Tuesday started with a great breakfast, some instant coffee, and a table full of friends talking about the previous day. There is a chef from Kenya who is preparing all of our meals here, and he is doing a wonderful job. It is very difficult to find foods that are recognizable to Americans here, but he is surprising us with how well he knows our palates. I have to admit that I really miss fresh home-brewed coffee. My body and mind are telling me they need it, and I have been asking the Lord for mercy. I think I drink way too much coffee in the States…
The teaching of the pastors went well yesterday, and Michael, Caleb, David, and Jason are encouraged by what God is doing in the hearts of these pastors, and that is a huge encouragement to us. They are taking the pastors through The Villages’ Recovery material. Today we are teaching the children that God is The good Creator, and everything He creates is good. We are teaching from Genesis 1, and are prayerful that this will be a good foundation to build on for the week.
We also taught that God alone is to be worshiped. Because He is His God, he created everything and nothing is worthy of praise or worship aside from God. Southern Sudan has traditionally been very animistic, meaning that there are tribes and peoples who believe that animals and nature have souls and can be deities, and therefore can be worshiped. There has also been a lot of sycretism amongst some of the Christians, and these kids might have grown up in those homes. Sycretism is the process of blending contradictory or exclusive religious beliefs together. So a real life example is that of a Christian in Sudan who believes in Jesus and the Bible, but also believes that the spirits of the dead linger on earth for a year after death, and these spirits must be appeased. We want to show these children that God alone is to be worshiped, praised, and prayed to. We showed them in the Bible in Psalm 148 that all of creation is created for the praise and worship of God.
David teaches P3 and P 4 from 11 am to noon, I teach P 5, P 6, and P7 from noon to 1pm, and Carissa teaches P 1 and P 2 from 2pm to 3 pm. There are some cute kids here, and the little kids especially just melt our hearts. Take a look at these pictures and try to tell me that these aren’t some of the cutest kids you have ever seen.
I am so thankful for Anne Lincoln Hollibaugh for putting together some great teaching for the kids. Everything we wrote on the blackboard was written down by the kids with the greatest of care. Every picture we drew was copied. The children are incredible. Carissa and I teach 2nd and 3rd graders in Kid’s Village, so we thought we knew what to expect from these kids in terms of understanding, attention span, and distractions. But these kids were fixed on what we said and what we wrote down. We gave them all copies of Genesis 1 for our lesson, and they loved it. We would move to a different classroom after we finished teaching, and I would sneak back to the last class we just finished teaching to watch and listen to the kids. They were all sitting down looking at their notes! Some were repeating them out loud. “God…is…a…good…creator…” I saw kids writing the main points on the blackboard, and I saw the kids absolutely absorbing the copies of Genesis 1 after the class was over. It was shocking to see students so desirous to learn, and so encouraging to my soul. What we taught them the first day stuck. God is a good Creator, and everything He created is good. He alone is to be worshiped and praised!
After each lesson, we ask if there is any way we can pray for the students. No one asked for prayer today, but we will hopefully work through the shyness soon. These two boys ran after our van as we left, shouting “Goodbye!” the whole way down the road. It was a big help as we prepared to drive down the road back to the compound, praying against motion sickness. We went back to the EPC compound, took cold showers (which are wonderful after a long, hot, humid day in Africa), grabbed some cold Cokes, and sat around with some of the team members, missionaries, and Sudanese talking, laughing, telling stories, and talking about the goodness of God. It is so rare for me to have such deep and consistent communication in the States, but here it is a staple of everyday life, and I love it.
We had dinner and then went to a prayer/worship service with the local Sudanese pastors and workers from the compound. It started with 30-40 minutes of worship. There are no words, projector screens, or cool graphics. There is no stage, no band, no microphones, speakers, or amps. Just a couple of African drums made from tree wood and stretched animal hides, but it is some of the best worship I’ve ever been a part of. There is dancing, and people will run up to you, grab your right hand holding it high, and start dancing. No slow dancing or anything like that. Your feet stomp out the rhythm and your clasped hands go up and down or side to side, depending on the person. These people have a joy of the Lord that is palpable. And they are incredibly welcoming and gracious. After every prayer request, testimony, or short teaching, there would be another song. The songs here are lively and deep and so worshipful and yet fun at the same time. Then the Senior Pastor, Bishop Taban, asked all the Sudanese to surround us and pray for us out loud in their tribal language (they call it their “mother tongue”). There were 5-8 different languages prayed over us, and about 60 people praying. These people are the most welcoming, encouraging, and generous people I have ever met in my life.
It was a beautiful way to end the day.