The threat of starvation and violence bears heavily upon families in South Sudan, each of whom are extremely anxious for peace and food security.
Following several years of ongoing civil war, as well as a remarkably hot drought that killed all of the crops, famine is sweeping through the nation during the first few months of 2017. This would be a most difficult environment for any Christ-follower to spread the hope of Jesus. The forces of darkness seem insurmountable. But, the light of Hope is eternally more powerful.
Thanks to your generosity, our brothers and sisters in Christ in South Sudan are making a difference in the lives of families who are suffering. We wanted to share their story with you, because we believe we can all learn from their example of faith.
Throughout 2017, you have provided emergency food for hungry families. IDES' local mission partners, all of whom are ministers in their communities throughout the region, have distributed the food based upon need. They have also actively and boldly shared the Gospel with the families being served.
IDES' efforts to eradicate hunger in these communities are ongoing, but hunger relief is not our end-goal. Providing food is the means by which IDES' partners build loving relationships with community members in order to share the hope of Jesus.
"In our hands as native citizens of this land, many lose their hope for peace and the leadership of our country South Sudan," our partner said. "Even the peace process--its terms are coming to an end without proper determination of our future. Our concern as the faithful church of Christ, in conjunction with the other local churches around, is to preach the message of peace within the communities, and we are hopeful that this will be the only tool [needed] to bring peace back to our country, by the words of Almighty God."
Our partners' faith in God is unshakable, even in the face of famine and conflict. Something that has become evident upon our partners' testimony is the importance of being united with fellow believers during times of suffering. Throughout this outreach process, the local minister quoted has met with and included other churches than his own from the surrounding region. The strong and gracious bond that these believers have, despite their minuscule differences, has led to tremendous spiritual impact in their communities.
"The main agenda we discussed was how the local churches may come together and bring unity among themselves to activate their church programs to bring all the different communities into the world of Christianity through the work of our evangelism mission," our partner said. "In regard to our meeting, we also shared a way forward in how we may empower [fellow] disciples and Christians to furnish their faith and love in Christ Jesus for everlasting life in the kingdom of God. By the grace and peace from the almighty Father, we are hopeful to work as joined Christians, determined for one vision as the eternal life in heaven."
At the end of one of the food distributions, a woman named Zuwana proclaimed her newfound faith in Jesus and was baptized!
"I plan for them in the end more lessons from the Bible. At the end of our lessons, those who believe are able to submit their whole life to God through baptism, like our beloved new sister in Christ, Zuwana, who I was baptized a week after [the distribution].
Because of your love for those suffering around the world, lives and souls are being saved in Jesus' name.
"To our brothers and sisters at IDES, it has been extremely difficult to provide food and without your assistance many would starve. You have carried a burden that allows us to preach the word of God - not only in word, but in action."