"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." - Matthew 7:7-8
South Sudan: a land of intense conflict, refugee crises, and little resources. Ever since gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, the country has been experiencing turmoil, often at the expense of the innocent. Hunger pangs run deeply and fear is a familiar friend. A much-too-often story told.
But, even in the midst of such darkness, there is hope.
Once some of the violence started to wane, a local Church of Christ in the region (which happens to be a partner with IDES) began the hard work of reaching out to meet the needs of the refugees who chose to return to their home villages.
"Many IDPs had returned back to their place of living around the capital Juba including our village of Gudele. Some of them had problems of accommodation because their houses had been occupied since they had fled the area under gunfire. Squatters did not want to leave their house and the majority of them needed of some basic essential needs, temporary settlement, utensils, clothing, food and medicine among others. We wanted to address their primary need for survival in the name of Jesus," our partner church reported.
In December, IDES was blessed with the opportunity to assist this church in South Sudan in purchasing food-stuffs and cooking materials to be distributed to the refugees. Following the example of Jesus Christ in travelling from village to village and sharing the good news through meeting physical needs, the local church was able to make a huge difference in the lives of those helped. Here is one personal testimony from a recipient:
"On behalf of my family and my children, The suffering that we gone through since 2013 from the beginning of conflict we lost our properties my home where destroy and even most of my relative have death and we ran to United Nations Internally Displaced Persons camps for shelter. After the signing of peace agreement I decided to come out from the UN camp to start new life from zero point with nothing in hand and today am very very happy for [the local pastors] including the leaders of [name removed for safety] Church of Christ for distributing us free food like what happen in this community since we come out, Non Government organizations and government leaders have failed to provide survivors with food and safe water for drinking- may God Bless you who have partnered with [the local Church of Christ] and may He give you more to feed poor people like us."
Praise God for sending his laborers into the harvest fields of South Sudan!
But, let's be honest here. What does this have to do with you? How are you personally connected to this story?
Before we answer that, let us ask you another question. What do you ask God for? We the people of the USA are relatively blessed when it comes to having our basic physical needs met. Not many of us are asking God for food for our children, or for safety against militant groups that have attacked nearby towns and cities -- simply because we do not have to. But couldn't we ask God for these very things on behalf of our brothers and sisters in places like South Sudan who do desperately need food and safety? Couldn't we fervently intercede in prayer for the Churches that are being the hands and feet of Jesus to these unreached peoples?
"Ask, and it will be given to you." Those are the words of Jesus Christ during the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 7. If we ask in faith, and ask according to God's sovereign will, we are promised our prayers will be answered. Perhaps not how we expect them, and perhaps not in the timing we would hope -- but most certainly according to God's perfect will and timing.
So, what does this story have to do with you? It is your prayers that will be answered. It is your faith in Christ that will be rewarded. It is your generosity that will be multiplied over and over to meet the needs of the hungry and hurting in Jesus' name.
IDES is thankful to stand as the "middle-man" between the local church here (you) and the local church there. With your help, IDES is able to assist those far-off local churches in South Sudan as they make disciples of Jesus Christ. Let us together ask God to bless those who are suffering in the world. Let us together seek out God's wisdom in how best to help them. Let us together knock on the many doors of opportunity until the door is opened to make an eternal difference.
It feels appropriate to end this post with a testimony from another beneficiary of this project in South Sudan:
"I was very happy indeed at this moment before I was thinking it is a Christmas time what will I eat with my family on 25th, but am happy because my God has answered my prayer in the time of need as it was written in the book of Mathew 7:7-12 and with small testimony that I have may God bless you."