From David Taylor, Missions Pastor at Shandon Baptist Church, Columbia, SC:
On Friday, we went to the largest refugee camp in the world, Bidi Bidi, located in Northern Uganda. It has only been open for one year, yet it has over 300,000 refugees who have recently fled South Sudan because of the ongoing killing between tribes. As Jon, Mark, our new friends, and I drove into the camp, stirring thick clouds of dust from two Land Rovers, we noticed tent structures, makeshift housing, and designated play areas provided by UNICEF, Save the Children, World Vision, and others. I was glad to see signs of help, yet I wrestled that this crisis was too much to handle for government and non-goverment organizations. How could they, much less our two small carloads, cause warring tribes from a war-torn country to be at peace with each other? Like the dust we stirred on the road, I felt our impact would likely settle back to the ground within a few minutes of our passing through. Although certain we three Americans would not have sustained impact; my hope in God and His church swelled in the next several minutes as we made our way to one of Empower One’s refugee Bible colleges. I’m grateful for what He allowed me to see.
Through the dust, we arrived to a rather well-groomed plot of structures, considering the conditions of a refugee camp. We were in the middle of a Bible college set up by Empower One to train young church planters. The well-planned plot contained a small dorm, an outhouse, a kitchen hut, a shaded area for fellowship, and a chapel. As we got out of the car, five South Sudanese men warmly welcomed us. They were the teachers. It was good to learn their names and chat with them in the shade for a few minutes. I was eager to preach the message I had been invited to share.
Since the dorm looked small and the area was quiet, I assumed I would be teaching about 20 church planters. To my surprise, there were more like 85. They had been quiet because they had been patiently and eagerly waiting to hear God’s Word. Stepping into the crowded chapel, I stepped into a room of hope that proved God was stirring something which would not quickly settle.
In this same room, men from various warring tribes, even the Dinka tribe, were gathered in one accord with their Bibles open. We stood to sing, and I won’t forget what God said to me through their strong, loud, jubilant unison: “Our God is able; Our God is able; Our God is able; We shall Sing Hallelujah! Amen!”
Yes, God is able! Jesus is the answer to this crisis. These church planters with Empower One are preparing to take the gospel to various tribes. In a land with unstable government, among tribes at war, God will bring a new and eternally stable Kingdom. Empower One has a bold vision to reach over a million people with the gospel by 2020 by planting hundrends of church-planting churches in Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Uganda, Kenya, Congo, and Ethiopia.
I have been praying for some time now that God would bring healing among tribes in South Sudan through a massive movement of God. He was at work before I even knew to pray, and He will do more than any of us know. I am so grateful for this glimpse of what God is doing and that Mark, Jon, and I had the opportunity to connect with yet another solid mission organization on our trip this week. I look forward to exploring how we can work with our new friends: Lona, Patricia, Favor, and Pastor David Kaya.
A note from Jim:
Jon and Mark should be in Entebbe by now, in the middle of a few last meetings. They will get dinner, probably on the shore of Lake Victoria, before heading to the airport. They fly out late tonight (about 4:30pm US time) and be back in Columbia Sunday afternoon.
David is traveling back to Kiryandongo with Brian and Pastor Sosthen. He will attend worship at Emmanuel Baptist Church tomorrow and then head home. He will get back to Columbia on Monday afternoon.
Prayers for safe travel are appreciated! If sounds like it has been a great week of ministry and I can’t wait to get all the details!