This last month has been one of the hardest in the past 20 years of serving here. The tribal fighting erupted day and night causing us to stay on the compound for 2 months. Coupled with Covid-19 lockdown it has been challenging on every level. No church, no prayer meetings, and unlike other countries, we don’t have the ability to connect as a church via the internet. With all our missionaries on home assignment, we’ve had a very empty compound, so we used the IDAT compound as a refuge for our staff that needed a place of safety from the tribal conflicts. Every challenge is an opportunity to share God’s love, and it turned out to be fun for the KUJ kids to have fellowship with other children sleeping on the compound.
Preparing for Covid-19!
So, one of our biggest challenges has been how to effectively prepare for COVID-19 as a ministry, staff and family. The President and Vice-President both tested positive, and now there is an element of fear in South Sudan but despite this, without visible signs of sickness, most people have not changed the way they go about their daily tasks. Without adequate testing and ability to socially distance from others, the actual number of infected people is certainly higher than being reported.
Around the world we are all facing uncertainty with this pandemic. You have experienced the impact in your own country and watched their struggles, just imagine what this is doing here in Africa and poorer countries like South Sudan, where we simply are not equipped medically to handle this kind of crisis.
Before there were any reported cases in South Sudan, IDAT through our CHE program and pastor visitations, began Coronavirus awareness to help reduce it’s transmission. In Tonj, families live hand-to-mouth, and the simple task of hand washing with soap becomes difficult when no one has access to running water and they live in overcrowded spaces with many people sleeping in one tukul.
As a ministry, IDAT is concerned. We are heading into our heavy malaria season and this will contribute to the effects and fatalities from COVID-19. We lack adequate quantities of protective equipment in our clinic. We already struggle with large patient numbers and long hours during the rainy season and adding to this is very daunting to our medical staff.
But we will do our best to serve those in need as we do in any crisis. We will give what we have, like loaves and fishes, and ask God to strengthen us and multiply to meet every individual need. If our clinic can survive this, it can survive anything.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9
IDAT employs over 80 staff and our greatest concern is how to stay in operation and serve the community that needs us more than ever. The government said NO CHURCH, so our 15 pastors have been visiting church members in their homes and encouraging them to have house churches with their immediate neighbors. We have distributed solar powered audio bibles to help small group bible study. We got out our sewing machines and made face masks for our team. Just wearing the mask in the community raises awareness.
With all the recent tribal unrest we had to increase security on the compound. Thankfully, troops arrived from Juba and since then there has not been any more attacks in Tonj.
Our container from USA arrived in Kenya a month ago and because of lockdown it still has not arrived in Tonj. The rains have started and the roads deteriorate more every day. There’s nothing we can do except PRAY! Pray for favor at the borders and safety and travel mercies. We sent someone from Tonj by road, to the Uganda border to meet the truck and travel back with it. He said the roads were still OK at the moment!
We ask you to stand with us in praying for the continent of Africa, for IDAT, for our clinic, our pastors, and continue in your support so we can also continue in our assistance to those most in need. Stay safe!