Serving South Sudan

Crossing Countries for Christ

After an epic two and a half month 16,000Km overland journey across eight countries, our Frontline Fellowship Field Team has arrived safely back in Cape Town. It was a very successful, effective and appreciated time of ministry in South Sudan.

We bounced over rocky, bumpy, pot-holed, narrow, dusty roads heading for the newest country in the world, South Sudan.

South Sudan recently (9 July 2011) gained its independence from the North after many decades of war, defending themselves against the National Islamic Government's offensive war and oppression.

Mechanical Challenges

Driving overland from South Africa through countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan certainly had a few challenges. We had our trailer axles repeatedly breaking loose, needing to be welded back. The bull-bar, roof-rack rigging, and tow-hitch rattling loose also demanded constant attention. The trailer lights got blasted out by the gravel stones from the tyres, and a wheel-bearing burned out almost seizing up. These mechanical challenges obviously slowed us down a bit, but we were still able to make all our appointments in good time.

Our trailer was loaded to the maximum weight recommended by the manufacturer with two tonnes of Bibles, Gospel literature and audio visual Evangelistic, Discipleship, Leadership and Worldview Training material.

We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, the Equator and the great Nile River and we had many opportunities to see lots of wildlife and enjoy the beauty of God's Creation.

We travelled more than 1,500 km within South Sudan on unpaved, muddy, gravel, slippery, bumpy and rocky roads.

Evidences of War

As we travelled in South Sudan we saw the evidence of war: ruins of churches that had been bombed, buildings and trees pock-marked with scars of shrapnel and bullets, and men and women with terrible scars of wounds and torture from the war. Yet they were all rejoicing over the fact that they were now free.

Freedom brings with it many choices. To truly be free one needs to be responsible to make the right choices.

Rich Heritage

Frontline Fellowship has been working in Sudan since 1994. It was a great privilege for us to have gone in after Dr. Peter Hammond and the teams from Frontline Fellowship that had served so diligently during the years of war. It was almost as if walking in the footprints of a giant or in the shadow of a hero as the people remembered Dr. Peter Hammond and Frontline Fellowship as a true friend because he had been a friend during the hard times. They said, "Peter Hammond is a blood brother because while our blood was being shed he was here risking his own life to serve us".

It was a great privilege for us to go into South Sudan now as a new country to serve and help the people to focus on building their country on Biblical principles.

Hymnbooks That Survived the War

One of the most prized possessions of the Moru people is the Moru Hymn Books which they had received from Frontline Fellowship in 1996 and these very same Hymn Books are still being used in their churches. Even though they are worn out, tattered and torn, they are still a very prized possession. Whenever we were introduced by Canon Kenneth Baringwa, he would say, "You know those Hymn Books that we use in our churches every Sunday, it is Frontline Fellowship that gave them to us". They are so grateful to Frontline for their Moru Hymn Books.

Through Sickness and Health

We persevered and pushed on through sickness and fatigue and saw many faces beaming with appreciation for the valuable training and vital materials received. This was more than enough reward and motivation to keep pushing on.

Malaria

More than half of our team had been weakened by sickness. Two of our team members, Daniel and Hunter had malaria and I went down with high fevers and pounding headaches. Fortunately, we were able to diagnose and treat both cases of malaria before it got out of hand. The men recovered well and continued to minister and carry out their responsibilities despite the discomfort of illness.

Ministry

We were in South Sudan for 5 weeks where we presented more than 140 lectures, sermons, school meetings, outreaches and devotions. We held 5 Evangelism and Biblical Worldview Seminars, lectured at 3 Colleges, preached at 10 Churches, and we had some good opportunities to minister to about 2,000 believers at the Let your Light Shine Conference. We donated books and Bibles to 4 Bible College Libraries and a Teachers' Training College Library. We also donated books to 8 Community Libraries and enriched the personal libraries of more than 220 pastors, leaders, evangelists, teachers and students.

The most appreciated book that we were able to give to the people of South Sudan was Faith Under Fire in Sudan. This book tells the story of their struggles for freedom and includes many pictures of the war that were taken during Frontline's ministry in Sudan.

It was also a great privilege to distribute The Doctor Comes to Lui book amongst the Moru people on the very soil on which Dr Kenneth Frazer (about whom the book is written) accomplished his ministry. The Moru people hold Dr Kenneth Frazer in high esteem because it was he who first brought the Gospel to them and started the first Church, the first hospital and the first school in Moruland. The Moru people told me that Dr Kenneth Frazer was the first missionary to come to their land.

Film Ministry

We screened films on 25 different occasions. We were amazed at the turnout of people to the film shows each night. Some nights there were as many as 1,000 people gathered to watch. The screening of the films Sudan: The Hidden Holocaust, and Terrorism & Persecution was undoubtedly a great encouragement to many of the folk here. Many of the people in the film were recognized by local Christians, many of whom had even experienced in real life some of the scenes that they witnessed in the film. I heard one man say as he watched: "That is where I lost my uncle!" and another man said: "That is the conflict that destroyed our village!" There was a constant hum of excited chatter and comments throughout the film as participants were recognizing faces and places, and at times in horror remembering the sufferings of the past. These were undoubtedly the most appreciated films.

Celebrating Jesus

I was encouraged by the way the Moru people responded to the Jesus film. They shouted with joy and the ladies jubilated in the traditional African way when they saw the Risen Lord Jesus appear to His disciples for the first time after His death and burial. Each time we've shown this film at different locations, we hear the same shout of praise and spontaneous applause when it came to this point in the film.

We screened the Jesusfilm in most locations and also the Sudan: The Hidden Holocaust and Terrorism & Persecution film. I'm not sure which were the favourite of these, but there was great excitement about both films and our team diligently took advantage of the opportunity to share the Gospel message to the many who gathered around our film equipment afterwards.

Sunday Services

On Sundays each of our team members had various opportunities to minister at different parishes for Sunday morning Worship services in Kajo Keji, Lui, Mundri, and Kotobi. This obviously required that our team split up and went different ways on Sundays. Some of the parishes are very rural and were only accessed by some serious bundu-bashing.

We were also able to take Devotions at the assemblies of Kotobi Institute for Teacher Education, Bishop Ngalama Bible College, Canon Beniah Poggo Bible College, Lui Hospital and Maridi's Let Your Light Shine conference.

We worked with 7 different Diocese and had good opportunities to discuss challenges and needs and future opportunities for ministry in these areas.

We had Evangelism Workshops and Biblical Worldview Seminars focusing on Evangelism and Discipleship with more than 220 Sudanese pastors, leaders, evangelists and teachers.

Personal Evangelism

During the week, after each day of lectures, we and the participants had the opportunity to go into the market places and local areas amongst the villages and do personal evangelism.

Prison Ministry

We also had opportunities to minister at a local prison and police station where we had the opportunity to share the Gospel with the prisoners and saw many trust in Christ.

School Ministry

We also ministered at local Primary and Secondary Schools where often the students took refuge from the blazing heat of the sun under the shelter and shade of a large tree. We had great opportunities to clearly share the Gospel with these enthusiastic kids.

Military Mission

We had the privilege of going to the SPLA barracks in Kajo Keji and Mundri to share the Gospel with the soldiers.

After seeing the taking down of the flag by a military officer, I was able to show the soldiers, and their wives and children, how their flag has the Gospel in it. The black on top speaks of how our hearts were dark with sin; the red in the middle shows how the Blood of Christ cleanses us and purifies us of sin; the white lines speak of how our hearts can be white as snow; the green shows us that we must grow in Grace, reading our Bibles, fellowshipping with other believers and praying; the royal blue shows us that we are now sons of the King; and the gold star shows us that we can be in Heaven one day forever.

Mechanical Challenges

On our return, about 120 km before reaching Kampala in Uganda, the vehicle's rear right wheel bearing perished, bringing our rig to a grinding halt on the side of the road. There was no way that we could continue without replacing the damaged bearing.

We had to go to Kampala to get some spares. We needed to take the entire wheel hub and drive shaft with us because it needed some professional engineering to repair the damage and have the bearing replaced.

Chaotic Traffic in Kampala

This entailed a treacherous, hair-raising ride on a "boda-boda"(a small motorcycle) through the chaotic traffic of the streets of Kampala in the busy, bustling, unorganized, chaos of vehicles weaving in and out of gaps in the traffic.

Spares and Repairs

Once we were in Kampala, we got the spares and repairs done at a Toyota dealer. We had to overnight in Kampala before being able to return on a similar hair-raising trip back to our injured vehicle on the side of the road on the outskirts of town where we had left it with two of our team members.

After putting all the pieces back together, we were able to continue our journey towards Kampala.

Lessons

I have learned many lessons on this Mission to South Sudan and I thank God for the privilege and opportunity of being able to serve in this way.

Thank You

Thank you for all your support and prayers. It is your support and prayers that have made our ministry in South Sudan possible. May God richly reward you for helping us serve this recovering war-torn country.

God has been amazingly faithful to provide all my needs. I am amazed at how God (working through others) has provided for my financial needs.

May God richly bless you.

Michael Watson
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Cell: 027-74 887 0211
PO Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480
Fax: 021-685-5884
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Website: www.frontline.org.za

To read the full Prayer Letter from Frontline Fellowship Field Worker, Mike Watson, with pictures, Click here.