All posts by Alex Smith

November 2020 Newsletter

Sopers in South Sudan!

Zac and Rebekah Soper are both nurses and served in the IDAT medical clinic for 5 months back in 2018. This was enough to stir their hearts and since going back to New Zealand they have been planning to rejoin our team as long-term missionaries. Delayed by Covid-19, they finally arrived for their first 2-year term in October. Please pray for their adjustment, health and safety.

Rebekah feeding a malnourished baby

Stephen also came back after being stuck in Kenya. He heads up our construction crew. Now he’s back we will start building our x-ray room, clinic laundry room and planning for the church building.

Stephen returns from Kenya

Now the team are back together, Suzy and the kids will head to Florida in December. Please pray for them as they navigate getting out of Juba, Covid testing, and all the travel restrictions that keep changing between countries. They are still in need of a vehicle to use stateside. If you can help with this need please contact the email below.

Reaching the Next Generation of Leaders Through Soccer!

The IDAT soccer tournament continues to bring hope, unity and the gospel to the youth of Tonj.

The IDAT Soccer Tournament draws large crowds of spectators to every game

Between matches our team of leaders and pastors are sharing updates and Christ to the community through radio.

IDAT Leaders Sharing on Don Bosco Radio

The IDAT ministry team attend every game and use the “What’s the Goal?” tract to share the gospel and pray with spectators.

Spectators reading their tracts.

Cover of the evangelistic track reading "What's the goal?"

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” Proverbs 11:25

Testimony in the Villages!

We have three church plants, Ariamduar, Pawel & Palek, in Maloney region, which is about an hour drive from Tonj. The Maloney chief had been opposing our churches, protesting that the teaching went against their traditional beliefs of sacrifice to their gods. Several of our church pastors and leaders were arrested and church, as well as CHE, was forbidden. This was 10 years of ministry stopped by one man. Many husbands were also forbidding their wives to go to church because they refused to make alcohol and slaughter or cook animals sacrificed to the spirits. IDAT leaders and community elders were called to Maloney to try and resolve the issue.

IDAT’s Andrea Mangok Sharing with Elders

Pastor Muordek shared how God met Saul and transformed him into Paul, gave him a new heart and used him in a mighty way. The Holy Spirit was moving and touched that chief’s heart and softened the hearts of the village leaders. The chief repented, apologized and prayed with our team and gave full freedom to continue with church and CHE. Those arrested rejoiced at the opportunity to suffer for Jesus, and that this period of persecution greatly strengthened the Maloney churches!! Please continue to pray for that chief and for all our CHE villages and church plants.

October 2020 Newsletter

Macleods Back on Mission!

It has been a blessing to have our missionaries come back from New Zealand. Our hearts were weary and Jono, Destinee, Zoe, Ellisha and Shiloh brought a much-needed spirit of joy, excitement and energy to our team after a tough ten months.

The Macleods Family

  • Pray for their readjustment especially the kids’ hearts having been in New Zealand longer than planned, that they could get back into their routines and reconnect easily here.
  • Pray for their homeschool needs (if you know any young woman that might like to serve the Macleods in this way as a homeschool teacher for one year please email me).
  • Pray for their safety, we have had a lot of tribal unrest in the villages.
  • Pray for their health, protection from malaria, coronavirus, scorpions, snakes and now rabies is rampant.
  • Pray the Lord would use them to encourage, teach, and bless this community and make them effective witnesses of the Gospel.
  • Pray all their financial needs would be met as they as they enter their 7th year serving with IDAT.

“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

Pray for the Sports Outreach!

We are so excited to launch our 2020 IDAT Soccer Tournament this month. It is bigger and better than ever before. We have 16 soccer teams, 8 volleyball and basketball teams. Thank you for generously giving so we could provide the teams with new kits and soccer boots.

Kits printed and shipped from China

This tournament provides an outlet to the youth of Tonj and gives us a platform to reach them with the gospel.

Suzy prays as teams are given their kits

Our clinical officer Gabriel Gojoh will play in the tournament. He helped Suzy with ordering the kits that proudly display the IDAT logo and every clubs badge!

Suzy with IDAT CO Gabriel Gojoh

Church Resumes!

In the seven months we were not able to meet we worked on the new church land, constructing the fence and installing a gate to prepare for the ‘big move’ of CC Tonj. Little did we know this is where we would be doing food distributions. We don’t have an actual building, but we are using a tent and tarp to provide shelter from rain and sun.

CC Tonj meeting in tents on the new site

When the government lifted the restrictions on churches being able to meet, we had an amazing response.

Many newcomers attend church

We also saw people coming forward to receive Christ as our church elders laid hands on them.

Praying for Mabiel and Santino

September 2020 Newsletter

Glory to His Name!

Please pray for Paul and his family. He was a witchdoctor that practiced traditional medicine on people. He lives next to our new church land, where we have been doing the food distribution.

Paul with his wife and children

He would sell people charms to wear and large idols for their homes to protect them from evil spirits. Last month he saw lots of people coming to our land and wanted to see what was going on. He’d lost several family members and constantly lived in fear. He heard Suzy talk about Jesus being the Bread of Life and inviting people to repent and he raised his hand. Pastor Mabior met with him one to one and assured him of salvation through Jesus Christ. Paul said he didn’t have any peace and didn’t want to be a witchdoctor anymore and he agreed to burn all his idols and charms.

Pastors Mabior and Mayom burning the idols

The following Sunday he came to church and our pastors agreed to burn the charms and pray over his family. His wife and children also prayed and received Christ. It’s so awesome to see how the Lord used the food distribution to reach those that didn’t even need food!!

Praying With Paul’s Family

Praising Partners!

The entire country of South Sudan is facing a food crisis. Our area of Tonj has gone from a phase 3 ‘critical’ level to a phase 4 ‘emergency’ level. We are one step away from phase 5, which is famine.

This family is surviving by eating wild leaves

We have witnessed an incredible response from you, our partners. Together we have bought 54 tons of food and fed over 4,300 families!!

Food Distribution Outreach

Samaritan’s Purse also responded to our plea for help and sent us 500 plastic tarps, ropes and mosquito nets.

Tarps donated by Samaritan’s Purse

Sadly, we have not seen any food from World Food Program so we ask you to pray for Tonj and for South Sudan. The bible says, don’t be anxious about what you shall eat? Everywhere we go people are worried, the situation is so desperate we are anticipating more unrest as those fears turn to a fight for survival.

This is how many families are surviving

Our prayer is that God’s Love would be felt, the truth of His Word would be heard, His compassion would be poured out, His forgiveness experienced, His Presence would be known. Praying people’s hearts turn towards Jesus, seeking FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, witnessing God transforming lives like Paul and his family. So many have already responded to Jesus and given Him their hearts. Our pastors are working tirelessly, encouraging new believers to put their trust in God. Not to look around at their circumstances but to look up and see Jesus, who will never leave them or forsake them. We ask that you to continue to pray for a miracle for food reaching us and that God would also use this difficult situation to bring Glory to His name.

August 2020 Newsletter

Food Crisis!

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.

Pregnant Women are the Most Vulnerable

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.

Disabled People are also at risk

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.

A Positive Response to the Gospel Message

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.

July 2020 Newsletter

Container Arrived!

A BIG thank you for praying for our container to arrive safely. It was delayed 10 weeks due to COVID-19 restrictions, cost a bit extra to clear the port and passed through numerous muddy roads and insecure areas. It finally made it with much needed food and other supplies for the clinic, CHE, church and missionaries. Every year we ship a container from USA and last October many of you contributed to our list of supplies. We will definitely try to do this annually and have a fall fundraiser to help offset the high cost that comes all at one time. Living in a remote place that doesn’t even have basic shops for supplies, this container is essential to our ministry being able to operate successfully.

Unpacking the Container in Tonj

To everyone who purchased items from our amazon Wishlist or gave a contribution to the container fund, thank you, thank you for your generous contributions to make this happen! There were many needed items on the container but one of the main things was paint.  We were able to repaint the clinic and ward!! Also, we received office furniture and desktop computers, so we can set up proper workspaces for our medical team, pastors, CHE and administration.

Senior Medical Team’s Office

Sowing and Reaping!

Being in South Sudan I am constantly reminded of how blessed my life is compared to those I live among. Life here is tough and a lot of hard work. No one has running water or electricity and they have to grow their own food if they want to eat.

Sponsor kids farming their groundnuts

The rains have started and with it comes the busyness of ‘sowing’. Everyone in the town, running to their villages to find a piece of land big enough to grow food for their entire family to feed them another year. This is becoming increasingly more difficult every year and this year many of the villages experienced tribal fighting. Families that ran away from their village homes are now living in empty schools and churches (empty due to COVID-19) and they have no food. Because they are displaced they also failed to sow their food and this year’s harvest will be scarce, creating a manmade famine. We really need prayer and wisdom. It is heartbreaking to see our brothers and sisters suffering and reaping the devastating consequences of tribal clashes. Oh, Lord have mercy.  So many IDP’s are already hungry, sleeping without food and shelter.

Internally Displaced People (IDP’s) in Tonj

Get involved!

The two greatest commandments; Love God, love your neighbor. Sometimes the latter is very hard to do. In USA you are experiencing racial clashes and here in Tonj we are experiencing tribal clashes. If I could only love my neighbor as I love myself!! Wouldn’t all our problems be solved, universally?? We know everything happens for a reason and there is a season for everything. Please ponder these words from Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 and James 2:14-17.

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted.”

Too many seeds of discord and hatred are being sown and as Christians we need to make sure we are sowing seeds of love, patience, kindness, joy and peace.

The people of South Sudan have suffered unthinkable atrocities, mayhem has ruled for decades and right now they need our help. I don’t want to love them in word only but in practical ways, because love is an action! We need to do something.

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

What the Lord has shown me about these IDP’s is, if my faith is real, I cannot ignore another person’s practical needs, I need to get involved. So, I am humbly asking if you are in a position to help financially, please go to our website and donate to our benevolence fund or mail in a check marked IDP.