Hey everyone! It’s Sarah here, one of the seven team members sent to South Sudan from May 26-June 7.
The Darfur Team: John, Thomas, Candace, Sarah (Me), Jake, Evan, and Addison.
This trip was so rich: traveling to so many beautiful new places, meeting so many people who invited us in as their own, and having numerous “first” experiences, all in the company of Jesus and this great team.
We started our journey in the town of Aweil, showing the Jesus Film and sharing the Gospel that first night. Hundreds of people showed up to see the film and hear the Gospel. We then traveled the next day to Akuak Rak, which would serve as our base for most of the trip.
Upon arriving to Akuak Rak, we met with the Evangelism Team. During our first day in Akuak Rak, we had a time of teaching and sweet fellowship with them, and we met the leaders of the Rezeigat to plan the next leg of our trip.
Addison praying with the Evangelism Team.
The Rezeigat, also known as the Janjaweed, are a Muslim tribe that migrates from Darfur, Sudan during rainy season. ATC has been building relationships with them the last few years, as God has been working reconciliation in South Sudan. Years ago, the Janjaweed had come through and killed many of the Dinka Christians for cattle. Yet, in the last few years, the Dinka Christians have been going to the Janjaweed as men and women of peace to preach the Good News of Jesus to them.
John and the Evangelism Team distributing medication to Janjaweed families.
On this trip, our team joined the Dinka Evangelism Team and camped out with the Janjaweed in the bush for two days. There we showed the Jesus Film, shared the Good News of Jesus, and brought medication for families and their cattle. Upon returning from the bush, our team continued showing the Jesus Film and preaching the Gospel in Akuak Rak and again in Aweil. During the course of our trip, thousands of people came out to hear and see the Good News through the showing of the Jesus Film and preaching of the Gospel each night.
And as I went on this journey with six other young adults, God took me on my own journey with Him. As I was adventuring in South Sudan, God landed me in the story of Mary and Martha:
“[Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
"Restless" and "worrisome" are words that have historically described me. I have always resonated with Martha in this passage. “Jesus there is so much to do. There is so much need in the world. Why is Mary just sitting there?”
The Father humbled me to be seated at His feet. God sent me across the world to South Sudan to sit. To sit at Jesus’ feet and encounter His love in the people around me.
I initially wrestled with God so much while there. “God I did not ask people to support me to go across the globe to do nothing. I have to DO something with this opportunity.”
And God just spoke to me, “Have a seat. You’re going to learn what the BEST thing is.”
So I sat a lot with the people there. I drank a lot of tea. I went on walks to the river. I played some soccer with the kids. I had an impromptu dance party with the girls in the village. I made it my aim to learn all the patty-cake games. I just sat with this village and received so much love, and by receiving, I was loving.
Me posing with some of the girls in Akauk Rak.
But when our team went into the bush to camp with the Janjaweed, my struggle against performance began to rear its ugly head again. I initially felt uncomfortable with where to sit or if I was even supposed to sit as a woman in that cultural context.
And so I wrestled with God again. This was the purpose of the trip, to preach the good news to the Janjaweed. And I felt incapacitated to do that one thing. So God seated me outside of the circle of men to pray and intercede. To pray as the Janjaweed prayed to Mecca. To pray as John preached the Gospel. To pray as they watched the Jesus Film. At one point, God led me to awkwardly sing to Him behind the camp watching the film. In that moment, God showed me that I had come to the bush just to be with Him. To sit with Jesus there and to feel His love for the Janjaweed.
And man, does God love the Janjaweed!
Toward the end of our trip, a local pastor from the area came to welcome us to the village. What he said was powerful. He told us that the relationships that ATC had formed with the people of South Sudan over the years had transformed the people there. He told us that the people in South Sudan were once angry, but were now are a people of hope because they were not forgotten. God’s love is radically transforming the culture there through relationships.
Providing aid and resources had its place on our trip, as we brought and distributed medication and supplies. And yet those things only served as a vehicle for the relationship, and relationships transform. Relationships truly are the best thing.
So not without a fight, I took a seat. I sat and listened to God’s heart among the people there, and I was changed.
Darfur Team Member, Sarah Graninger
Sarah Graninger (on the left) thought her window of opportunity had ended and that working a more demanding “adult” job would prevent her from being sent to other nations—until God opened doors for her to travel to Darfur with Answering the Call. When asked what she was most looking forward to, she said, “Seeing the Gospel boldly lived out by my brothers and sisters in South Sudan.”