South Sudan stands on the brink of a food crisis, the worse we’ve experienced in years. Tonj has been severely effected due to prolonged armed conflicts between tribes, causing mass displacement from surrounding villages. Thousands of people are at risk of starvation as a consequence of fleeing their homes and not having enough food to eat. The lack of an adequate response from AID agencies has meant many people have not eaten in over a month, some as long as 2 months. Assessments have been made but no food has arrived. Maybe due to continued insecurity on the roads or maybe due to poor roads conditions from our heavy rainy season.
What I do know is that every day we are witnessing more and more people with signs of acute malnutrition. The devastating effects on a woman during pregnancy puts her baby in danger of miscarriage, still-born or low birth weight. She herself is at increased risk of death during delivery, anemia and lack of breast milk production. Her weakened state and loss of body mass compromises her immune system and increases her probability of serious infections. Often mothers will do anything to get small food for their children and they will give the food to the children before eating themselves. Other vulnerable groups include the disabled, elderly, HIV and children under five, who suffer lifelong effects resulting in stunted growth and depressed immune systems.
In 1998, I sat in church in Southern California and watched a video about a famine in South Sudan. People were so weak from not eating for FOUR months they were walking on their hands and knees, unable to stand up. I remember thinking what could I possibly do that would make any difference to this situation? As I asked God that question, I received a very clear answer from Him, He said YOU CAN PRAY.
Corrie Ten Boom said it best, “The wonderful thing about praying is that you leave a world of not being able to do something, and enter God’s realm where everything is possible. He specializes in the impossible. Nothing is too great for His almighty power. Nothing is too small for His love.”
That’s exactly what I did, I prayed and that led to a prayer walk, which led to a fundraiser and ultimately led me to go to South Sudan on a mission trip, where I met Sabet and have served as a missionary for the past 21 years. Prayer changes things and even though we are limited in what we can do to help, we serve a powerful God whose means are limitless! It is unfathomable to think that in 2020 we have so much food in the world and yet people still live in extreme poverty and go to bed hungry. It was shockingly wrong back then and it’s shockingly wrong today. Jesus always showed compassion for the poor, if I want to be like Jesus then I need to show compassion also. This ministry was birthed out of this truth that John talks about in the bible:
“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18
Last month I asked for your help, by faith, our ministry stepped out and started to buy sacks of food for people. I asked you to get involved and YOU DID! Thank you!!! We were so blessed by everyone’s response to do something. And God’s love for the people here has really shone through that gift. Not only did we feed them physically but also spiritually.
As these people are displaced due to conflict, we shared about the conflict going on in man’s heart every day. As they faced death in the past few weeks, we talked about not knowing when our last day would be and being ready to meet Jesus. We talked about their story and how God led them to this place and how we all have a story that leads us to the cross. We talked about sin and how things will never change if we don’t have a change of heart. When it was time to pray, the Holy Spirit was really moving and so many prayed with us. Over half the crowd of 2,000 people raised their hands to confess their sin and need for a Savior. So many were talking about it afterwards and were encouraged.