Discipling Church Leaders in South Sudan

August 9, 2019 • South Sudan

A Samaritan’s Purse discipleship initiative encourages a congregation in a refugee camp to take a step of faith and trust that God will provide.

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Like most members of his church, Pastor Mikias and his family struggle with life in a South Sudanese refugee camp. They fled down from the Nuba Mountains in Sudan without any personal belongings and rely on monthly food rations to survive.

Women read the sermon text during a Sunday morning worship service.

Women read the sermon text during a Sunday morning worship service.

Despite hardships, Pastor Mikias gathered together a group of Christian believers and began meeting in a small community center in Ajuong Thok refugee camp about six years ago.

The center was shared by other churches and also hosted community events, so his church did not always have access to the building and space was limited.

The congregation needed a new worship space if they were going to grow and reach more people with the Gospel. But how could they build a new facility when they sometimes couldn’t even provide for their most basic needs?

Working Together

Samaritan’s Purse connected last year with Pastor Mikias and invited him and other members of his church to participate in our training known as the Church-Based Discipleship Initiative.

Through this effort, our staff are working with churches throughout South Sudan to help bolster their faith in order to serve God in ways they never thought possible.

  • Through our discipleship initiative, church members learned to trust God and to rely on His promises in Scripture.

The project specifically encourages congregations to prayerfully consider how they can use their limited resources to advance the Gospel and bless others. A primary goal is to foster bold dependence on God rather than reliance on the government, NGOs, or other groups.

“It’s exciting to see people take that initiative and see that God is with them and that He will bless them when they put their hope in Him,” said Mark Bennett, Samaritan’s Purse South Sudan country director. “It’s about reminding people of God’s promises and trusting God to bless them where they are today with what they have from God.”

After the training, Pastor Mikias and the Sudanese Church of Christ were ready to step up and make a difference in their community. They wanted to construct a church building so that more people could join them for worship and prayer and hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Worship in this South Sudan church is always joyful and filled with praise.

For the next six months, church members worked together on the building. They used natural resources, such as timber in the bush and grass for the roof. Pastor Mikias is thankful that God provided them with good health during the building process and protected them when they went into the forest.

“Everyone was willing. No one gave up,” he said. “The congregation was so encouraged doing the work.”

Pastor Mikias said that the Samaritan’s Purse training and the new church building has led to much rejoicing in Ajuong Thok. “People were overjoyed and thanking God and thanking Samaritan’s Purse.”

Since completing the building earlier this year, the congregation has already grown to as many as 500. “People who never went to church are starting to come to the church,” Pastor Mikias said. “People have hope in Christ here.”

Manila’s Story

Manila and many women in the congregation joined the effort to construct the church building.

Manila has attended the church for several years, and when it came time to construct the building, she was eager to help. Manila organized women in the church to serve on the construction team and cooked meals for those working.

“People came together and united as a church,” she said. “We are one body of Christ.”

Throughout both the Samaritan’s Purse training and the construction process, Manila experienced the blessing of Christians working together. “If you go alone, you won’t succeed,” she said.

The church means a lot to Manila because of the spiritual encouragement she has received, especially in light of her traumatic past. War forced Manila and her eight children to escape from the Nuba Mountains, where they lacked educational opportunities and healthcare. When her son had his hands blown off by a bomb, and Manila had no way to help him, she knew it was time to go.

“After that incident, we had to flee. I couldn’t wait for another tragedy to happen,” Manila said.

As many as 500 people gather for weekly services in the new building.

Manila’s husband stayed behind to care for both their mothers, who are too old to travel. Manila hasn’t seen him in nearly a year, and while it’s hard caring for her children on her own, she hasn’t lost hope.

“I am depending on God,” she said.

Manila learned during the Samaritan’s Purse training how to share the hope she has in God with others. She was encouraged to be more engaged with her neighbors and people in the community, and to build relationships, in order to share her faith. She’s also started doing daily devotions with her children.

“I give thanks to God and to Samaritan’s Purse,” Manila said. “God brought you from far away to support us.”

Blessing Others

When another church that had been meeting in the community center reached out to Pastor Mikias and the Sudanese Church of Christ for help in building a worship space of their own, he and his congregation were ready.

The congregation prays that many more refugees will come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The congregation prays that many more refugees will come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior.

“What is here should be there,” Pastor Mikias said. “It’s important for believers to meet together.”

Pastor Mikias’s church not only assisted the other congregation—led by Pastor Yucuil—as they built a sanctuary, but some church members also helped with their weekly worship service.

Pastor Yucuil described Pastor Mikias, Manila, and the Sudanese Church of Christ as “servants of God.”

“They come to our church to encourage us and to teach,” he said. “By working together, they are a reflection of Christ.”

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

For more articles and videos, see our South Sudan landing page.

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South Sudan Relief Samaritan’s Purse is providing emergency food and clean water for people in South Sudan who have been internally displaced by an ongoing conflict within the country, and we continue to provide emergency aid to refugees who have fled violence in the Nuba Mountains and other parts of Sudan. Additional projects include drilling wells to provide clean water, distributing food to fight hunger and malnutrition, providing medical care for the sick and suffering, and working through the local church to build up communities through education and biblical literacy.

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