All posts by Alex Smith

May 2020 Newsletter


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.

KUJ kids and IDAT staff kids playing UNO as a distraction from the tribal fighting

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.

Pastors Mabior, Joseph and Ruben, wear masks during Coronavirus awareness and home visitation to church families

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.

Our doctors and medical staff continue to work around the clock seeing patients

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.

IDAT team wearing their face masks

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!

April 2020 Newsletter

Benevolence Fund!

The definition of “Benevolence” is the quality of being kind. Our ‘benevolence fund’ was set up several years ago as a way for our ministry and donors to show specific acts of kindness, generosity and compassion to those we serve whose special needs are outside our normal areas of care.

We love having this fund as it gives us the freedom to promptly respond to needs and exercise God’s amazing love for people in the process.  We like to keep a balance in the fund as we never know what the Lord will bring before us.

In 2020 alone, we have used this benevolence fund for several cases.

Mid-February we helped a family rebuild their tukuls (mud huts) after a devastating fire burnt three huts down. Thankfully no one was hurt but they lost the very little they had including food. The owner is a Christian man called Isaac who cares for orphaned children as well as his own family.

Orphans left with nothing after the fire
IDAT used benevolence funds to rebuild tukuls

At the beginning of March we had a mother bring her 8 month old baby to the clinic. Marial showed signs of hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and we knew right away the child needed a surgery not available in South Sudan.

Marial before the surgery
Smiling Marial after surgery in Uganda

Thankfully, because of generous partners like you, we had enough benevolence funds to assist them getting to Uganda and paid for the child to have this life saving surgery. Marial has returned to Tonj and is doing really well. The mother was giving praise to God and claimed Jesus as her Savior, promising to raise Marial as a Christian.

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8

Overcoming Fear!

Like many of you we are facing difficult times and left wondering what is going on in the world right now? Tonj just went through horrendous tribal fights with many lives lost.

A herd of cattle laying dead on top of a dirt field

Cows are equivalent to wealth and used for trading and dowry’s. An important part of the Dinka economy and culture. This was a recent cattle camp raid that left even children shot.

It got so bad we had to close our clinic to protect our staff and even now, people are using the IDAT compound as a refuge. Many IDAT families were sheltering with us to protect their children.A group of people riding on the back of a truck.

Now with COVID-19, what is the Lord saying to us during this time of fear, worry and anxiety? What we have shared through CHE in Tonj and with you now is, GOD is Sovereign, HE remains in control, HE is bigger than Covid-19 or cattle raiders, we can trust HIM, HE promises to never leave us or forsake us, HE is always with us, our days are numbered by HIM only and our security is found in HIM alone. AMEN!!

March 2020 Newsletter

Christ Centered Care!

CHE – Community Health Evangelism is a Christ-centered proven strategy that IDAT uses to equip communities to identify issues and mobilize resources to achieve positive and sustainable change. Lives and communities are transformed as people come to Christ and work together to address local needs.

Mobilizing the Community in Palek village for CHE

We now have CHE centers in seven villages. CHE seamlessly integrates evangelism and discipleship with community health and development. Through CHE, individuals become followers of Jesus and communities are lifted out of cycles of poverty and disease.

CHE’s working together on a community project in Kunyuk village

Our CHE center in Kunyuk village made an impressive 800 home visits in 6 weeks which included education on pneumonia, a major health issue during the current dry season.

Pastor Ruben is a CHE leader and started a primary school in his village

Poverty is also alleviated, but our purpose is much deeper. Our purpose is a transformation in the lives of these communities that is deep in the heart, where Jesus is recognized as Lord over all creation. Our development activities bring glory to God by reflecting His Kingdom plan.

CHW with children treated in Warrak PHCU

Under Pastor Ruben’s CHE leadership the village of Warrak now has it’s first school and a small PHCU (primary health care unit). The community came together to build the clinic out of mud and grass. We are currently training two Community Health Workers (CHW) to distribute basic drugs, according to WHO that can treat the 10 most common complaints, and this will alleviate death from treatable illnesses that
can become fatal if the patient delays treatment. Warrak, and Bobi where the other clinic will be, are both far from our clinic, so to carry a sick child for miles is not always easy. Many people revert to witchcraft or wait until the child is convulsing. Then it is sometimes too late to help. We’re so encouraged to see this community coming together to solve their own issues and improve their quality of life.

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Ps. 133:1

CHE seamlessly integrates discipleship and church planting with disease prevention and community-based development. IDAT has church plants in all the CHE villages pastored by IDAT pastors who also serve as CHE’s.  Palek and Ariamduar have church plants because of CHE in Maloney. CHE promotes villages reaching villages for Christ!!

CHE naturally expands as people see improvement and peace

February 2020 Newsletter

Pastor Sponsorship and Training!

This month we want to highlight a critical area of need in our ministry. In the past 10 years we have gone from one church plant in Tonj to seven additional church plants. These have mostly happened naturally as a result of our thriving CHE program and are planted in CHE villages.

In 2019 we ended the year with three additional churches. It is so exciting to see these villages desire a church and hunger after God’s Word.  The men chosen to pastor these churches were not part of our original sponsorship program and are currently in need of support.

We’d like to introduce them to you this month. What a privilege and joy to interview Ps. Augustino from the village of Ariamduar. He attended our church in Maloney for three years before asking Ps. Santino if he can start a church in his village. His village, like most villages in South Sudan, is deeply involved in witchcraft and most people have their family superstitions and false gods that they worship and fear. The opposition he faced to start a church was great and he had curses placed on him and threats made against his life. Relatives even beat him when he refused to attend rituals and sacrificial offerings to the false gods. He started in April 2019 with just his wife and children. Then a few friends and neighbors joined in. By the end of 2019 he had about 120 people attending every Sunday. Last summer we baptized over 50 people from Ariamduar.

As well as senior pastor he also serves with our CHE program in Ariamduar, which we chose as a new CHE village after we heard his amazing testimony. Ariamduar is about 5 miles from Maloney (30 miles from Tonj) and takes about 1 ½ hours by car to reach. Ps. Augustino is married with 4 children and
attends a monthly training workshop and prayer meeting at the IDAT compound. It takes him 3-4 hours to cycle to Tonj and we were thrilled to gift him with a new bicycle.

Ps. James and Ps. Augustino

Ps. Augustino used to attend the CC Maloney church with his relative and friend James (one of the ones who didn’t beat him). James is single and from a village called Palek, 5 miles from Ariamduar. He saw the believers in Maloney had a true faith and changed lives and wanted that for his village also. After the Ariamduar church started last April and seeing how well it grew he started praying about panting a church in his village. In September 2019, Ps. James planted CC Palek with the help of Ps. Santino and Augustino. He is not married, and his family were opposed but he persevered and now has about 60 people every week attending.

I will give you shepherds according to my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
Jeremiah 3:15

Pastoral Training!

In 2012, you may remember, we graduated 13 pastors from a 3 ½ year pastoral training. Four of those pastors are still serving with IDAT, one is serving with another ministry and the others are back in their villages, all over Tonj state, pastoring their own churches.

While we can’t commit to such an intensive teaching at the moment, we do recognize the need for our pastors to receive regular tuition through workshops. We really want help with this need. So many of you came out for one or two weeks when we were training our pastors in 2012 and we’d like to invite you to prayerfully consider this again, if you have a gift of teaching and bible knowledge. You do not need to be a pastor to get involved.

Illiteracy makes reading and understanding the bible difficult

Maybe you are a church that could send a team that could serve in this area while others serve on outreaches and in the clinic. Please prayerfully consider how God might be able to use you to help equip and expand this program. If you can’t come maybe you could donate a special gift to help fund the workshops or take on a long-term commitment to sponsor and/or pray for a pastor. All these are critically needed.

Email us at for more information on any of these areas.

January 2020 Newsletter

Hopeful New Year!

 2019 was a difficult year for our ministry and the IDAT/KUJ family. There are no words to describe the anguish we feel as a body and the suffering Suzy and the kids have personally gone through. The response to love them and Sabet through this and stand with them and the ministry they have poured their lives into has really touched all our hearts and we thank you for your continued prayers for them and this amazing ministry.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

Wall with words scatted about describing prays for the year 2020.
IDAT Prayer Wall

Review and Vision!

Our ministry is serving in four areas to the community and all are integrated and complement each other. As a team we have prayed and fasted for 2020 and the future direction of IDAT. Here’s a glimpse of 2019 and what we are praying for in 2020.

CC Tonj

The church and Sunday school have grown and we are currently seeing 500 regular attendees each week. Our greatest need is for a project manager to build us a permanent church building. Materials are on site.
Senior Pastor Mabior oversees CC Tonj and 7 church plants in the villages of Maloney, Ariam Duar (new), Palek (new), Bobi, Lul (new), Warrak, and Kunyuk. He has a team of 13 pastors serving alongside him.

Seven elders posed in front of grass roof building in local village of Lui
Elders in front of New church plant in Lul

Training of our new pastors is critically needed. Join us in praying for teachers to help lead pastors’ workshops.

IDAT Medical Clinic

The quality of the care we are able to provide has significantly improved since receiving back three more Clinical Officers from medical school in Kenya. Also, the installation of our new solar power system means we can run life-saving equipment not available elsewhere.
Newborn baby being held against mother chest while receiving oxygen.
This year we hope to build an x-ray facility and provide this as a service to all the community not just mothers and children. We are excited to have Zac and Rebecca Soper rejoin our team for a 2-year term. As a nurse, Rebecca will supervise the ward and training of new Community Health Workers.

Community Health Evangelism (CHE)

In 2019 we launched CHE in 4 new villages and this year we hope to expand that to at least 3 more. All of these villages have church plants. It is exciting to see the Word of God going into these remote places as our CHE’s evangelize door to door and come alongside the people in helping them solve their issues, pointing them to sustainable solutions and the cross of Jesus Christ.
CHE Team members and villages sitting on ground having a conversation.
We are excited to have Zac Soper join our team and help Jono and Ps. Mabior oversee this life changing ministry.

Sports Ministry

A fairly new but very successful area of ministry for us has been to run the annual soccer tournament. 2019 was a massive success and our pastors were able to share the gospel with over 10,000 spectators and through local radio.