All posts by Alex Smith

June 2021 Newsletter

‘CHE‘ Community Health Evangelism Expansion!

Last week we had several days of CHE leaders training and planning for the next six months. It was exciting hearing testimonies such as Pastor Joseph baptizing two more witchdoctors on Sunday, and six more villages in Maloney begging Pastor Santino to bring them the gospel! Our team had a goal of reaching 20 villages with the gospel through CHE by the end of the year, but the harvest is ripe, the Holy Spirit is moving, and our team are passionate – so we are now praying and believing for 25 villages by the end of the year! Would you join us in praying for that? We currently have 19 villages with 18 villages on the waiting list.

CHE Leaders Listing Potential Villages

Malaria Season!

From May to November every year we have our rainy season, but the more accurate name would be the ‘malaria season’. With the blessing of rain comes this deadly disease of malaria. In our region of Tonj the common parasite P. falciparum causes malaria in humans with devastating effects on children under five years of age. This parasite is the leading cause of death from malaria in the world. More than 200 million people a year get malaria and half a million die, with 94% of these deaths coming from this particular parasite in Africa and infants accounting for 67% of those deaths.  As we enter malaria season, we are rapidly seeing an increase in patient numbers. However, the team on the ward are also managing increasingly complex patients. Some children arrive incredibly unwell, and with other severe infections, like Adit pictured here, suffering from TB and pneumonia, which then leads on to complications such as severe acute malnutrition and dehydration.

Adit with her Mother

The time and resources required to manage these children are immense – how grateful we are to have solar power, oxygen concentrators, therapeutic milk, and passionate hard-working staff. Without a doubt these children would not live were it not for our generous partners and the care provided by the team at IDAT. Please continue to pray for the mothers, children, and babies in the ward. Pray that we can continue to demonstrate God’s love to these families, that they will hear the gospel and be transformed by it!

Facing Fears!

In Tonj there is no blood bank. When a patient needs an urgent transfusion, we need a donor (or two or three) right then and there. We have come to realize that donating blood is a culturally difficult thing to do in South Sudan, even for a family member, which makes us so proud of our staff when they overcome their fears to save the life of someone they have never met.

Mary Donating Blood

This is Mary, a midwife assistant who was working night shift when one of her patients needed an urgent transfusion. These are the twins that were born to the mother who received her blood. We are praising God for Mary and that all three, mother and babies, are now healthy and well.

Healthy Twins

The fear of last year’s food shortage is real as many families already face hardships this year. IDAT is ready with food and seeds in stores and in May we did our first food distribution.

“For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13

We were able to feed and supply seeds to over 500 families who lost their homes and gardens in last year’s tribal clashes. Many of these families are still living as IDP’s (internally displaced people).

Sharing Seeds Among Families

We will continue to support this need throughout the summer. If you would like to partner with us to provide food to these displaced families, please donate through our website or send a check to the address below and designate your donation to ‘benevolence fund’.

May 2021 Newsletter

CC Tonj Church in Progress!

We have a great problem! And this is one area of our ministry challenges that I am excited to share with you and ask you to join us in prayer.

The Lord used a simple Bible passage to move us to ministry in Tonj back in 2000. And it is the passage where we got our ministry name and vision.

1 John 3:16-18 – “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

We never saw ourselves as a church planting ministry and so we started with one church for our own needs, known as CC Tonj. We started with about 20 regulars and a few more on Christmas and Easter. This church has slowly expanded over the years. We moved it to a local school and then outside at the local school.

CC Tonj at the Old School in 2013

Eventually we went back to the compound because carrying our benches and chairs became difficult for the growth.

CC Tonj on the IDAT Compound

When our Community Health Evangelism (CHE) program started in 2012 we had the desire to empower local church ministry in the CHE villages. This is when our church planting ministry really took off.

Nine-Month-Old Church Plant in Wargiir

We started investing in local pastors, training them to not just plant churches but for the churches to thrive, grow, and multiply.

Monthly Pastor’s Training

In 2016 we realized CC Tonj needed its own land. It was an amazing witness of the power of God to our church that was fasting and praying for the right land when the Lord did above and beyond what we asked or thought possible. We found a huge piece of land in a residential area with no buildings on it. It was about 16 plots and worth $10,000. It was perfect except the land was swampy in the rainy season. We approached the land commission and they sold it to us for just $200!!

Grading and Fencing CC Tonj Land

In 2017 we raised enough money to start building our church. In 2018 we purchased all the materials and trucked them to Tonj. By 2019 we realized the church had already outgrown the building plans we had. As we redesigned and bought additional materials, we were also blessed by a UN Road building crew that helped us grade our land in 2020. Then the pandemic happened, and everything went on hold…including church. Our construction crew used the time to started putting up the fence.

When we started church again last September, we started meeting on the new land in a makeshift bamboo tarp structure.

Temporary Church Structure for CC Tonj

This is when we dedicated the land unto the Lord for His purposes and ministry. We have watched this church continue to grow steadily every week.  In 2021 we found a contractor and broke ground!!

1 John 3:16 says “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” Easter was a time to reflect on what Jesus did for us and so we laid this land at the feet of Jesus. We had around 3,000 people in attendance and baptized several hundred new believers. In verse 17 “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” It is interesting to me that the first ministry we used the land for was the food crisis last year. We put a container on the land and filled it with food for distribution.

Church Land Being Used for Food Distribution

Lastly, verse 18, we want our ministry and this land to be a physical blessing IN DEED and a spiritual blessing IN TRUTH. So the problem we face right now is we have so many people coming to church but no building. We are entering the rainy season and ask for favor in completing the building.

April 2021 Newsletter

Maternal Care!

Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death among women in South Sudan, which currently ranks fifth highest in the world for maternal mortality. One of the goals of the In Deed and Truth Medical Clinic is to make childbirth safer and provide a place women can come for prenatal care as well as care for her delivery and post-natal treatment.

In an unforeseen emergency during labor, you can a get a ‘stat’ cesarean section in a Western hospital, in about 15 minutes. Here in Tonj, you’re lucky if it’s an hour, and overnight it will be three at least. Despite this, in the last 6 years we have never lost a baby for want of a quicker c-section.

Mother with healthy twins after a complicated birth

The best is when God steps in and makes it unnecessary, like for the second-born twin here. His placenta was born before him and he was in a position incompatible with birth. His heart tones were barely detectable. We began to pray and also arrange a c-section for a dead baby. Somehow, after minutes without an oxygen supply, he was born naturally, responded beautifully to resuscitation and was discharged a healthy baby, showing no signs of his ordeal. Praise God for His help!

Ward Care!

The 25-bed ward is at full capacity, filled with sick neonates, infants, children and pregnant mothers.

CPAP Baby in the IDAT Ward

This past month has seen an influx of young children admitted with severe dehydration due to vomiting and/or diarrhea. It is scary how rapidly they can deteriorate even within a few hours.

Severely dehydrated and malnourished child on the IDAT ward

We are fortunate to have the resources to effectively treat their dehydration, as well as the underlying cause. We import a special therapeutic milk that aids in building their strength and stabilizes their condition so they can be referred to the government nutrition program to receive PlumpyNut, a lifesaving peanut paste used to treat severe acute malnutrition in young children. We are heading into a season of food shortage and ask for your prayers and wisdom as we treat these precious children. The milk is expensive to buy and has to be brought in from Kenya.  Despite our best care and prayers, some don’t make it but those that do we like to celebrate their victory stories, like Deng! He is a 1-year-old boy who arrived to the ward severely dehydrated and also acutely malnourished.

Deng before treatment

We rehydrated Deng using a feeding tube as he was too weak to drink. We also started him on a careful treatment plan for malnutrition using the special therapeutic milk. After one week we were able to discharge him home.

Deng after treatment

**Pray for the current food situation.

The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ – Mathew 25:40

March 2021 Newsletter

Medical Training!

One of the most effective ways to fight poverty and boost economic development is through job creation. Our ministry has invested in our own medical staff over the last 8 years so they can fill the primary roles needed in our clinic. Bridging the skills gap in South Sudan is critical if we are to see social and economic progress. Through partnership with African Mission Healthcare (AMH), we have trained five clinical officers, 3 nurses, one pharmacist, one lab technician and one medical administrator. As our clinic/hospital grows, our greatest need is for a medical doctor to serve as Medical Director over the IDAT Clinic.

Gabriel serving as Clinical Officer with IDAT

Gabriel Gojoh, our first medical staff member to get a scholarship, has served with IDAT since 2010. He is a faithful brother in the Lord and started working in the IDAT Clinic at age 18 years as a Community Health Worker while he completed the last three years of his high school education. South Sudan was behind other African countries in education so getting him accepted into a university in 2013 in Kenya was challenging. Thankfully, the Presbyterian University of East Africa accepted him as a three-year student in Clinical Medicine, Surgery and Community Health, where he graduated top of his class out of 30 students. He returned to Tonj and the IDAT Clinic in 2016 and started a one-year internship as a Clinical Officer (Physician’s Assistant). Now he is part of our Senior Medical Team and committed to IDAT Clinic for long term service. Please join us in praying for Gabriel as we make plans for him to train as a Medical Doctor and becoming our future Medical Director. If you feel called to partner with this need please email us.

CHW Training!

Zac and Rebekah Soper are long-term missionaries that joined our team last year from New Zealand. Every January we have a new intake of Community Health Workers (CHW’s) that are used to assist the Senior Medical Staff in the clinic and the ward. These CHW’s come without any medical background or knowledge. It is a huge commitment of our time, every year to train them to serve safely and effectively. Zac developed a 10-week internship class covering everything from infection control and vital signs to anatomy and physiology.

CHW’s in Training

He started a class in January with 21 CHW students who will graduate this month after completing intensive theory and practical work.

CHW’s Practice Injection Safety

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Ephesians 4:11-12

CHE Training!

Over 400 of our Pastors and Community Health Evangelists (CHEs) from 12 of our 15 villages gathered together at CC Tonj for our first ever CHE Conference!

CHE’s in Training

These CHEs volunteer themselves to travel around their neighbors each week and teach story-based health promotion and gospel lessons which our IDAT CHE trainers have taught them. They also help lead community development projects within their villages such as repairing bore holes, community gardens for widows and orphans, and establishing village schools.

CHE’s Picking Trash in Tonj

People arrived from their villages singing & dancing with great excitement, ready to worship, hear testimonies, receive intense training and intercede for one another.

CHE’s Singing and Dancing

February 2021 Newsletter

Testimonies!

During his Christmas break, IDAT Pastor Santino Bak returned to his home village of Pagol to share the gospel. On Christmas Eve he showed the Jesus film to around 500 people! The next morning many of them returned to hear more about God and as a result 150 new believers were baptized!

New Believers in Pagol

Pastor Joseph Yuot also held an outreach in his village nearby and saw a powerful move of God, including one of the village witch-doctors dedicating his life to Christ. Both communities are hungry for the Lord, and have requesting us to bring our Community Health Evangelism (CHE) program to help them improve their physical lives and grow spiritually.

Baptism of New Believers

‘And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ – ACTS 22:16

Our new CHE village in Wargiir is already having a powerful impact. A new believer called Mabior Akech, accepted Jesus Christ as Savior for the first time. He called us to go and pray at his house with his family and to burn all the satanic material and items in his home.

Pastor Santino Burning Idols

His faith and acceptance of Christ was due to our growing CHE program.

Jesus Film Outreach in the CHE Villages

South Sudan has some of the worst health statistics in the world, with 10% of children dying before their 5th birthday. There are also high rates of food insecurity, a lack of safe drinking water, and poor access to education. Emotionally, the South Sudanese have suffered the trauma of the longest civil war in the history of Africa. Relationally there are still longstanding cycles of revenge between many tribes and clans. Many of the villages in South Sudan are living in spiritual darkness having never heard the gospel.  The CHE program teaches health and spiritual lessons using bible stories that promote emotional, relational, and spiritual health through addressing topics such as forgiveness, loving your neighbor, prayer, salvation, and God’s desire for us to live in wholeness.

New CHE Village Committee Graduation

It’s been a long process for our ministry of building capacity and gaining experience in CHE, but it’s so exciting to see, what started as a vision and passion, coming into fruition as we enter the ‘multiplication’ stage of CHE.  Because people have given, we have been able to establish CHE in 10 villages around Tonj. With continued support we hope to expand that to 18 villages this year, 26 villages by the end of 2022 and 100 villages by 2030!

One More Testimony!!

Praise God for another witch doctor putting their faith in Jesus Christ! Deng & Kamic brought their child Muom to the IDAT clinic with severe malaria and were touched by the love of God in our staff, and the words spoken by Pastor Joseph Kuol when he shared the gospel with them. Thankfully, they live near one of our new church plants in Wargiir so will have a place to grow their newfound faith.

Ps. Joseph Kuol with Deng, Kamic and Muom