Observations from the Field Team
South Sudan is important. You would never know this from the media coverage, which tends to be related to the interest of various celebrities, or from United Nations reports of body counts. From these sources, you can tell that something significant has been going on there, such as the 2.5 million people killed and 4 million displaced. It is when you examine who these people are, and what they have accomplished, despite our ignorance, that you realize that this is one of the most important countries in the world (in addition to being the youngest).
“I am privileged to have been on this team, helping to document the progress of Christians who are working to rebuild the war-torn nation of South Sudan. For two weeks, our team traveled East Africa, visiting some of the poorest and most oppressed people on Earth. These people, many of whom have spent their entire lives in refugee camps due to war and persecution, are just now beginning to rebuild. We walked through villages and fields that support thousands of people in South Sudan, where only five years ago there was nothing but overgrown bush.”
“We went to South Sudan to share with them the fulness of what it means to be a Christian nation, not just to share the Gospel with a few people (which we did) and not just to meet physical needs (which we did). We were able to declare this comprehensive obedience to Christ's comprehensive Reign, painting a vision for the future of South Sudan that the modern church denies and the United Nations despises. We were able to declare the unimaginable faithfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ upon a people that will take refuge in Him alone. "Seek first the Kingdom of God!" we were able to declare, reassuring the noble and courageous people of South Sudan that the Lord Jesus Christ Who delivered them from the evils of Islam will also nurture, protect, guide and provide for their fragile nation as they move forward during this extremely vulnerable time, as the poorest, sickest, youngest nation on the earth with millions of needy refugees pouring back into their homeland.”
“I believe one of the most important things we may have done was to impress on the people who came to hear us at the one-day conference the choice between life and death given in Deuteronomy 30:15-19.
The U.N. is moving its disciple makers quickly into South Sudan. Their gospel is salvation by birth control, abortion, feminism, sodomy, and humanistic education. The men and women who came to hear us expressed how encouraged they felt to hear the U.N. theology juxtaposed against Scripture's direct teaching. Many were already wary of U.N. doctrines, but our team carried a great deal of authority as Americans and Westerners. As one older man expressed it me, "You have traveled so far to speak to us; what you say is true."
We honored their victory over the forces of Islam, encouraged local agriculture and business, discussed adult education aimed toward home education, and touched on many other topics of concern raised by the people, but our underlying message was quite simple. It was the theme of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy: The choice to follow U.N. theology or simply the refugee camp conditioning of laziness and promiscuity will lead to more death and destruction for South Sudan. Opening Scripture to obey it, if done from faith in Christ, will bring life, liberty, justice, and prosperity. "Choose this day whom you will serve."
Dr. Matt Clark quickly learned the Madi phrase, "Jesu Nyope vuchidudi'i"-- Jesus is King of the whole world. Dr. Clark spoke this to everyone he met and taught it to every group of children who eagerly clustered round us throughout our trip.
Our trip thus flowed from Christ's total authority over all men and nations: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." Jesus is King of not only our small team but of South Sudan, America, and the whole world. Our business is to implore everyone, "Be reconciled to God," for He "commands all people everywhere to repent." We work toward and pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." After we spoke, several local pastors and community leaders stood with gratitude and passion to re-emphasize our messages.”
One of the purposes our trip to South Sudan, was to determine the moral integrity of the people. A common stereotype of many African people is that they lack of vision. People will work for what they can get right then, but not for anything that will have long term payoff. In South Sudan, some of that stereotype remains, but we discovered that many men are trying to build their country. And they've learned that the only way they can raise up their country from ground zero is to have have a vision for the future, and be willing to sacrifice for it.
“The deepest impression I came away with was the sheer resilience of the people we met. I have never been in contact with a people who have suffered so much; almost all of them having had loved ones tortured or killed, homes and villages burned and looted, sisters and mothers raped and killed. Now after years in refugee camps, they are back on their ancestral lands rebuilding their lives for the second time, building them literally out of the ashes of what they once had. Given all that, I was expecting them to be mistrustful of outsiders and heavy hearted about their past. To my surprise, they were incredibly open, hospitable and trusting. Not only that, they had a joyful spirit about them that was a mighty testimony to the presense of God in their lives. In fact I don't know if I've ever been around such a joyful people.”
“The most refreshing and exciting part of the trip was to behold the openness of the people. At first, it was hard to tell if they were listening. But when Mr. Botkin and the other men taught from the Scripture, it was like a chord in their souls had been struck. Their response was humbling. I have been all over the world in my many different travels, but never have seen such a hunger of truth and eagerness to implement what has been taught.”
“As I spoke to person after person, I was left marveling that despite the challenges and hardships, bitterness had not spoiled them. The people we met were humble, hopeful, and open to the teachings of scripture about how to strengthen their families and communities. We met men who are working to disciple their families, shepherd churches, develop an economy of production and provision, and establish a nation with a solid foundation. We met men who have the courage to reject some ungodly traditions of their own culture, and also the godless doctrines of supranational organizations designed to tear apart their families.”
“The trip was important for the people of South Sudan who heard challenging messages live or recorded over the radio, as team members were interviewed live-to-air, broadcast across several countries, and as messages from the conference and subsequent pre-recorded follow-up messages from Mr. Botkin were broadcast.
The trip was important for the South Sudanese who have been impacted by the work of William Levi- they saw a large group of American Christians throw their effort and support behind his reformational vision. I suspect there are many who will take William Levi's vision and the work of Operation Nehemiah a lot more seriously - and thus be more open to home education, sustainable economics through agriculture, and the other things that William represents - just because of the example of this group adding its support and thus providing external "validation" to the vision.”
“Dominion Farms in Kenya was a garden in the middle of a wasteland. American Calvin Burgess has leased 17,000 acres of swamp and converted it into a very productive and growing farm of rice fields and fish ponds. It is now feeding upwards of 100,000 people. His vision for seeing potential for what Africa had and needed included maturing the African men into responsible workers and managers. The nationals now manage the entire farm and operate the large equipment -- something that was previously never encouraged. These men gave testimony of previously being weak and fearful. They are now bold, God-fearing men, confidently managing their resources well. The farm is now injecting into the local economy a large amount of money every few weeks. Calvin is now expanding his vision to Nigeria. The Nigerian government is providing 70,000+ acres for a similar farm. While we were at Dominion, there were 50 hand-selected Nigerians being trained by the Kenyan staff. Now we have the “students” being “teachers” -- those being discipled, discipling others in Godly character and principles for life.”
“In Borongole we have a unique opportunity because Luke, the headmaster of the public school, said that he would like to teach families how to home school, and will instruct his 10 best Christian teachers to do it - by teaching families how to read together as families. He and his Christian teachers don't want to teach the UN curriculum that is being given to them in the public schools.
As team member Joshua Miller observed about Kenya, "I've never seen a place with so many schools, and so little knowledge." Africa with all of its schools and British-style government bureaucracies has the facade of civilization, but underneath the surface the heart of true civilization - Christian family culture - does not exist here.
Luke needs outside support. We have to model it, we have to support them, we have to have people who will go there and do it. We need to help them create a library. We need to help them establish farming businesses to provide family income. Africa needs to see families modeling the Gospel as families and as entrepreneurs.”
“I have been asked by many people ‘Why Africa?’ ‘It is a ‘God-forsaken place’. ‘Why go there?’ My answer is, the reason it is “God-forsaken” is that people are not willing to go and teach them what the Scripture has to say, what it means to “take dominion”, what it means to fulfill the Great Commission.”
“Seeing the needs and opportunities was eye-opening and encouraging. They differ from westerners in so many ways, and yet in so many ways their needs are the same. They are rich with opportunity, if they would be further transformed by the renewing of their minds, and apply such thinking to the development of their nation.”
What sets these people apart is not the high death rate, having the lowest public health indicators in the world (which they do in many areas), or even the terrible and long-term suffering; it is the fact that they have triumphed. The people of South Sudan are the first people in almost a century to push back the terrible onslaught of Islam. That's right - it has been 95 years since the last retreat of Islam, when the British pushed the Turks out of Israel in 1917. The Turks had massacred 1.5 million Christian Armenians, and countless Muslim Arabs as well. Finally their reign of terror came to an end in the First World War a century ago at the hands of the then-mighty British empire, with tanks, airplanes, machine guns, great naval warships, and thousands of first-class equipped soldiers as the land of Israel was freed from Islamic domination. A century has passed now without further retreat of the Islamic world domination effort, but this time it was the impoverished people of South Sudan, without the accoutrements of modern warfare, who have succeeded in pushing them back and winning their freedom. They did this with very little military assistance from the outside, and against terrible odds.
We have much to learn from South Sudan. The Christians there have been through the refiner's fire, and have emerged with ... I cannot describe it except to relate the joy and awe in listening to their children sing praises to Almighty God who has saved them, and yet did allow them to endure this tragedy. One wonders how American Christians would respond - will respond - when the same comes our way.
“I have seen the truth of scripture play out before my eyes: that when the Lord’s people turn to him in faith and obedience, He will lift them up.
Isaiah 41:17-20When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree and the pine, and the box tree together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.
This is what I saw happening in Africa. Christian civilization is being born from the ashes of violence and famine. There are many obstacles, and the Christians there need help, instruction, and brotherly support. But I came home with a powerful impression that the Lord is working in the hearts and minds of people in East Africa. If the Lord wills that the humble, oppressed people of South Sudan should become the future example of Christian life and civilization to the rest of the world, then I want to be a part of that. And I will rejoice along with my brothers and sisters in America and in South Sudan that our King can overcome war, death, poverty, and even the sin in our very hearts, to establish His glorious kingdom at home and across the globe.”