South Sudan is one of the newest countries in the world. With the declaration of independence from the predominantly Muslim North Sudan, a civil war began in the south that lasted for several years. The Precept Ministries International mission is one of the few missions that constantly go to this country to train servants, but also to bring a little comfort to those in need. Recently, several Christians returned from South Sudan, where they also served the Sudanese brothers in word and deed.
Vitalie Marian: What was the purpose of the mission trip to South Sudan and what did you manage to accomplish?
Radu Blendarencu, pastor-missionary: The purpose of the mission in South Sudan was to teach the second session of the Inductive Bible Institute “Church Planting”, in which I studied the course Names of God and the book of Acts. This session I was with Gheorghe Moldovanu, who is a graduate of the International Mission School of the Republic of Moldova. I was glad to see the beautiful number of pastors who came to study at this session. Some pastors came with their disciples, which shows that they put into practice what they learned in the first session. In fact, I would like to mention that the session took place in the Borolli refugee camp, which is near the border between South Sudan and Uganda. Why here? Because of the civil war that has engulfed this new country of the world for 3 years, about 2 million South Sudanese have taken refuge in Uganda. There are several hundred thousand more in neighboring countries such as Ethiopia, Chad or Kenya. Obviously, most pastors are in Uganda, because the people of Uganda and South Sudan have a lot in common. I was pleasantly surprised by the attitude of the 44 servants, who forgot about the great poverty in which they live and that they eat only once a day. They eagerly studied and did not cease to thank God for the truths they learned from the Holy Scriptures.
Vitalie Marian: This is not the first visit you have made to this country. Last year you taught a few more Bible studies. How did the pastors apply the knowledge gained?
R.B: That’s right, last year I taught the first session together with David Filat, who is the leader of the Clean Generation youth movement within the “Good News” church in Chisinau. In this way I want to thank my teachers Mia and Costel Oglice who are also the vice-directors of the Global Precept Ministries International Mission and also Mr. Vasile Filat, the director of the Precept Ministries Eurasia Mission for all the training and investment they have made in my life, and the confidence in me to go to this country and teach these sessions. As I answered the first question, some pastors came with their disciples to the session, which shows that they put into practice what they learned in the first session, “Evangelism and Discipleship.” But most of all I was glad to hear that all 44 pastors and deacons who came, only last year in the 9 refugee camps from which they came, planted 100 churches. It is so gratifying and encouraging to see that the great poverty in which they live does not stop them from becoming disciples. I was amazed by the gesture of a pastor who lives near the capital of South Sudan, the city of Juba. To come to the sessions, being in dire need of money, he walked 24 hours.
I wondered: why does God allow such a situation for our brothers, as the next day in the discussions with some leaders I found something interesting. Many tribes live in South Sudan, but 11 of them are the largest. In peacetime it was practically impossible for a Christian from one tribe to go to another tribe other than the one he belongs to to preach the gospel. Whereas now, in just two years, the gospel has been preached to all tribes who, due to the civil war, live together in refugee camps in South Sudan’s neighboring countries. And when God brings peace to Sudan, they will go home as Christians.
Vitalie Marian: What are the living conditions in which our brothers in South Sudan live out their faith?
R.B: It is difficult to describe in words the situation and living conditions of Christians in refugee camps. They sleep on the ground, and a simple film is the whole roof of their house. Being in these camps, the United Nations gives each family 9 kilograms of beans per month for each family member, which makes them eat only once a day. I have seen many malnourished children. Even the pastors and preachers who came to the session were suffering from malaria (an infection transmitted by mosquito bites). I thank the Christians of the “Good News” church in Chisinau so much, who made a donation so that we can buy medicines for these wonderful people. With only $ 1 you can save a life, but for them this is a huge amount. Most people don’t remember when they last ate a piece of bread. I know it sounds weird, but that’s the way it is. From the money donated by other churches, we managed to buy a small loaf of bread for the ministers every day. They ate bread and wept for joy, but some gathered a piece to take home for their families. Most South Sudanese would like to work, but as refugees and having refugee status, no one hires them to work. All we can do is pray for this situation so that they can return to their homes one day.
Vitalie Marian: When is a new trip planned and how could the newspaper’s readers practically contribute to the needs of Christians in Sudan?
R.B: The next session will take place on June 5-15, where we will study the Marriage Without Regrets course. The most expensive is the travel of the teacher who goes to them, but also the whole process of preparing Bible study textbooks. We will need to take 100 inductive Bible study books with us. Obviously, we intend to help the ministers who will come with medicines this time as well. Any help is highly valued. We pray that God will lead people and churches who will want to contribute to the mission in South Sudan that will take place in early June.
And at the end I want to thank once again the mission of Precept Ministries, the “Good News” church, then the Christian church in Istanbul (Turkey), which contributed to this beautiful work.
Vitalie Marian: Thank you very much for the interview!
Translated by Didina Vicliuc