? 

Clearly I long for more stability, particularly in community and friendships, so the moment Steve spoke the word stability in his sermon yesterday, he had my undivided attention.  
"The very foundation, the thing that holds us up, the thing that gives us stability, the thing from which we draw nutrition, all of that, is the love of Christ. 
If you do not feel, if you do not understand the love of Christ, there will be no stability in your life."   ~ Pastor Steve
Talk about perfect timing.  Yesterday I needed to be reminded of the gospel and repent of the ways I had been seeking stability outside of the love of Christ.  

I'm still uncertain of a lot of things, including whether God will fully open the door to be able to live in Richmond, but my stability does not come from being a part of a particular community, my stability comes from the love the Christ. 

Of course there are believers in Richmond, South Sudan, and around the world that are experiencing far more uncertainty and instability than I am in this season.  My prayer is that they would also have the stability that comes with truly knowing the love of Christ.  


This post seems like it could be part two of what God has been teaching me about His sufficiency in my life, particularly as it relates to community.  Check out my post from October on the reality of community if you missed it.