An unusual kind of RMNI team traveled to Torit and Juba, S. Sudan March 9-23, travel inclusive. With us was Arnold Polk, designer of a unique block-making machine. Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church funded this unit, and it took over a year for it to arrive on site. It uses only a little cement in each block and no mortar between blocks. Once the footer for the foundation is laid, blocks can be rapidly laid. The walls of a large one-story building can be in place in one-three days, depending upon size. Then blocks are covered inside and out with stucco. Plumbing and electrical lines are placed within the twin holes of each block. More information about this amazing technology is on Arnold's website. Pictured is the first block made at Torit and a small training structure.
Joe Huebscher and I traveled on to Juba to work with the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan for a two-day seminar, while fourteen people were trained on the block machine in Torit. We enjoyed very much the interaction with the audience in Juba. We taught on how local churches can be self-sufficient, and Joe taught on how to start a small business. We also visited churches in Yei and Morobo. We appreciate very much working with Patrick Oting in Torit and with William Jada in Juba.
Our fifth trip to S. Sudan was characterized by unseasonably hot weather. By God's grace we came through it, and were able to complete our assignments. Here's a small example of the block machine's work.
We spent time with Ellen Fox, at the Torit hospital and invested time in a budding partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Sudan, headquartered in Juba. The interlocking block machine pictured is due in S. Sudan by year's end. This will enable teams interested in building projects to get involved. We have two church buildings and a prison chapel that we'd like to complete, by God's grace.
This year's Southern Sudan ministry focused upon teaching and evangelism--particularly upon both personal and open-air evangelism. By God's grace 80 made professions of faith in Sudan and Uganda. We had freedom to preach at Torit's city center and to share Christ with shop owners and passers-by. Conditions at Torit improved significantly since 2007.
We also had a wonderful opportunity to help equip church planters and evangelists, and to participate in both house-to-house evangelism and in outdoor preaching at Ntenjeru, Uganda.
The trip went so smoothly that only at the end of the did it become clear why--two churches had prayed for us around-the-clock.
This, our second ministry trip to southern Sudan, was more rigorous than our typical trips to (East) Africa. Southern Sudan is recovering from a civil war that lasted for over 20 years. Our Sudanese coordinator is a graduate of two Bible colleges and longtime friend. He heads the Presbyterian Church of Southern Sudan, under which we serve. We were able to serve those who have been under-served, due to war, for a long time.
We found the city and area around Torit (Eastern Equatoria Province) much as we expected, except that it appears to be burgeoning economically. We were able to present seminars to men in Torit and in Kajjansi, Uganda on church leadership, marriage and personal finances and to women on getting to know God, and to many children about salvation, prayer and African geography. RN David Haley treated almost 590 patients at clinics, mostly young children. We also evangelized, seeing about 27 professions of faith. We plan to post a slide presentation of the trip soon, but in the meantime, check David's journal of the trip.
Two impressions arise from our June visit to Lohutok, Eastern Equatorial Province. First is God's common grace imparted to a culture. It would have taxed our founding fathers (and mothers) to have derived such a system of social checks and balances and orderly government. Second is God's provision. He provided safety, good food and our health was disturbed only briefly by various ailments, except for one serious ankle break. A medical evacuation flight landed within 2.5 hours (it's a 1.5 hour flight from the airport base). Then an anonymous donor in America advanced all the funds needed for the hospitalization and medical evacuation flight. The needs of the Lopit tribe are significant. How help can be given without damaging what is godly in the culture is challenging, as it is to any "undeveloped" culture.