Last night we arrived back home to our Iris Base here in Yei after being gone all week up north. As usual it was an incredible journey. The road to Juba wasn’t too bad but it still took us six and a half hours to drive 100 miles. We hired two Land Cruisers and we were heavily loaded with people (20 of us) and supplies. We reached Juba by nightfall and stayed with our pastor there, John Light. Yes his name really is Light! His Mundari name is Barara which means light. He is more full of joy than any person I know on the planet. He always, always smiles and laughs with his entire face and being. One cannot help but to be happy when he is near. His congregation was awaiting our arrival so we literally had to unload, pitch tents and immediately present ourselves for preaching and praying. No “prep” time here! I love it, as one has no choice but to follow the Holy Spirit. We prayed for one older lady who was blind and she received healing in one of her eyes. She was very happy for sure.
The next morning we went to visit a place called St Mary’s which is a graveyard. People live in this place amongst the headstones. Their shacks are made of tarps and plastic and pieces of tin or wood, whatever they can find. It was raining and there was mud everywhere. It was surreal to walk into that place and see headstones, which were supposed to lie flat on the ground, partially sunken in the mud, leaving an edge slanting up from the earth. One would have to step around them to enter their homes and such. We found a small church structure, which was basically some wooden posts and beams and a tin roof with no walls. One of our older boys, now a man working in Juba, built it for them with the help of Confident Children Out of Conflict Ministry. We were not expected there that day, we just showed up. Some of the ladies began bringing us chairs to sit on, carrying them over their heads in the steady rain. It was somewhat cold that day and these ladies were soaked to the bone to make sure we were comfortable. I tell you, the people here know how to welcome people into their homes no matter where they live.
There were some men there whom we later learned were the pastor and elders, most of whom were already drinking alcohol when we arrived. The same went for many of the women. St Mary’s is a very sad and dark place but it touches my heart to see that they still yearn to know the Lord the best way they know how and with what small faith they have, they still come to hear. We sang some worship songs and then shared a message about identity as sons of God and freedom in Christ Jesus from the things that were keeping them prisoners. One lady came forward and told us she had stolen a backpack from someone and that it had witchcraft items in it and ever since then her family has been sick and been attacked by demons in the night. I have heard many, many stories from so many people who have literally been attacked in the night by an unseen force who chokes and scratches them. She brought the pack to us and we burned the witchcraft items and later turned the pack into the police, not revealing the source of the pack. We also prayed for this lady and her two children who knelt before us to be set free from the demons.
That night we preached and ministered again at the church. The spirit of joy hit the house and people were singing and dancing forever. It was amazing the energy they had to dance for so long into the night. The next morning we packed up our tents and headed for Terekeka, a town north of Juba. Mostly Mundari people live in that area. We were welcomed by a small group of people singing and dancing and were led to a small, very small church under a tree. We prayed and then commenced to setting up our campsite once again. Some of us wandered around the neighborhood to meet the people. I met a lady who was brewing the local gin and visited with her for a bit. We moved on and found a small baby with a cleft lip and the mother was drunk. There was also a grandma lying on a mat in the yard in a lot of pain. We prayed for her and she felt some ease of her pain. I saw many children with deformities and mental problems and many, many people smelling of strong alcohol or appearing drunk. We think that there were a lot of fetal alcohol syndrome children in this village.
That night we had a service under the tree. Not many people came and it was mostly children. I felt sad that an entire village seemed so downtrodden. We had big speakers and a keyboard and usually this alone draws crowds. Not here in this place. People just seemed sad and hopeless. There was a deaf mute boy who regained some of his hearing. He also had mental problems. The next day we went around house to house and prayed for people. My small team, we met an old man who had been crippled up for 25 years and bedridden for the last three years. He couldn’t talk and his arms were all bent in and his legs were stiff. He smelled of urine. We learned his story and then prayed for him. Then I asked if I could sit him up. I felt he needed to remember what it felt like to sit up. The family was hesitant but they agreed. We sat him up and after a few minutes we let him go and he sat on his own. A tear rolled down his cheeks. We then asked if we could stand him up. He hadn’t sat up much less stood for three years. The family again was hesitant. I pressed on as I felt like fighting for this one. The family relented after the man kept mumbling that he wanted this. We stood him up and barely supported him and his legs were holding him up on his own, praise Jesus!
The biggest miracle in this man was the dignity that was restored to him. When he stood up he set his face like flint and stood like a soldier, like the policeman he was for almost 20 years before he was crippled, even though tears were rolling down his face. Tears were rolling down my face and the other missionary with me. It was such an amazingly special moment. Another one of our teams ran into a demon possessed drunk guy who was manifesting demons, like doing really weird stuff and speaking in a demonic language that wasn’t anything South Sudan. They rebuked the demon and started praying for the man. He fell to his knees and started weeping, sobbing, tears gushing from his eyes. The team kept praying for him and they said that they even felt his anguish and travailed with him. He later stood up and hugged the team in gratitude and was laughing and couldn’t quit saying how he was going home to his family and starting a new life with them.
I would like to interject here with a quote about demons from a book I am reading, “The Apostle: The Life of Paul (John Pollock Series)”:
Stories of demons and evil spirits “do not baffle Christians in the less developed world outside of the industrialized nations. Nor will any spiritually sensitive Westerner who has slept unknowingly near the altar to the spirits in a tribal house, or has confronted a witch doctor, be disposed to doubt. The powers of evil may prefer sophisticated forms in the West, but the rest of the world is wary of dismissing evil spirits or demons as figments of the imagination.”
When one has seen the immediate transformation before their very eyes of a person delivered from demons, that one will never doubt again the reality of evil spirits and demons. Also that one will not fear again confronting them, knowing the power of Jesus Christ in us and the authority that we carry.
We prayed for another man who wasn’t drinking at the time and was sober but he admitted to being an alcoholic and desperately wanting to quit. He heard we were walking around the neighborhood and came looking for us, seeking us out, to pray with him. I saw the desperation in his eyes to be released from his addiction. He brought us to his house to also pray with his wife because he felt his drinking is what shut his wife’s womb and he wants a daughter to go with his two sons. I was able to give my testimony of my drinking and partying days and how I got saved, just like him, desperate for a change, for life abundantly. Many people gathered as we prayed. This man had such a humble heart and didn’t care who was watching or listening to these very personal details of his life. He wanted a Savior. It was awesome how people kept wanting us to go here and there with them. They were desperate.
THE HARVEST IS RIPE AND PEOPLE ARE CRYING OUT TO BE PICKED AND SAVED AND HEALED!!! Can you imagine people searching you out for prayer, you a stranger in their village? The people in our world need a Savior, they need Jesus. I wish I could arrange for team after team to come to Terekeka where they are starving for HIS attention. I wish the entire world had a harvest this rich. We never got any rest in the five days as people kept coming for prayer, for answers, for the Savior. Even when we stopped for gas or food, we would pray for people. There is such a desperation in this war torn country, such a desperate need for a Savior, for the King of kings, for the Lover of their souls. If you want to reap an abundant harvest, rich in mercy, come, go, it is all over the world right now.
We left Terekeka to travel back to Juba and again the church was there, already set up, and people singing and dancing, WAITING for us to arrive! I am just amazed at the hunger for God here. Saturday we packed up and came back home to Yei.
We ate some of the best fish ever. The Nile is right there in Terekeka and Juba. I even baptized some people in the Nile River this week. That was way cool. I brought home over 20 kgs of fresh fish for the kids and we had it for lunch today! I was able to buy some ice in Juba as they sell it in large blocks. The children were so very happy. It was like Christmas. I love bringing them good things. Today we are all tired and we rest. Church this morning at our place was all testimonies of what God did in Juba and Terekeka. The older kids are beside themselves for wanting to go on extended outreach so desperately. I want to take them! We continue to run into these dark places EXPECTING the glory of the Lord to meet us there! Praise HIM!