Author: Beth
•Friday, July 30, 2010
Hello dear friends,

As I write to you, a golden sunset is just disappearing across the western sky. Nearby, cows are bellowing in low tones, and the sounds of the night are starting up their calming chorus. My hands and face are bearing tell-tale signs of plenty of African sunshine, and I’m breathing a sigh of contentment after a full day here in Sudan. 

The calendar says that we are well into our fourth week here. I was writing a date in my journal the other day and stared at it for a few moments – it’s hard to believe that it’s the end of July and exactly a month since we left the States! At the team meeting last night, Laurie and I were remarking at how “normal” it feels here – which is a testimony of God’s continuing grace and many prayers on our behalf. We are so grateful. 

As I was thinking about what I could write to you this week, the theme that has come to mind several times is BUILDING. 

Perhaps it is on my mind because we built a house today. 

Well, more accurately, we *helped* Daniel Faris and Lual (the day guard) screw together the sheet metal for a tin house on the compound – in preparation for some upcoming guests in the next few weeks and months. The walls are now standing tall and the roof awaits its completion tomorrow! But still, for someone who hasn’t had too much experience in the construction department, even passing screws and wielding wrenches gave me a sense of achievement. 

Now, a nice round dwelling stands glistening in the evening sun, and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the different kinds of building that I’ve witnessed going on this week. A few afternoons have been dedicated towards various “home improvement” projects – like tying grass mats (jargonia) to the newly constructed fence, cementing posts in the ground for Julie’s laundry line, or helping with the construction of new house shutters for the Wards. It has been quite fun to get “our hands dirty” in some small ways to help with the settling-in process. 

However, tin huts and fence posts aren’t the only things that have been building around here lately.

Yesterday, Daniel took us over to a nearby village to witness some deacon training in one of the churches. We’ve been hearing about the discipleship work that Vince has been doing with the pastors. Also, earlier this week found us listening to one of our newfound friends, Achol, read from her Dinka Bible and discussing spiritual things with her. Being able to see some of these things firsthand has reminded me that God is continuing to build in the hearts and lives of people here in His own ways and time. What a blessing it is to see His Kingdom continue to expand in this vastly different corner of His globe!

As Laurie and I can both attest, God is also continuing to do a building work deep within our own hearts. We can wait on Him, joyfully confident that He is faithful to complete His work.

In His Strength,

[reposted from 73 Days of Rain
Author: Beth
•Friday, July 23, 2010

The warm evening sun beckoned me out for a brief walk before dinner. In the distance, I could hear the buzz of voices coming from the community well. The small crowd of women looked up as I approached, and curious dark eyes matched my own. I was interested to see more of this daily chore of Dinka life, and they were equally as interested in the strange white girl who found such fascination in an ordinary thing.

I watched for awhile as the women took turns filling their yellow gerry cans with the clear water. Young girls were systematically pumping the long metal handle, using their weight as leverage and jumping up and down along with the motion. One lady laughed and motioned for me to try. I could feel the tension of the water as I pumped, and my inexperienced hands only brought out a rather haphazard trickle from the tap (much to the amusement of my audience.) When the 20 liter cans were topped with water, the women would lift them onto their heads in one swift motion and balance them effortlessly. As I waved goodbye to the newfound friends at the well and continued on my walk, I thought more about this necessity of fresh water that helped the community to thrive. Even more than that, I was reminded of the work of the gospel here that quenches the thirst of the soul. 


It has been such a blessing to see how the team here has dedicated themselves to this gospel. I have learned so much from them so far, from both watching their daily lives and also hearing the stories of how God has built up this ministry in Sudan. Although we have only been here two weeks, we have been privileged to take part in some small ways – especially seeing the fruit of the team’s long-term labors in our own short-term endeavors. We had the opportunity to do some English work with two pastors-in-training here on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. We spent an afternoon with Peter and Ajo on Monday, helping them with sermon preparations and discussing several Bible passages to answer their questions. It was tremendously encouraging to talk in our own native language and be part (in a very small way) of the gospel going forth in the surrounding churches. To me, that was a celebration of the Lord’s work thorough the faithful service of the mentors who have invested in these men’s lives for such a long time.

Yesterday (Thursday), we were also privileged to be part of the “Grand Opening” ceremony for Weer Bei, the radio station that transmits a gospel message to thousands of listeners in this area. Cush4Christ has partnered with this ministry since the very beginning, and the majority of it is made possible through the work of Scott, Vince, John (pastor) and Carlo (pastor). Although they have been on the air for several months already, the “official” ceremony took place - complete with dedication speeches, singing, preaching, and a “ribbon” cutting. Quite a day! It was likewise a great celebration of God’s work through the faithful service of these men who have been dedicated to the gospel message.

These two events this week reminded me of the beauty and refreshment of Living Water upon the souls of people. It has also reminded me to be dwelling on this gospel and its glorious meaning for my own life. 

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support as we settled into a varied schedule here. Every day has seemed to provide us with new experiences, new faces, new encounters, and new grace, while still allowing us to be part of the daily routine of the team. I have learned so much about missionary life and greatly look forward to what God has in store for the next six weeks. 

Wherever you are, it is my prayer that you will stay encouraged and treasure this glorious gospel in your daily life as well. It is truly worth everything. 

“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13-14

Rejoicing in Sudan,

[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]
Author: Beth
•Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The thunder rumbled in the distance. Eagerly, all of us looked up from where we were gathered for prayer, as the wind suddenly picked up and whistled around the house. The strong, envigorating winds blew dust in swirling hordes as the dark clouds promised something more. 


The kids squealed in excitement as the first droplets came. As we danced around in the rain, feeling the wet spray on our faces, I could almost feel the invigorating refreshment that it was bringing to this thirsty land. Laurie and I have ended our first entire week here in the Sudan, and I just have to smile at how God sent this little rainstorm as a celebration of His continuing grace. A few minutes ago, as I made my way through the little winding dirt paths to our little bai (and shooing away the cows and goats off the front doorstep), I began to think about all the ways that God has shown us His grace this past week, and they are really too numerous to count.

One common theme that I’ve been noticing is that God tends to show me particular things about Himself as I move forward – walking one step at a time. So, here are a few places that I’ve walked this week and some glimpses of Himself that He has shown along the way.

I saw His gift of life this week as we walked around the village in prayer on Friday, and stopped in to visit a newborn baby who had been born a few hours before. The precious dark tiny face looking up at his mother reminded me in a particular way of how God sustains life here and holds all of His children securely within His hand. This is grace.

I saw His gift of community this week as we walked into neighbor huts with some of the team members and greeted people with our broken Dinka. After only a week of being here, we confess that our conversational language still relies heavily on patient translators and hand motions, but we have greatly enjoyed being a source of amusement as we learn from one another. As faces become more familiar, names stick a little easier, and the “light bulbs” of understanding turn on a little quicker, we see God drawing people and forming relationships. This is grace.

I saw His gift of the gospel as we walked out of the Weer Bei radio station, after seeing the first Saturday night radio program hit the air. This Christian radio station, which is connected with the Cush4Christ ministry here, reaches a 60-mile radius in all directions and has approximately 20,000 listeners. I am so encouraged by the dedication of the men here who organize the programs, and even more thrilled to see God working in such a powerful way to bring His message to this oral culture. This too, is grace

I saw His gift of worship as we walked to God’s house here in Sudan – a grass mat enclosure with branches for pews and a tarp for the roof – and listened to the voices of these saints raised in psalms of prayer. Although I only understood a word or two, it was a beautiful sight to see these people here worshipping the true God from their heart. It reminded me of the people back home who were doing the same thing around the globe on the Lord’s Day. This is grace.

And yes, I saw His gift of security as we walked throughout our days (and nights even). I just have to say that the necessary walks in the dark are still a little unnerving – even with the trusty flashlight. However, as I was walking back from my shower last night, I just had to smile at the confidence that had come to my step (for me, that is saying kinda a lot – especially with all the sticks on the ground that look like snakes in the dark!) *smile* Praise God for His protection, and yes, even if I do encounter one of those reptiles one of these days, I’m sure there is grace enough for that too. 

Finally, tonight, I saw His gift of joy as I walked back in the rain. The adjustments to this culture have been rather easy thus far (mostly thanks to the wonderful team members here who have patiently taught us so much!) but there is still that daily need to choose joy wherever I am. I just love those moments when it just can’t help but bubble up inside and spill over. That is a gracious gift from God as well. 

Anyway, I thought a few of these things would make you smile too – and hopefully bring to mind ways that God has shown you grace in your lives today as you walk forward into what He has called you. 

Thank you all SO much for your many emails! They are extremely appreciated and we are very grateful for the links of love that connect us to home. I continually thank God for all of you and look forward to responding as the time permits. Know that you all are being thought of and prayed for under this African sky. *smile*

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; His going out is as sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains water the earth…” – Hosea 6:3


[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]
Author: Beth
•Thursday, July 08, 2010

Hello everyone! 

We send you love and good wishes from a little round hut in Southern Sudan! The sun has just gone down on our first full day on this missionfield, and I am currently sitting under its thatched roof, listening to the sounds of the evening – some crickets, an occasional drumming, some soft singing in the distance (Daniel and Natalie having family worship), and the typing on this tiny computer (that last one kinda spoils the night atmosphere, but I’m thankful for it nonetheless!) I have just returned from a nice envigorating shower under the stars, and await another peaceful night’s sleep before another busy day!

So much has happened in the last few days that it would be rather difficult to sum it all up in one small update. However, I thought I would share with you a short snippet from my journal – my faithful companion that has kept a few of the many memories.

On the MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) airplane, somewhere in between Nairobi and Aweil:

“Right now, as my family and friends back in America are just waking up to start a new day, I am getting ready to set foot on a new missionfield. The small white plane is maneuvering through some fluffy white clouds as we head towards Aweil. Below, I can see a sprinkling of brush and some sparse greenery with an occasional dirt road snaking into the distance. Occasionally, a small cluster of thatched or tin roofs appear, but that is the only sign of civilization below. My heart has been singing words from Psalm 108: God, my heart is steadfast, I will sing your praises…Lord, among the peoples [the Dinka, specifically] I will sing your praises. And from among the nations [right now, it’s Sudan] my praise to You will rise. For your lovingkindness extends is above the heavens, Your faithfulness extends into the skies.” Lord, you have been gracious to give me a steadfast heart, and I am learning to let go and lay my burdens down – and just worship with my whole heart. Your lovingkindness and faithfulness go before me into this new land – it is even up here in the skies! May your glory be lifted above all the earth, Jesus!”
Those words were written just a few moments before God, in His faithfulness, brought us safely to the ground and we stepped out to feel the warm sunshine on our faces. Little adorable black children, with brilliant smiles and curious eyes, cautiously crept towards the plane with murmurs of “Kawaja!” (White person!) on their lips. We were met at the landing strip by Scott (one faithful missionary who is heading off for his furlough) and Daniel, the latter of whom whisked us away to our new “home away from home” – a cheery little hut that has been tastefully decorated by its previous occupant (thanks, Heather!) We have now settled in quite nicely, and the Wards are making fast progress to settle into their new home as well.

There are so many new sights, sounds, voices, and experiences that have stretched and grown our souls and senses in the last 24 hours…. like making friends with a few (more like a dozen) local children, finding a donkey in the church building, writing stories with the kids, expanding our Dinka conversational vocabulary (slooowly, but surely!), good long conversations around the dinner table, seeing the amazing stars that light up the night sky. We’ve also christened our resident mouse in the roof with the name “Remi” and have had only one snake sighting so far (and yes, I am quite thankful about that!) I’m sure more words and adventures will follow from this little hut here at Cush4Christ, but for now, I must close.

 Thank you all for your faithful prayers and support from afar. We have been so blessed by your encouragements and have seen God answer your prayers with His daily grace in ways far beyond what we can express. 

Secure in His Grip,
Beth (for the both of us!)

[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]
Author: Beth
•Monday, July 05, 2010
Greetings from wintry Nairobi! The rooster that cheerily wakes us up every morning seems to be the only one not affected by the chilly air that we’ve experienced while here. The Kenyans have been walking around in scarves, hats, and jackets in this chilling, frigid, 50 degree weather. *smile* In spite of the rather brisk evening outside, however, we still enjoyed ice cream sundaes provided by our gracious hosts (the Morads) in honor of our last evening in Kenya.

This past Lord’s Day, we were reminded of some of the universal truths that transcend the thousands of miles between us and the places we call home as we celebrated a few special things along with the people back home.

Laurie & Amina after the Kenyan worship service
WORSHIP: I have never ceased to be amazed at how beautifully and uniquely people can worship our God from the heart, regardless of the country. Today was no exception as we worshipped at a local Kenyan Presbyterian Church and were warmly welcomed by new brothers and sisters. In the afternoon, while our small team (Laurie, Beth, and the Wards) spent time in prayer and worship, I was thinking about how my family and friends would be heading to their own houses of worship in a few hour--and how beautiful it must be for God to look down and see people from every tribe and nation lifting their voices to Him. What a GLORIOUS thing heaven will be, when we are ALL together in one place, finally able to worship purely and completely!


FREEDOM: While many of you back home were enjoying picnics and fireworks for the 4th of July, we were having our own celebration—not just for Independence Day but also for Canada Day (July 1st) that the Wards had not celebrated yet! Samuel and Zakari made country flags, and we celebrated by singing our respective national anthems, enjoying a smorgasbord dinner, and sharing things that we are grateful for in our countries. Despite the good-natured Canadian and American rivalry here (lol), we are truly grateful for the way God has blessed our countries and the freedoms that we have. And we admit that despite our American blood, Laurie and I have caught ourselves saying “eh?” several times already.

Chameleons provided fun entertainment one afternoon!

Today (Monday) has been a packing day, as we all gear up to fly to the Sudan early tomorrow morning. The kids have been telling us about all the fun things they do back at “home” and we are excited to be joining and learning from them. We are also looking forward to meeting Daniel, Natalie, and little Samuel Faris – the family who is already on the field. As we have anticipated our departure date, we have been spending much time in prayer together, and we are so grateful for you all joining us in lifting this before our Savior’s throne. Please pray that:

Our 8 hr charter flight (with 2 stops included) will go without incident—and that no one will get plane sick!

God will grant us the flexibility, grace, and joy needed for the interesting changes ahead as we adjust to a new culture and ministry

God will continue to grant wisdom and strength to Vince and Julie as they lead the team and settle back into their ministry responsibilities

Good health for each of us daily

Thank you for the encouraging emails and prayers that we have already received. May God continue to bless each of you with His strength and grace for the ministry set before you, knowing that we are all co-laborers in His Kingdom! We love you all and look forward to sharing more of God’s grace with you in the future.

[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]
Author: Beth
•Sunday, July 04, 2010
Happy Independence Day (July 4) and Canada Day (July 1) from your friends in Africa!

[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]
Author: Beth
•Friday, July 02, 2010
We have now set foot on African soil! Thank you all so much for your prayers as we travel to this side of the globe. God has truly been gracious, and we arrived safe and sound – with all of our luggage, and even a few hours of sleep behind us!

Whenever a new adventure begins, the “first impressions” are always ones that stick out in my memory. The first glimpses of this beautiful country came from the airplane window as we descended into Nairobi. After a long all-night flight, one often looks out – eager to see something other than pitch black darkness. At long last, just as we were descending into the clouds, a fine streak of golden sunshine could be seen on the horizon. It was a welcome sight!
As the plane gradually dropped, we could see the sparkling lights of the city down below. Alas, the cloudy sky prevented the city from the rays of the glorious morning sun that had been shining above the clouds. As we landed though, the memory of the sunlight caused me to smile. It just reminded me that God is always present, even when it is hard to see. His providential works are behind every circumstance, and we can smile knowing that He sees beyond the clouds – and can see how all things work together for good!
God’s providence has certainly brought a smile to our faces, even in the few hours that we have been in Africa thus far.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: We praise God for giving Laurie the opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a college student named, Rilke (“Rilk-ah”) on the plane flight. Please pray that God will the conversation to plant the seeds of hope, peace, and direction that Rilke is longing for. Rilke had lots of searching questions like “who is Jesus Christ” and “what is the Trinity”? She has a genuine desire to believe in God, but her biggest wall is that she sees herself as an anthropologist who views God as a creation of societies of men. Laurie gave Rilke her travel Bible and they were able to exchange contact information in hopes of planting further seeds.

We are now settled into our host home and are enjoying getting to know the Ward family. The children especially have already woven their way into our hearts, with some good romps on the grass, a few rousing “sword-fights”, and lots of hugs! Samuel (6), Zakari (4), and Amina (2) are going to be fun companions. We are so grateful for the way that Vince and Julie have already opened their hearts to us, as well as the Morad family (our host home for our few days here in Kenya) and look forward to working alongside of these saints in the weeks to come.

[reposted from 73 Days of Rain]