A letter from Jacob and Aliamma George in South Sudan
The Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly Psalm 84:11
October is the month of harvest in many places, but not in our area—especially this year. The only item we see that is fresh are a very few corncobs, which are also very expensive in the market. We have only a few food items available in the market and hope the situation will improve when the road construction is completed from Ethiopia to South Sudan and the North Sudan business tie is restarted or South Sudan starts producing its own products.
One evening we were coming back after our Arabic/English training when a man with a red T-shirt with a company logo on it, holding a machine box, was coming opposite us. He said loudly with a smile, "I found my job already." Since many of our people were waiting for new jobs, we had to think for a moment who he was and where we had met him. It was a little dark at 6:30 in the evening.
"You may not recognize me now," he said. "I am the same man who was selling cigarettes near your church and Pastor George told me to pray and to get a job and stop selling cigarettes. I did that, and I got a job and stopped selling cigarettes. I got a job as a mechanic with a British company and I am happy now. Thank you for the good advice."
He was right. He appeared different, more professional and happier. Earlier when we were coming back after a church service, we had talked with him. He had a mat spread on the side of the road with 10 cigarettes, a few matchboxes, a few soap bars, and 2 small tissue boxes. We said, "Hello," and stopped by, and he was happy to talk to us. We told him that he had a few useful items, but the cigarettes were dangerous. We explained how badly it can impact the young people passing through on a Sunday afternoon!
"You are right, but I am trying to make some money through the cigarettes."
Jacob explained to him that he could get a job easily since he speaks English, and he got a smile! "Pray to Jesus and He can give to you" was the summary of the talk, though there were a few more minutes of conversation in the hot sun. It brought a good result; praise God for His mighty acts.
Another day when we were walking through the street, a man in a suit came out of an aluminum-fenced gate and joined us. We found out from our conversation that he is the director of the orphanage that is inside the fence. They had 200 children from 5 to 17 years of age, but now the number is down to 48. The children were brought there during the war because they were detached from their families, and slowly many of them could be reunited with their families through social workers. If a family cannot handle them due to their dysfunctional status, the children remain in the center until they are 17, and then leave by their 18th birthday. The idea is to make them self-sufficient but this is not always possible.
We asked him whether we could refer some children to him who are in the market all day, begging and sometimes fighting. Mr. D explained that they belong to families although they appear homeless. Some of them belong to single or unwed mothers and they are collecting some things or money to take to their mothers in the evening. This orphanage is not for such people. Mr. D then received a phone call and went in a different direction, but before leaving he said he had listened to Jacob's sermon when we went to the Nuer Presbyterian congregation, and we will meet again at the orphanage or church.
There is a little boy who is around 9 years old who had been following us in the market whenever he saw us. We have helped him a few times with sandwiches and in the beginning he was not talking but only used signs. We tried to tell him, by signs, about bath/washing his clothes, etc. Though he used to be in a group of four boys, now he is able to move around alone. Recently he has been clean and can say his name and a few words with a smile and has more self-esteem in front of his friends, though he has a small deformity of the fingers of his left hand. We feel that talking with him is a success through the Lord.
On one Monday afternoon when we were waiting for the bus, there was a young man sitting under a tree on a plastic chair that he had brought from home. He could communicate well in English, as he had attended evening adult education classes. We discussed a few things and then he said he was sitting there because he had no job and cannot find one. Just then a truck passed by with a lot of men standing in the truck in blue uniforms—they were new city workers hired to collect trash from the main streets of the city. Aliamma pointed to the truck and told the man to try for a job with that department. There were job openings because the trash collection was started recently. He opened both his hands and said, "My hands will become dirty and I do not like that."
Then Jacob told his story of cleaning the school, including the bath/toilet rooms, in the evenings when he was taking his degree. He told the man to take any job and become self-sufficient before he is overloaded with family responsibilities. He agreed and got up from his seat. A few minutes later, as we moved toward the road because the bus was approaching, we saw him near us. Aliamma asked, "Are you going to look for a job now?" He smiled and said, "Yes." We encouraged him to go prayerfully. He said that he would meet us in the Arabic/English congregation. We hope he got a job.
We thought of teaching English songs to children of different tribal groups together but have found that at this time they like it separately. So first we taught the children of the Nuer congregation on three Saturday evenings, and they sang beautifully during the worship service (about 100 kids singing in front of 1,700 people in the church). The mothers and grandmothers screamed and shouted, "Hallelujah!" and others clapped as they heard the new language of South Sudan.
The following Sunday the Dinka congregation of about 600 people heard about 80 kids singing the English song, "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know" and were very happy. We will start with the next congregation, and one day we hope the kids will forget their differences of tribes and total unity will prevail. Now we have Nuer, Dinka, Murle, Shilluk, Arabic/English, and Ethiopian (Amharic) churches in the same Presbyterian compound.
We had an evangelists meeting with 15 of the interested evangelists. They decided to start street/home evangelism after the rainy season. Also home visits will be done for Community Health Evangelism.
Thank you for your prayers and support for our ministry in South Sudan.
God bless you.
Jacob and Aliamma George
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 54