A letter from Jacob and Aliamma George in South Sudan
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 "Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
We started our new semester at the Giffen Institute of Theology. Jacob is teaching Pastoral Epistles and Aliamma is teaching Christian Counseling. Jacob is also teaching a course on Preaching at Nile Theological College this semester. We have 40 students now and some of them brought some sad incidents from their villages that happened during the holidays.
Mr. M had many plans in his mind to revive his church members during the holidays with the new knowledge he received at Giffen, but he told about an unfortunate situation in his hometown. The bad guys killed four of his relatives. His pastor from his village church escaped death miraculously. Last year they had killed his brother during the tribal fights. When Mr. M narrated the incidents in the class as a testimony as to how his life was spared, everyone was sad. We concluded the class with comforting words from the Bible and with prayer. Mr. M and his wife, who are our students, met Aliamma outside the classroom and had a long conversation after the class, and they thanked the PC(USA) for sending us here. When Aliamma inquired about their daughters, who are 4 and 2 years old, the father mentioned that a 7-year-old girl who is a relative is taking care of their children while they are attending the classes at the Bible school. The couple has rented a very small house near the school and according to them it is safe to leave the children with the 7-year-old relative. When Aliamma discussed the importance of safety measures, the parents were surprised and thanked her for mentioning some of the possible issues that can occur. As Mr. M was a soldier a few years ago he is familiar about using a “password” when enemies come across. He said, "If the enemy did not know our password, I used to shoot, but I did not know that we could use a password between family members or neighbors for safety."
The couple has a great dream of completing the studies at Giffen, where we teach, and enriching their village church with songs, stories, and lessons they learn here.
We hear about tribal fighting going on in different villages and the families displaced. And the availability of food is scarce again as the border is closed. We are told that there are soldiers at the borders from both sides. The phone communication is very poor. Everyone here maintains phones with a prepaid card system but are unable to carry out conversations as the phone cuts off within a few seconds. The Internet is very difficult to get sometimes even when the electricity is available. The prices for everything have gone up three times from last year.
Now, on a positive note, the road construction has started—though the wind is spreading the dust in large amounts into eyes and noses, causing respiratory problems and eye infections. The water shortage continues and therefore some people do not get a chance to bathe or wash clothes.
The former cigarette seller near the church who became a mechanic lost his job, and when we met him in the street again he asked us to get him a New International Version of the Bible since he wants to read it. We got him one and encouraged him to start a stable job and told him to stay at that job, working harder. He smiled and agreed to it. There are many young people looking for jobs, but since there are no factories or companies or many institutions, it is hard to find jobs, and most of them are looking for government jobs, which are difficult to attain.
Mr. N, who is 24 years old, came to us and told his story. He graduated from high school in Ethiopia last year as his family had gone there as refugees many years ago. Last July he came to South Sudan to celebrate freedom and to find a job here. One year has passed and he has no job yet. His parents and siblings are in Ethiopia and he says he has no money to buy a ticket to go back. Then he mentioned that he has no money to make a copy of his certificate to apply for a job. We gave him three pounds so he could to go soon and make three copies to apply for the job. Three hours later, when we were returning after teaching our classes, Mr. N was still sitting at the nearby coffee shop with five other people, talking and laughing. We are trying to instill a hardworking nature in our young people here.
We help in the worship services of the Presbyterian Church of Sudan here as much as possible, as time allows, and it is a blessing to see the growth of the church here. The worship services are very lively, energetic, and encouraging to the participants and leaders.
Please pray for us as we face daily challenges here. The bat problem in our apartment was a huge one, so now we are staying in a guesthouse temporarily until this is taken care of. Thank you for your prayers and financial support, which keeps us moving with faith and confidence. God bless you.
Jacob and Aliamma George