South Sudan Wrap-Up

March 18, 2015

By Lory Beth Huffman It is good to be back home after an awesome and incredible experience working with United Methodist pastors in South Sudan. I participated in the South Sudan Theological Training Initiative (sponsored by Duke Divinity School and the Pastor Parish Fund) where we worked with 4 of the best English speaking pastors of the 18 currently serving the country. We taught them for during a weeklong intensive with the expectation that they will take what they learned and teach the rest of their colleagues. It was amazing how much they learned in a week when on Friday they each had to do a 10 minute lesson on the material. South Sudan is the newest country in the world gaining its independence in 2011. It is struggling with inner tribal conflict and the challenge of establishing government and bringing the different tribes together to work for the good of the country. It is amazing to see how the United Methodist Church is working hard in a few of the states to help establish programs and ministry to help the people. The church provides a preschool at almost all of its churches and many of them provide a health clinic as well. Classes may take place under the trees or in grass roofed, mud/brick huts. Churches are dirt floors, thatched roof structures filled with music and dancing and preaching God's Word Here are a couple pictures from the experience:

 The privilege of helping the Gospels to come alive for these guys, and to plan and lead worship together with each other, to talk about early Christian theologians that came from North Africa and to help them tackle some of the ministry challenges they face, was pure joy and privilege. Their faithfulness was inspiring as none of these pastors are paid and most struggle to find work to supplement their family's income. But God uses them in powerful ways. We take so much for granted here in the U.S. The way we waste food is a travesty when just to have meat with their meals is a real treat. We take for granted having clean water in abundance for whatever we need- when we would treat it much differently if the women in our families had to walk a few miles to fill up a 4 gallon container and walk with one on her head and two in her hands several times a day. We complain about paying taxes in our country but trust me, if you lived in South Sudan you would gladly pay some taxes if the government could provide roads as good as ours. The power goes off at midnight in Yei, South Sudan where we are. The temperatures were up to 107 degrees during the day. We really should be ashamed at what we complain about or take for granted most days. And the church. Seeing what their churches were trying to accomplish with so little resources. We squander the precious resources we have and fail to impact our communities in ways that truly matter like they are able to do. I know that is a generalization but the difference is profound. And it makes some of our squabbles seem so petty when we stop to look at the Kingdom Work we are supposed to be about. So I challenge you to take the blessings and resources and conveniences you have been given and maximize them for God's Kingdom. Not your best interest. Not even the best interest of the church. But for the purpose of transforming lives for Jesus Christ. Lory Beth Huffman shared this by email with all of her clergy in the Appalachian District and through a link to their Facebook page Hear more about the trip on Connect that aired on 3/18/15