Starting in September with the foundation, we were able to build our church ready for Easter Sunday!
This might not sound like a big deal but every brick had to be made on site and all other materials were trucked in from Juba.
We used interlocking bricks to help reduce the cost of using a lot of cement. By March the walls were constructed and the roof trusses were ready.
We had less than a month to get the roof on, add the windows and doors, plaster the interior and pour the flooring. Our dedicated team worked day and night literally to make sure we could have Easter service in the new church and by God’s grace we did it!!
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
On Good Friday, the congregation of CC Tonj met at the IDAT compound and marched two miles through the town to the church land.
We then circled the church and laid hands on the walls as our Senior Pastor, Mabior Bona Bol, prayed and dedicated the church to the Lord for His glory and service.
On Easter Sunday it felt like the entire town had come out for our celebration and first service.
Many of our church plants surrounding Tonj were visiting and celebrating with us that day, so we slaughtered several cows and goats and shared a meal together. After the food and fellowship we headed to the river for a multi-church baptism.
This was our largest baptism to date with 650 people registering and getting baptized from CC Tonj and several CC Church plants.
Since we moved our church from our compound to the new land in 2020, which is a residential area, the church has tripled in size! This created a dilemma and delay as we reassessed the size and budget to build. We still have many things that aren’t quite finished but we rejoice that we are in a dry and sturdy building as we enter this rainy season. Pray we can eventually build overflow verandah’s, offices, Sunday school rooms, restrooms, water and solar power. The vision is that CC Tonj would eventually be able to operate and stand independently. from In Deed and Truth Ministries as a healthy, vibrant, God-fearing church that preaches the Word of God verse by verse!
Last year we announced our desire to train a Medical Doctor to run the IDAT Hospital and lead the medical team as the Medical Director. We rejoice that the Lord heard our cry and Gabriel Gojoh has been in medical school for the past 8 months. Our ministry has invested in our own medical staff over the last 9 years so they can fill the primary roles needed in our hospital. Gabriel started with IDAT in 2010 as a Community Health Worker and was trained on the job. He loves helping people and we chose him to receive a scholarship back in 2013, where he studied Clinical Medicine and graduated top of his class as a Clinical Officer in 2016. It has been a joy to watch him grow spiritually and take on leadership roles and responsibilities. As the hospital grows. so does the need to raise up the next generation of medical professionals to continue to walk out the vision the LORD has given us.
This is a huge seven-year commitment for Gabriel, who is away from his family, living in a foreign land and not earning an income that has previously helped his younger siblings go to school. Would you remember Gabriel in prayer, write him in your prayer journal and share his story with your prayer groups. Gabriel said, “he is grateful to God for this opportunity and is doing well.”
The Fruit is Sweet
All over Tonj you will find 40 year old mango trees. They’re huge and during the months of March and April there is plenty of fruit to enjoy. The IDAT compound has 4 large trees, two of which are not publicly accessible. Sure enough the mangoes on the other trees are stripped quickly, while they are still green. On the other two trees though, we let the mangoes ripen until they are yellow, juicy and sweet. It’s definitely worth the wait!!
In today’s culture of instant everything, we have a hard time waiting for the fruit in our life, families, ministries, to ripen. The book of Galatians in the New Testament of the bible, the Apostle Paul encourages us to “not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” This verse has become a theme for IDAT in 2022. It has taken years of hard work, sacrifice, planting seeds, watering those seeds and waiting for the harvest. Now in 2022 we are enjoying the spiritual fruit and like the mangoes, it was worth the wait. Our CHE program continues to expand, in the first quarter of this year we added more centers making a total of 38 and we hope to add another 19 by December. Our hospital faithfully serves 50,000 pregnant mothers and infants each year. We have multiplied ourselves with 35 pastors now on the team and being trained for effective service. We now have 29 church plants and it continues to grow!! If you’re going through a tough season don’t be discouraged, in God’s perfect timing it will be worth the wait!
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!” Psalm 34:8-9
Suzy and Jed’s Easter Trip
What a joy to be back with the team in Tonj. And what a journey to get there. First flight was cancelled forcing a 5-hour drive. COVID test came back late forcing another change to rebook everything by 24 hours. One night sleeping on the airport floor! Finally got the negative test only to be told it was past the date allowed for the arrival. Managed to persuade them to board us and then the uncertainty of the next 4 flights and wondering if they would refuse us at any point! In the middle of the chaos the Lord reminded me, He is in control, TRUST ME, He said. Relax, and let me be God!! So grateful for the peace that came over us and thankful we made it along with the oxygen concentrator, CPAP, oximeter, medical uniforms, baby blankets and student tablets we were carrying! Sitting on the cold, hard airport floor in Atlanta I thought about the hundreds of refugees I’ve worked with over the past 20 years and how horrific their journeys were to get to safety. I passed the time praying for the millions of Ukrainians whose lives took an unexpected turn and are now facing their own journey of uncertainty. Suddenly, my ‘travel’ crisis just didn’t feel like a crisis anymore!
This trip is for the purpose of dedicating the new main church plant, CC Tonj on Easter Sunday and to welcome two missionaries with Intensive Care Ministries who are coming specifically to train our pastors. Battlefield, warfare, obstacles, YES!! “For the battle is not ours, but God’s.”
Through IDAT’S Community Health Evangelism, individuals become followers of Jesus and communities are released from poverty through tangible solutions that change the course of their lives. We have taught CHE for over ten years at In Deed and Truth in Tonj, and I have witnessed first hand that it is one of the most powerful teaching methods for sharing the love of Christ in life transforming ways in communities fraught with poverty and disease. We can’t change ourselves. But the Holy Spirit can transform our hearts and our lives. It’s what gives us hope.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
A recent story of how CHE has truly changed lives would be this incredible testimony from the field.
Marko Biith & Albino Ater were known in their community as fighters. Wherever conflict was occurring, they would go and capitalize on the fighting by stealing people’s cows. One day they were passing by a CHE training in the village of Parasika and heard Pastor Rueben sharing the gospel. They were convicted by the Holy Spirit to leave their stealing and become followers of Jesus. Last month Marko was visiting his sister when he heard fighting coming from a nearby house. He ran over and found a man severely beating his wife, so he leapt in front of the woman to protect her. Marko then talked with the man about caring for his wife, and the man repented and reconciled with his wife. Through the transformative power of Jesus Christ, Marko and Albino have gone from being cattle raiders to community peacemakers!
When William Deng was selected by his community to be a CHE committee member he had no understanding of God’s love for him. He regularly joined the local witchdoctor in offering animal sacrifices and worshiping idols.
In May he was arrested after being falsely accused of shooting someone. He was grateful when the guards in prison gave him VIP treatment because he was wearing a CHE shirt. The guard was grateful that some CHE volunteers had recently come and helped clean the prison as an act of community service! While in prison William had an encounter with God, which radically transformed him. After he was found to be innocent and released from prison, he went home and burnt all his idols, and has since joined Calvary Chapel Tonj. Two weeks ago he was appointed chief of his community, and when our CHE leaders visited he was giving all the glory to God!
What makes CHE unique is the community select their own CHE’s, who mostly do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. We train them and they teach Christ-centered community development. Through the spiritual lessons they hear and pass to others, their own lives are challenged and changed. As a community starts to put into practice the lessons from ‘CHE’ they also start to learn about God, His love for them and His plan versus satan’s plan for them. Since starting CHE on 2012 we have 29 active CHE centers and another 9 training their committees. New believers are joining the churches and from these CHE centers we have planted 21 churches. It has been a beautiful, natural progression born from the hunger and desire for righteousness within the community. So many people turning away from trusting in witchcraft and false gods and putting their trust in Jesus.
When an entire community is affected by CHE and lives are being transformed, the witness to other villages is phenomenal, creating a ripple effect and chiefs are now coming and begging us for CHE in their village. That’s because CHE releases people from a cycle of physical poverty and a life of spiritual poverty too.
Due to CHE programs, many households now have dish drying racks, cooking stoves, rubbish pits and vegetable gardens.
*Please pray for Suzy and Jed who fly to Africa on April 2nd.