A letter from Jacob and Aliamma George in Sudan
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4: 6-7)
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. (Psalm 46:9)
These Bible verses became very practical in our lives on the night of February, on February 4 and on Feb.5. On Thursday, Feb.3 at 10:30 p.m. we received a call from the Reverend Gideon Tai, general secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Sudan, saying, “There is a gunfight at the airport at Malakal now. If it continues, I will send the driver to you or I will come myself to your apartment and get you. If I do not call you again, please go to sleep. If there is a serious problem, I will call you and come and get you from your apartment.” We got dressed, packed our essentials in a bag and got ready to leave at any time. Since we did not get any more calls, Jacob went to sleep by midnight and Aliamma stayed awake for some time.
We had no electricity that night in our area, but could see light far away in the direction of the airport and the animals in the nearby areas started screaming (cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, roosters, etc.) due to the unusual light and noise situation. By 1:00 a.m., electricity was restored and our fan started working. With the noise of the fan Aliamma could not concentrate on the outside noise and was able to sleep.
Jacob woke up at 5:30 a.m. and at 7:15 a.m. we heard continuous gunfire. It was going on and on, and within minutes, Rev. Tai was in front of our apartment with a driver to take us to safety. He had his priestly collar on his shirt and therefore the army officers on the street let us go to the house of the moderator of the church without any trouble.
The Right Reverend Peter Makuac Nyak, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Sudan, welcomed us into his home warmly and treated us with love and care. There were other church officials in the house at that time and we could hear the sound of gunshots constantly. It went on for more than three hours and we heard the sounds of tanks fighting, too.
Psalm 91 was a great source of strength at that time. The moderator offered us a room in his house to rest. We took rest in that room for a few hours and by 2:00 p.m. it was safe for us to come back to our apartment. The driver brought us home and we stayed inside the apartment the next two days. We managed with whatever food we had in the house. All the stores were closed for the next three days.
On Sunday, things were coming back to normal. By 9:00 a.m. the church compound was full of people. There were eight army officers with guns outside the church compound and four officers inside. The worship services went on peacefully and Jacob preached in the Dinka congregation. The subject of the sermon he had planned was “Fear Not.” It was very appropriate for that day and was well received.
Now we understand what it meant when our friends here used to tell us that they could not go and continue their education or do any business or work in a stable way “due to wars.” Recently we started up a conversation with a young man in a restaurant because he spoke good English. After a while he told us that he was a high school student. We asked him how old he was; he smiled shamefully and said “thirty”. That is what the wars have done to many of the youngsters here.
Whenever we are in the market area we make it a point to sit down and talk to people. Two young people were talking to us in the market one day and we talked for about 30 minutes while drinking tea. We encouraged both of them to continue their studies and go to church and when we departed, one of them said, “I learned something from you.”
The church here is a source of great strength for the people here. Last Sunday, the first service in the church where we attended had 1,910 people packed inside and people were waiting outside. Next door, a few feet away, another worship service was going on at the same time in a different dialect. People sing with joy and worship with spirit. There are no “Sunday bulletins,” but “bullets” of praise and song. It was interesting to see people going out after the service, singing while shaking the hands of the pastors outside.
We are expecting a group of distinguished PC(USA) mission officers to Malakal next week. That will be an encouragement for us and the Presbyterian Church of Sudan.
The Giffen Institute of Theology where we teach classes will be starting this week. Jacob will be teaching the class on “Preaching Practice/Principles of Biblical Preaching” while Aliamma will be teaching the class on “HIV/AIDS Awareness/Community Health Education”. At the same time, we continue our language learning. Please pray for us and for our partners in mission.
We thank you for the prayers and support you provide and may God bless you abundantly for it.
Jacob and Aliamma George.
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 54