If your not keen on reading feel free to skip right to the bottom for photos and videos :)
Missionary Mark came to the compound with great news. It seemed an American missionary was leaving South Sudan and offering him first dibs on his modified Toyota Land cruiser for $10,000!!! This for a car that was receiving a lot of interest from the government as well as other NGOs, not to mention the real value of the car was well over $30,000. The American could see that this car would indeed be a blessing to reaching the remote lost tribes and greatly reduce the burden on the missionaries labouring in this region. What an opportunity. The only catch was there was 10 days to come up with the funds or the car would have to go to one of the NGOs that had cash waiting, and for a higher price. Gulp.
Could God really supply this money in such a short a period to this small organisation starting out in South Sudan, with nothing in their pockets? Of corse he can, and what’s more we knew it. We prayed in faith, and believe it or not, in just 2 days the money came in! From Kenya, Europe, and North America. Did you know God has a passion for his labours to be in the fields. Calling out his children amongst the lost. What a privilege to partner with Him alongside this call. Jehova Jira!
We were able to secure the car and drive it back to our compound in Kenya to make sure it was in good running order for the work to come, and believe me there is a lot of work for this car to come! On the long drive home it was realised that the car had some parts that needed replacing from ware and tare, most expensive on the list was the gear box $2500. Ouch. Again we prayed and in only a few days God provided again! This time, even from a young man in Australia ! Wow. We were able to get the parts together and fix it. Now all it needed was a good old fashioned test run. We took the opportunity to try and make the most of this test run.
We were to take Marks family, and all their belongings to to South Sudan to help them move into a brand new house we had build for them on the field - read more on that here -
We were to also take Bwala and his family to South Sudan (Another Kenyan missionary family labouring there)
We also arranged to bring out a qualified teacher, that had missions on his heart to teach all the kids on the compound so that the mothers could be released to start a local primary school, (Another project that we are currently working on in that region)
If you have read our pervious stories you may remember that we had also left our truck in South Sudan to help build the houses. This had been sitting out in the desert for about 6 months and desperately needed to come home for repair and servicing. So it was also an opportunity to bring the Unimog home. (My only concern with this is wether or not we would be able to get it moving to bring it back as there would be no way of fixing it out there.)
If all this wasn’t enough we decided to invite a church planting teacher from Tanzania, who is working with Multiplication Network Ministries, to come and teach the new disciples. Getting them ready to multiply and start a new wave of disciples of their own, so that we can see the entire region reached in the next five years !
We wanted to try and achieve so much because A) We could but also B) To make the greatest use of the finances with visas costing $100 each and the costs of fuel to get there and back + food and accommodation we were already looking at $1000!
We set off with the car fully loaded inside and out (10 people + moving house) for what would be a long and rough 4 day journey. (Held up mainly because of the monsoon weather) At one point at about 4am while most of us were sleeping we were awoken with a start ! The car traveling about 80kmph had lost control and flew off the road into a ditch!!! We bounced up and down, doing a series of small jumps, as the car crashed through water, bushes, a small tree, sending the contents of the car flying around. People were in a frenzy, screaming and shouting, praying for protection, we all saw stars in the sky then water smashing over the car as we hit big puddles, then the sky again, then some bushes. We were so thankful that no one was hurt and the car was ok. Not to lie we were a bit shaken after that, and didn’t sleep from well from that point on.
Arriving at the border we were held up by the weather for 3 days. We had a number of rivers to cross and the monsoon rain had just started, make the road simply impassible, even with the new beefy land cruiser.
3 days later - We had a break in the weather and we took it, fording several small rivers we headed though no mans land, an area rife with bandits and cattle rustlers, not somewhere you want to get stuck! Crawling up a steep muddy hill in first gear, one of the passengers tells us of how he was held at gun point at that very spot not even a month ago, great I thought, how comforting.....
To make it a proper adventure, we got stuck, of corse we did. The tyres were spinning in the deep soft mud, we had not taken the due diligence to learn how to use the winch. Push or pull as we might we couldn’t get out. Many hours later, as always seems to be the case in these parts of the world, a small crowd starts to form (Despite this being no mans land with no-one being allowed to be in the area). After lots of pushing and pulling we were finally able to reverse out. The new tactic to avoid spending the night in no mans land was - SPEED. We drove as fast as could, to get through the wet sticky mud, we bounced and slid off the road a few times. One of the bounces caused half of the luggage to fly off the roof into some deep muddy puddles! But we were through, safely over to the other side. Check out the videos at the bottom and the photos here to get a better idea go what this was all like. #ProperAdventure
As we got closer to the village we were met by a crowed of villagers blocking the road. At first I wasn’t sure if this was a good sign or something to be worried about. But once we came to a stop they started singing and dancing, celebrating our arrival. A goat was slaughtered before us and they marched us the 5km home, the number growing as we got nearer (I have never experienced a welcome quite like it, a testament to the great work Mark and his team are doing there I am sure)
Once we dismissed the village from the front of Marks new house we looked to settle in for the night, first order of business was to kill the scorpions occupying our sleeping quarters. I thought I best set up a tent in the room just to keep creepy crawlys out of my bed, more on this later….
Michael from MNM carried out a great few days of training with the 30 disciples, looking at how they could in tern start to look at how to make new disciples, signs of a healthy and un healthy church, how to start thinking about church planting themselves, going over the bible stories they had learned, giving them time to practice sharing them, seeing what questions came from them as well as good teaching points for the stories. A really great and fruitful time, that worked so well in this unreached, oral culture. Please remember dear reader these are new believers that do not have a bible in their mother tongue. They are illiterate, nomadic herdsmen, that know a very different life to you or I.
Getting into my sleeping bag in the evening I thought I ought to shake it out just incase - and guess what. I am glad I did, because out came a scorpion landing on my mattress. Great I thought sleeping here tonight but relocating to a hammock for the rest of my time there. (The rest of our team always sleeps in or on the car or truck as they have had one to many run ins with snakes and scorpions in there own beds in this area…. Maybe I’ll do that next time.)
After a just a few short days that had already been cut short by our journey in. It was time to think about getting back. Flights were to be caught and life was to carry on. But then is started to rain, and rain and rain. The rivers that we had crossed on the way in, that were already deep had gained another meter or 2 in depth, the roads that were slippery, even more so. It seemed yet again we were going to have to wait to out. To cut a long story short we made it home after a gruelling 3 days driving.
I am glad to be home safe.
Thank you so much for getting behind us in prayer, and supporting us financially, we really can’t do it without your help. Africa unlike growing up in Asia isn’t cheap, as you have read the cost of used cars is often over $20,000 which is bonkers coming from the UK or India. This coming year we have a lot of travel and many more projects coming up, Including hosting a team coming from Switzerland and taking them around Kenya for missions exposer for a month, more trips to Sudan, flights to UK, Germany and Canada. Pray for wisdom that we might be more and better effective in the community we are in and the people we are trying to serve, including finding the time to learn language. If you are in Germany, UK or Canada and would like to see us, do get in touch so we can get things booked in as we would love to see you and share what God is doing here. And if you would like to support us do also get in touch.
These videos were originally taken for instagram - apologies they are potraint not landscape - follow on Instagram to seem them live ;) @JoshuaBRex