Building with Stories

Building with Stories

Stories made me to become who I am. In fact if there was a way of pulling out all the stories I heard and used throughout my life I would turn to be a different creation – not only a different person. I wouldn’t exist in the way I do today. Stories sustain life beyond shaping it – as building blocks of human beings. I am convinced: in the absence of stories human beings would never become what we are today.

I come from an oral culture – a culture that expresses itself orally rather than in a written way. Even before I was able to talk in my mother tongue stories were told to me by my parents, my siblings, my relatives, our neighbors, and other fellow villagers. Those stories were considered great gifts that I was grateful for. The stories passed messages of wisdom, bravery, love, obedience, loyalty, discipline, respect, fear of God, etc. Usually I was also expected to share the stories with others. We do not know when the stories began to circulate among our people. The only time reference used is “…at the time of ‘so and so’…”  But usually no one knows when “so and so” lived. The story had to continue that way. Time was not of big concern to our ancestors but the message of the story was. Retelling is the only way that keeps the stories alive in our culture. So whenever we had the chance, as children, we also tell the stories we know. Our stories were like fireworks that crisscross each other. You hear the same story from several people several times. You tell the same story to several people several times. These stories helped our culture remain intact. I think we will loose our culture once we allow alien stories to replace ours. In my culture when people sit under a shade as their animals graze in the fields they tell stories. In the river after leading their animals to water they tell stories. In the evening before and after dinner around the fireplace they tell stories. In village gatherings (due to weddings, mourning or other reasons) they tell stories – even when village elders sit to solve a problem they use stories. Without stories our ancestors wouldn’t be our ancestors and we wouldn’t be their descendants. Our rural community was a result of stories. I think regardless of the context it is similar with yours also – my dear readers. Now, I think you could see that I grew up immersed in the world of stories. Interestingly I am seeing myself getting immersed in a “ministry of stories!”

In January 2012 I bought a DVD called “The Ancient Path: Church Planting Training for Oral Cultures” that helped me to have the very first set of organized information on Oral Bible Storytelling Strategy. In March, the same year, I saw people using an Oral Bible Storytelling Strategy called “Simply The Story (STS),” which is an inductive bible study in Oral Style. It was amazing to witness how The Holy Spirit was using the Bible stories to talk to people’s hearts. I heard people confessing their sins in public – even pastors – after stories were shared and studied through this (STS) approach of bible study. What an amazing tool! My interest to the oral approach was building fast. After all it is an approach that is akin to the one that introduced me to the realities of life. But most importantly my ministry is in an oral culture. Hence, I needed to be systematically equipped with this tool. 100_2309                                       Pastor Santino (standing) telling a Bible story in Mapel

In late August 2012 I had the opportunity to be trained in STS, for the first time, along with three other colleagues. WGM’s missionaries Billy Coppedge and Scott Rambo trained us at Billy’s house in Arua, Uganda. Since then, I had the opportunity to learn more about STS approach from Billy and others during some trainings for South Sudanese church leaders. 100_3791                                                  Learning STS at Billy’s place in Arua

As I live among the Dinka people in Aduel, South Sudan I get so many God-given opportunities to tell Bible stories to individuals and groups of people in various places such as: churches, tea shops, boda boda (motorcycle taxi) parks, bus stations, etc. Again, in order to use all these opportunities effectively, I needed more experience and also more training in the STS approach.

100_2103                                      Opportunities to share Bible stories to the young men…

100_2143                         Opportunities to share Bible stories to traditional Dinka religion followers…

100_3617                                     Opportunities to share Bible stories to cattle keepers…

100_2155      Opportunities to share Bible stories to the Spear Masters (Dinka Traditional Religion Leaders)…

100_2159                              Opportunities to share Bible stories at the place of animal sacrifice…

100_2819                                          Opportunities to share Bible stories in tea shops…

100_4152                                    Opportunities to share Bible stories to our village boys…

In the second week of December last year I came to Kenya to spend two weeks with my family. But due to the conflict in South Sudan that is believed to have displaced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and killed thousands I had to stay in Kenya until the situation improves. It was difficult to predict how long it would take for the unrest to settle. So I wanted to use the month of January to attend some trainings that would help me in my ministry. Luckily there was a five-day STS training in Nairobi. It was God’s providence! I attended and it was a training in which I was able to get more skills through many practical sessions.

Now, sleeves up! I want to use this method to the maximum as I get or create opportunities. I believe God will use His stories to build the South Sudanese into a Holy Temple that glorifies Him. His stories can build individuals to His likeness. His stories can transform communities into godliness. His stories can build South Sudan into a godly nation. His stories can build the world for His glory!

100_4118                                                   A story telling session in a small group

IMG_2743                                                               Teaching about STS

In the area where I live the word of God is scarce. Instead the grip of the Dinka traditional religion is strong. The church group in Aduel is a minority. Those who belong to the traditional religion are the majority. Syncretism is another big challenge. On several occasions I find people mixing the worship of God with the worship of ancestors, as most of South Sudan continues to bear so many problems. Looking at the following figures one can notice the problems. In our area, according to the South Sudan National Bureau of Statistics (www.ssnbs.org):

•    94% of the population does not have access to any toilet facility. As a result diarrheal diseases and worms are common.
•    Under 5 Mortality Rate is 114 (per 1000 live births). It is very common to find parents who lost 2 or even 3 children before they reached their fifth birthday.
•    Maternal Mortality Rate is 2243 (per 100,000 live births). This is shocking!
•    Only 7% of children were fully immunized.
•    49% of the population lives below the poverty line.
•    Only 26% of the population can read and write.
Along with this, people tell us that insecurity is their biggest problem. I have personally seen petty quarrels between two individuals turn into a big physical fighting that involved many people from several villages. Due to such things, people feel very insecure.

I believe that good secular interventions would help to solve the above problems and other countless problems facing the South Sudanese. But it is my strong belief that genuine solution to these problems can only come from God. It is Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who can give genuine and durable peace, which is incomparable to the peace that the world seems to give. It is for this very reason that we in Mango Ministries are endeavoring to promote God’s stories in South Sudan. The South Sudanese church needs to be equipped with God’s stories. I thank God that I am witnessing a commendable progress of using God’s stories in my area. Pastor Joseph Meen and Pastor Peter Monyde, both Dinka who were first trained by Billy, are doing their best not only to spread God’s Stories but also to train other pastors in the STS approach. With God’s grace I am also doing my best to coach them in STS skills. In one occasion a Paramount Chief (traditional district head) who was invited to attend one of our STS trainings was captivated by the beauty of God’s Word as communicated through the stories and said; “Before we had only the baptism and the songs. But now, we have the Word of God.” Halleluiah! Yes, God is using His stories to transform people’s lives. Transformed people are people who are strong enough to shun violence. If we have transformed communities; killings, forced displacements, lootings and destruction of property as witnessed in the last six weeks would not happen. God’s stories can usher the much-needed transformation in South Sudan. Now dear readers, would you like to see or hear of transformation of South Sudanese? You can join hands with us.

1. Pray. You can participate in this ministry by your prayers. Please pray for:
•    Peace in South Sudan.
•    Pastors Meen and Moynde as they work hard to spread God’s word among their fellow pastors and the people of Diocese of Akot.
•    Me as I work to promote God’s stories and other messages that would help to bring transformation in South Sudan.
•    Helen, my wife, as she also has begun to learn and use God’s stories in the STS way.

2. Mobilize. You can mobilize your friends and your church members to pray for us, and our ministry.

3. Donate. You can also participate in our ministry by your donations. If God is leading you to do so, you can click here www.wgm.org/hidug for online giving. If you can’t use online donation yet want to donate you can let me know.100_5083                                  Our Mango Ministries’ compound in Aduel, where I live

Be Blessed!

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

World Mission

World Mission:-

https://www.dropbox.com/s/k7u2d93t78l4oi3/world%20mission.pdf

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

What a book can do…

What a book can do….

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What a book can do…

What a book can do…

100_4566

Let’s talk about books. I love books. If you are a Christian you definitely have to love books – at least 66 books. You might think many things of what a book can do. Some, like Michael the TV boy in Dave Eggers’ ‘What is the What’, may think that a book could be used to silence a victim. Well in my case many of the books I read silence my ignorance and help get rid of it from my life.

Have you heard about ‘Farming God’s Way’ (FGW)? When I first got a BOOK on FGW late last year I was excited. Our country coordinator Joy Phillips and my team mate Whitney Smith were also excited about it. So we agreed to include FGW in our CHE TOT 4 curriculum. For this reason Whitney and I thought of preparing a demonstration garden at In Deed and Truth (IDAT) Ministries in Tonj. Sabet and Suzy who are the leaders of IDAT welcomed the idea and we were to put the demonstration garden inside the IDAT compound. So we identified the area in the garden where we can plant, and decided on the type of crops we wanted to plant. The main crops we chose to plant were sorghum, and ground nuts because these are the main crops that the local people grow. Yet we also wanted to try some other crops and vegetables.

100_4552100_4524100_4529      My team mate Whitney Smith (in the middle picture above) and I, enjoyed preparing a demonstration garden for “Farming God’s Way” training.

100_4569Whitney putting manure in the seed holes

100_4596Just after putting and covering the seeds in the furrows

We left Tonj one day after planting the crops to conduct a CHE training in Werkok near Bor town. After the Werkok training I took time to visit the CHE team in Lui, and some folks using CHE and FGW in their ministry in Yei. I also had the opportunity to preach at the Eritrean church in Juba.  Whitney returned to Tonj earlier than me and was telling me that the FGW side of the garden was doing better than the traditional side. I came back to Tonj after five weeks.

IMG_3807            Left side of the sorghum is done FGW and right side in traditional way – our trainees witness the difference. (Photo by Jeff Stanfield)

On the day of my return to Tonj – after taking some cold water – I headed to the garden. Amazing! I saw what a book can do. Neither Whitney nor I had gone for FGW training, but we had carefully read the book on FGW. We wanted to see if what it says is true. What can a book do? We put FGW and traditional way gardens side by side for comparison where we put the same seed, planted on the same day, and watered it equally. The FGW side did much better. When I went to my bed room Jed (Sabet and Suzy’s son) had put a beautiful picture of Farming God’s Way on my bed that he drew. What a welcome! Thanks Jed boy!

100_5008Jed’s art work (Whitney and Adhanom Farming God’s Way)

IMG_3405                                   Putting God’s Blanket (mulch) (Photo by Jeff Stanfield)

Our team member Billy had come to Tonj with his family, and Jeff and Christine Stanfield to lead an STS training. I actually joined them in Rumbek and we all proceeded to Tonj together.

We had a successful STS training with more than 30 church leaders and members.

IMG_2835Sharing a story from 2 Kings 6:1-7 (Photo by Jeff Stanfield)

The CHE training that we started last year with the pastors from the Rumbek East County and Tonj was coming to an end. TOT 4 was the final TOT that we planned for.

IMG_3538CHE discussion time (Photo by Jeff Stanfield)

Dr. Rick Morse as the main facilitator came up with a curriculum and we all had a great time in the training.

After the CHE lessons we took two days to do the FGW training for the first time. I praise God for bringing such a great tool that His Church can use to chase poverty away from the lives of the believers and of the wider community. The training went very well. We hope and pray that the church leaders will begin to put this into practice to transform their lives and the lives of others around them.

IMG_4000Left FGW, right traditional garden (Photo by Jeff Stanfield)

According to Southern Sudan Centre for Census, Statistics and Evaluation (2011) 51 % of the population of South Sudan lives below poverty line. This is reflected in the churches. More than 90 % of the churches in my area meet under the shade of trees. Pastors could not get support from their congregations. Therefore they have to struggle to make ends meet for their families. Definitely there is a need to get out of this situation. I believe the CHE, STS, and FGW tools that we are using will have a great contribution towards the process of transformation of South Sudanese individuals, and communities.

If you want to learn more about CHE, STS, and FGW; check the following links: http://chenetwork.org, http://simplythestory.org/oralbiblestories/, http://www.farming-gods-way.org/

Dear reader, if you feel to be involved in this process of transformation, I assure you it is a God ordained process.

Peace!

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

WHAT DO YOU KILL?

What do you kill?

Before asking this question I should have asked ‘do you kill?” Well, I think I’m not that much of a linear thinker. Therefore I don’t feel the obligation to ask first question first. So, what do you kill?

 Deuteronomy 5:17 reads “you shall not murder.” (NIV)

The first definition given for the word ‘kill’ in my Collins English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary is “cause the death of”. The Tigrigna translation for the verse above can mean the same as ‘you shall not kill or do not kill’. ‘Aytiqtel’. I primarily read bible in Tigrigna. Hence I would have safely understood ‘you shall not murder’ to mean ‘you shall not kill’. While the dictionary definition of ‘kill’ is stated above, ‘murder’ is defined as ‘the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought’ in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary; and ‘unlawful intentional killing of a human being’ in Collins English Dictionary.

Now, it will be unlawful for me to make the ‘unlawful killing look lawful’. Murdering is killing but killing is not necessarily murdering. Ok, first things first: do you kill? I do kill. Even here in Adol I kill. Even today I killed. Don’t be shocked.

You may not have any idea of what I kill. I will tell you. It is getting hot here. That prompts the scorpions to get outside of their hiding especially when night comes. Naturally they like night. During the first five days of my return to the field in the second week of January 2013, I killed four scorpions in my room and in the veranda. Even tonight as I write this blog I killed another smaller one in the veranda: a fifth one. I have posted its picture here.

100_4505                                   The scorpion that I killed while writing this blog

Most of the scorpions here are not very poisonous. I have only heard of one child who died due to scorpion sting in this area. Many people here get stung by scorpions but recover shortly afterwards. I myself had been stung twice last year but it was not severe as I presumed would be. Here if you see a scorpion you kill it mercilessly if not it might sting you mercilessly. That is the practice in this land that I have also embraced. If you are a person who advocates for scorpions, practically that would be ‘another gospel’ here. I once thought if there would be other alternatives of getting rid of the scorpions without killing them, and actually asked some of my people – the Dinka. My question turned to be funny. After the laughter one young man said, “Ok let it go then, and it will come back again to teach you a lesson.” We all laughed together. Since I came to South Sudan I have killed many scorpions. Even though one can take lots of precautions, that I also do, killing seems the safest solution especially if it comes to an area of human dwelling. So I kill scorpions! That is why I said “I do kill”. Do you kill? Do you kill scorpions? I want you to kill as many scorpions as you can. When it gets dark here, I search if there are any in my room and veranda. It was ‘by searching’ that I was able to find those that I killed – just looking around for precautions. By the way I just finished reading Isobel Kuhn’s ‘By Searching’ before starting this blog – a wonderful book. Again, would you mind if I challenge you to search for scorpions and kill them? You are thinking I must be joking. No, I am not.

Usually God gives me lessons from many things that happen to be around me. My intention is not to convince anyone that the ‘arachnid’ scorpions should be killed. By the way, if you believe that they should not be killed, cheers! But I wonder if you would maintain that conviction if you happen to stay here for some time.

Dealing with scorpions reminds me of two things:

1. “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19, NIV).

This verse can be taken literally (cf. Acts 28:3-5) to mean as it is written. Yet I also believe that ‘snakes and scorpions’ here also have additional meaning. Snakes are bigger, more dangerous and poisonous creatures than scorpions. Apart from its literal meaning the word ‘snake’ also refers to ‘Satan’ (Revelation 12:9). Both snakes and scorpions tend to be active at night, even though they move during the day. I would say they represent the powers of darkness – Satan and his evil spirits. Through killing the scorpions I get reminded of my struggle – as a Christian – not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12). Praise God! The Lord has made me victor over the powers of darkness – Satan and his evil spirits.

2. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:…” (Colossians 3:5, NIV).

‘Put to death’ is ‘qitelu’ in Tigrigna. The same word used for ‘kill’. Here killing becomes lawful. I had not been merciful with the scorpions. I search for them in my room, the veranda, and some times beyond. Once I see one – even the smallest one – I haste to kill it. But God is using my actions towards the scorpions to challenge me. Do I behave the same way towards what belongs to my earthly nature that I have been told to put to death – kill? The Apostle Paul, though he started to list the things that belong to earthly nature such as sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry, and anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, lie, and discrimination (Colossians 3:5, 8, 11, NIV – italics mine) his list is open. One just needs to search for these ‘scorpions of earthly nature’ which can make a big list. The word ‘whatever’ encourages us to ‘search’ for any identifiable earthly nature in us that has not yet been put to death or that we have not got rid of. To search for the scorpions I use light in the dark, check the sites in my room that I think a scorpion might be hiding. I believe when searching for earthly nature in us, we can use the word of God, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our conscience, and our mental judgment as Christians. So, this is how God is challenging me to learn from the daily happenings here.

“‘Don’t play with a knife’ said the hen” says an Amharic proverb, and “Do not play with scorpions.” advices one of the CHE lessons on First Aid. Let’s not play with earthly nature lest it will play with our dear life.

So, ‘what do you kill?’ ‘By searching’ we can find what earthly nature we need to put to death or get rid of. Let’s keep killing any earthly nature that shows up! May God help us! Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

ርሑስ በዓል ልደት!

ልደት

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Sudan and Me

SUDAN AND ME

Leaves can be used as umbrellas. Sudan is hot!                                         Leaves can be used as umbrellas. Sudan is hot!

This is a love story. I foresee it is going to be a long one. In the future my stories may not be long though. Bear with me.

Soba-Noba was a name that I was familiar with since my early childhood. But I didn’t know that the name was proper to the ancient peoples of Sudan until later time. Among the stories I heard during my childhood some related that the Soba-Noba were, hundreds of years ago, inhabitants of Rora Mensae in Eritrea, mainly the Zein area, near the village where I was born and spent my early childhood. In the stories these people were portrayed as powerful warriors, civilized, good looking, etc. I used to like hearing their stories. History can witness that the Soba-Noba refers to the ancient peoples/kingdoms of Sudan. Their kingdoms were probably extended up to Eritrea (Gash Barka and Anseba). I was privileged to visit Soba, near Khartoum, in 2007.

Many of my relatives, including my two uncles, were living in Sudan during my childhood. My grandmother went to Sudan to see my uncles. I was very young then. I remember her telling us stories that we all liked – except that she was not happy that many Sudanese were calling her ‘Habashiya’. The tattoo of cross on her forehead was exposing that she is a ‘Habashiya’ – a woman from Ethiopia or Eritrea.

When one of my relatives came from Sudan to get married I had not started going to school. Even my older sister had not started. He brought cloths for his family members from Sudan. He also brought a big tape recorder/player, first of its type in our village. I was jealous. During his honey moon – there was no privacy for newly married couples in my community until it gets real late in the night – people would crowd in his home to enjoy the music that was coming from ‘this thing’ that came from Sudan. I liked Sudan and its things. No one in my village knew that ‘the thing’ was made in Japan. I doubt if, at that time, anyone from our village knew about Japan or Yaban (as we call it now). I couldn’t tolerate my joy when my aunt who went to see my cousin in Sudan brought me a nice shirt, trouser, and a pair of shoes. I felt I was adorned in a Sudanese way. My aunt liked me. I share the same name with my grandfather – her father that she lost when she was about two years old.

Around the school where I started my education there was a Sudanese nomadic family with their camels. Their boys were grown up. They used to enjoy playing with us – the students. They gave me an Arabic nick name which people used to call me for a number of years even after I was transferred to another school. I am not sharing the nick name with you now. It has expired. The Sudanese boys were nice. I liked them.

Later when I was in grade five another relative came from Sudan. In our community there was no one who didn’t have a number of relatives in Sudan. I asked him to teach me Arabic. He was glad to teach me spoken Arabic. He could only speak it, not write. I still remember some of the words and phrases he taught me. He was not easily available. Yet the brief exposure with him made me to like Sudan more. No one had ever told me about the Sudanese generosity the way he did. [After two decades I proved his words while I was in Omdurman. It was true. Sudanese are generous]. That year I tried to continue learning Arabic from the kids in my village who were going to the Islamic school that they called Khalwa. They were using a wooden tablet to write on using locally made ink. I learned how to make the ink, but unlike them I didn’t use it. I used my pen to write on paper. Some times I would want to hold their tablet and they would insist that I have to make ablution. My parents didn’t knew but I admit that on few occasions I did ablution with sand, and was allowed to touch their tablets. I still remember reciting few of the Arabic scripts they chanted. My grandfather – my dad’s uncle – was glad to see such a desire in me. He was a Moslem. He thought I was making early steps towards Islam the way he did years ago. This exposure was also brief. During my school years I was going wherever the Franciscan priests would assign me for my schooling. I was a tithe to the church, as some of my family members were saying. We were ten (eight children plus our parents). Sudan seemed the source of Arabic to my young knowledge. To me learning Arabic was relating with Sudan and Islam also. There was a time when I contemplated of becoming a Moslem. My grandfather who left my dad and aunt as orphans had for a short time become a Moslem and divorced his Christian wife – my grandmother. Almost all his kinsmen had changed to Islam by then. He didn’t have children. Later he changed his mind and restored his marriage. When he went to my grandmother’s parents’ house after dropping his new faith he couldn’t say much but the following words in his father-in-law’s presence. [He was an oral poet. Unlike my dad he didn’t suppress his talent of poetry].

Pacific daughter of Rora
Pacific daughter of Rora
Her leg is not a wanderer
Her mouth not a fight monger
It was only kismet that made me a loser.

My dad and my aunt were born to the restored marriage. I think this story helped me to tame my contemplations.

I presume that some of you who are reading this do not have ample time to read a long story. Excuse me, but I have warned that it might be a long article. Anyway let me shorten the love story – ‘the story of how a passion for Sudan might have developed in me’. There were several happenings after the above mentioned ones that attracted me towards Sudan such as friends and colleagues who lived in Sudan, Sudanese neighbors at home, Sudanese music, etc. In the past I had been talking about how God brought me to work with Him in Soudan. But I felt He also would want me to share how he was putting things together to give me the passion for Soudan. That is why I opted to share the stories from the early days in my life – the stories of my love with Sudan. I liked many things from Sudan including my dad’s favorite ‘Tamar Kassala’ – the Kassala Dates. But let me tell you the truth. I was not only attracted towards Sudan. In the mid 2000s I was also pushed towards it. I will not tell you why and how. I have promised to shorten the story. But I would like to tell you that God used all these to give me a heart for Sudan.
100_0943      In South Sudan: sharing the word of God and Bishop Isaac Dhieu translating.

I was finally able to see Sudan and the Sudanese as much as I could, and interestingly I immediately became avid reader of some of the Sudanese newspapers and acquainted myself with Sudan. Awhile I was in Khartoum I was able to do some ministry among fellow Eritreans and Ethiopians. But I was feeling that I should minister with the Sudanese too.  Specifically I felt of going to southern Sudan – though my heart was and is for the whole of Sudan. But I didn’t know how. I only knew that God knows. I prayed about this among several competing desires. When I left Khartoum God continued to build my passion for Sudan in different ways. Since 2007 I never followed the news about any other country the way I did about Sudan. There was something drawing me to Sudan. Thus God finally calmed down the waves of competing desires in me and guided me to join World Gospel Mission (WGM) in South Sudan since September 2011. This was one of great experiences of God’s guidance in my life. Praise God!

You may know much about South Sudan. Can I just share few facts? The name Sudan (aka Soudan) comes from the Arabic word for Black. Sudan is home for Black Africans and people of Arab descent. Until recently I knew that Sudan was the largest country in Africa. I don’t know which country has that title now.

The war between the government of Sudan and the people of southern Sudan marked one of Africa’s longest civil wars. As a result in 9 July 2011 Sudan split into two independent countries. The dominantly Moslem and Arab north that had been fighting with the Christian and animistic south maintained the name Sudan. It is now a Sudan without its former southern states – a country on its own. On the other hand southern Sudan got its independence from the north on the above stated date and now is an independent country under the name South Sudan. The newest country in the world! It snatched Eritrea’s title.

South Sudan is still a big country (five times the size of Eritrea) with a total population of 8.26 million. Kenya, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of Congo are its neighbors to the south, while   Ethiopia is its neighbor from the East. Central African Republic lies to the west and Sudan to the north. The capital city of South Sudan is Juba but the government is believed to be working to relocate the capital to a new place called Ramciel. This may take several years. The South was unbelievably disadvantaged in the past several decades if not centuries, and illiteracy, poverty, lack of access to basic needs, etc, etc are high raised flags until now.
100_2776                                                  This was an exceptionally cold day.
100_3921                                             This is how I travelled to Juba in September.
100_3609                              Safe water is scarce. This pond near my village is multi-purposed.

100_4145                 This is a class room in South Sudan. In our county such class rooms are common.

Hey, if you want to know more facts about South Sudan I recommend checking http://www.goss.org

Wait, I need to tell you about my people. Add Blin, Tigrigna, Tigre, Beja all together. My genes have contributions from all these tribes, and may be from more others that I didn’t know. What is my tribe? May be I should call it ‘BTTB’ for convenience. I am in South Sudan where a tribe is very important. If in Rome I have to walk like the Romans; then BTTB is my tribe. BTTB and other Eritrean peoples are my people. But here I am not going to tell you about these. I am going to tell you about “People of the People” or “Men among Men”: The Muonyjang. That is how my people call themselves. Non-Muonyjangs commonly call them Dinka. Dr John Garang de Mabior was a Muonyjang. President Salva Kiir Mayardit is a Muonyjang. Dinkas are black and tall native Africans. They are the real Soudan. Some Dinka have told me that even Khartoum is a Dinka name. It is. May be Khartoum once belonged to Dinka, some think. In Dinka language Kar means branch of a river, and Tuom means join together. When you put these two words together you have ‘Kartuom.’ Do you know what happens in Khartoum? The great rivers: the White Nile and the Blue Nile join together – to roar as one. There are etymologists among the Dinka as in my BTTB tribe. So, Kartuom (which later developed to Khartoum) is in Dinka not in Arabic.

100_4045                                  Dinka are known for their cows. This in in my village: Aduel

Dinka make about 25% of the total population of South Sudan, and they live mainly in Upper Nile and Bahr El Gazal areas of South Sudan. They have several dialects, but generally understand each other. Even though my work is not limited with Dinka, it has mainly brought me into contact with Dinka Agar and Dinka Rek: two sub-tribes from Dinka. The Dinka Agar live in Lakes State where I stay most of my time. The capital of the state is called Rumbek. I am now trying to learn the Dinka language and their culture. I hope to share about their culture in the future – from the student’s point of view.

I feel that God had been molding me according to His pattern in the past one year since I joined WGM – he had ever been molding me regardless of my failure to imitate him. I understand that one needs to be transformed to facilitate real transformation. In line with this I can testify that a multi-dimensional transformation took place in my life in the past one year. That is God and I working together. We are co-workers. We enjoy being together, working together, celebrating together. Not far from each other, bond to oneness, open to each other. That is Us. Beyond me, We work to see transformed lives in South Sudan and beyond. My passion was revitalized when God made me part of a small but growing team at WGM: The Mango Ministries (MM). Mangoes grow very well in South Sudan. Currently I am growing four mangoes among other fruit trees. Mango Ministries is not all about planting, growing or eating mangoes, even though we also promote all these. Promote even eating mangoes. I am waiting for March – the pick mango season – to eat plenty. In MM we want to facilitate putting down deep roots – in the lives of people, bear fruit, and multiply the harvest for the glory of God and the benefit of his people.
DSCN2934Our MM team (from left our Country Coordinator Joy Phillips, Tim Conway, Me and Sophie, Whitney Smith, Joanna Coppedge and Elsie, Billy Coppedge and Lucy, CT and Chloe). CT is from WGM Uganda.
100_2472                                  During Community Health Evangelism (CHE) training in Tonj.

100_3982     Travelling to Udu, a village in Western Equatoria. Several times I had to cross streams like this.

Since I joined WGM’s MM our team was privileged to do great jobs in medical consultancies, church leadership empowerment, and transformational community development. One of our recent activities was training of 71 South Sudanese pastors in Simply the Story (STS) – an oral bible teaching approach. In the years ahead of us we believe to continue as God’s co-workers in all our activity areas including facilitating a Wholistic Transformation. You can become God’s co-worker with MM and me in South Sudan. Remember, in God’s field it is allowed to work here and there. You may be having more than one job, some times working part time. In God’s field you can work in and with many fields. So you and I can become co-workers in the field that MM is assigned by God to work with God for God. If you want to be part of MM I would be glad to share with you how you could get involved. You can let me know at adhanom.adhanom@gmail.com. But I can’t fail to mention to you one of the ways that you can be MM’s co-worker. It is by ‘Prayer’. If you commit yourself to be MM’s co-worker in prayer God would use your prayers to accomplish great things through you, MM.
100_4078                                  MM member Billy Coppedge teaching STS in Dhiuakuei.
100_4256                                         Our Latest CHE training (on 1st November 2012)

Finally this article is coming to an ending. You may know that if the spring is open it is not easy for me to stop it. I really don’t know when the spring opens, but I love it when it is open. I become me.

Before I lift my fingers off the keyboard you would like me to introduce my wife and daughters. Won’t you? Helen had some attractions to Sudan too, and was also pushed to it in the mid 2000s. She worked there for two years. She is my dear wife, devotedly taking care of our daughters, diligently praying for her husband and the ministry he is involved in. She is a MM co-worker in her prayers and encouragement. Fasika, our first born has so far learned two Dinka songs. She loves Dinka songs like her daddy.  Shamna, our second born loves all the three people (with their attractions to Soudan). DSCF5805

Helen and our daughters.

We had excitedly welcomed Hanan, our third born daughter on November 6, but God who is her creator and our creator allowed her to be with us only for four days. This was a difficult experience for us, but God gave us His grace in abundance and we trustfully echoed Paul’s doxology:

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen!” (Romans 11: 33 NIV)

Thank you for reading. God bless you!

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Posts coming soon…

It has been quite long time since I had been thinking, praying and planning to start a blog. Finally I decided to blog on wordpress.com. I hope you will enjoy my blogs.

Posts are coming soon…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment