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People are unreached for a reason. They're in difficult places with difficult conditions.

Heartbroken but still in Love: South Sudan

Heartbroken    This week we our blogging will consist of putting faces on the chaos going on in South Sudan.

You’ve heard the stats: at least 1000 dead . . . 150,000 displaced.  Numbers don’t move us like faces and stories. This week you’ll be meeting Simon and Rachel, Pastor John, Two Teachers, a family separated at the Nile and more.  First of all, I want you to meet Batuk.

Tweeters: Our team will be tweeting using the hashtag  #heartbroken.  It’s one way to keep up with the crisis in South Sudan and our work.  You can also stayed informed and praying through hashtags such as #south sudan and #juba.

Kakwa region is where three countries join: South Sudan, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of Congo
The Kakwa region is where three countries join: South Sudan, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of Congo

 

A Dinka named Batuk

I wonder where he’s at.

I wonder if he’s even alive.

I first met Batuk at a lonely border checkpoint in South Sudan just north of the tri-point of where South Sudan{SS}, Uganda, and DR Congo converge.)

The Ghazi checkpoint is deep in SS’s Kakwa territory and it surprised us to see a Dinka.

He was easily identified as Dinka, the tallest people in the world. They are viewed by other tribes as

arrogant and aggressive.

Batuk didn’t make a good first impression. He was dressed in a running suit and approached our vehicle with a swagger that implied, “I’m in charge.”

He was the immigration Officer for this stretch of pot-holed section of dirt road that cannot be called a highway.

Batuk began an interrogation of where we five “Mzungu” men were going and why.

 

As we informed him of our mission work, he scoffed.  “Jesus is a white man’s God.”

He continued his monologue ending with, “If Jesus appeared right here, I wouldn’t bow down to him.”

We were glad to leave his checkpoint and head north but knew he’d be waiting on our return trip.

There he was. Dressed in his running suit uniform.

However, we’d written down his name and addressing him personally was the first brick to fall in the wall between us.

Several months later, DeDe, our son Clint, and I returned though Ghazi. We were ready for him with two things.

First of all, I addressed him by name and alluded to our previous visit.

A quizzical smile appeared on his face. I then handed him the photo shown below.

“You said Jesus was a white man’s God.”

This painting, one of my favourites,  is from the Catholic Guesthouse in Goma, DR Congo.

This painting, one of my favourites, is from the Catholic Guesthouse in Goma, DR Congo.

He glanced from the photo to me. “That’s just how they drew him as African.”

“Every culture makes Jesus look like their own.”  I put my white hand on his dark arm.  “Besides, the real Jesus probably was closer to your skin color than mine.”

He smiled.  Then I handed him our bribe. A loaf of DeDe’s famous banana bread. “We brought this for you.”

“For me?”

“Yep.”

 

Works like the Proverbial Charm: a bribe of bread, cookies, or bottle water.
Works like the Proverbial Charm: a bribe of bread, cookies, or bottle water.

He ushered us through the checkpoint, wishing good luck on our journey.

Three days later on our return, he greeted us effusively. It must’ve been the banana bread.

He stood toe to toe with me. “I have one thing I want from you.”

I stiffened; ready for the infamous “African Ask” we face nearly daily.

“I want two books.”

He had my attention.

“I want a book called 70 Great Christians and I want a Bible.”

I’d never heard of the book but promised I’d find it if possible and deliver it in January.

He walked us to our Land Cruiser.  “God bless you on your way home.”

We waved and headed south. Over the next ten miles of potholes we talked of the change we’d seen in him.  It wasn’t the banana bread. I firmly believe it was the work of the Holy Spirit.

Back home in Uganda, I ordered 70 Great Christians from Amazon. Our son Terry brought it over last month.  Our guard Oscar is currently reading it. It’s a fine book covering historic Jesus-followers from ‘ThePostlePaul’ to Corrie Ten Boom.

I planned on presenting the book and Bible to Batuk as we passed through Ghazi next week.

But we won’t be going. Crossing the border into South Sudan is sadly out of the question right now.

As I think and pray about people in the war-torn country of South Sudan, I often think of Batuk. How is he?  Is he still at his border post deep among a people group we love deeply but who have a history of not loving the Dinka.

I pray for him.

Will you join me in praying for him? Pray that somehow I can get the books to him. He needs to know there is one white-face that keeps a promise and is not put off by his demeanor and attitude.

As you pray, pray for Batuk’s safety.  Pray that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, will come to rule in his heart.

What is happening in our country of South Sudan is heart breaking. But in spite of the chaos, God is working.

Two of our team’s couples saw 75 people baptized yesterday in a remote part of South Sudan.

God is working.

I also believe the work God started in Batuk’s heart is ongoing.

Even though we’re currently shut out of Ghazi and SS, we will continue to work.

Even though you are a continent and an ocean away, you can be part of what God is doing. Pray!

Pray for Batuk.

 

People are unreached for a reason. They're in difficult places with difficult conditions.
People are unreached for a reason. They’re in difficult places with difficult conditions.

 

 

 

 

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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