By: Ann Rao, RN
BACK TO SCHOOL IN SOUTH SUDAN
The United Nations has called the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan “the worst in the world”. More than one million internally displaced people are without food, water and shelter. Education is suffering, but it is a lesser priority than the basic survival needs. Yet Living Water Primary and Abundant Life Primary, two schools operated by Akot Christian Ministries, continue to function normally. Morning prayers, a nutritious meal and a full academic schedule, including Christian Religious Education, make up the daily routine.
There is a notable feeling of positive energy upon entering the gates of each school compound. The children and the teachers are very eager to brag about their schools. A family atmosphere of love, acceptance and security is promoted in ACM schools. Our goal is to transform a community, and ultimately a nation, by developing leaders who are disciples of Christ.
ACM has added a grade level each year at both schools. This year, our eighth year, we will have our first graduates from Living Water Primary. Very few children graduate from primary school in South Sudan (less than 2%). Though we have no permanent building, ACM schools are considered the best in Lakes State.
The school year begins in South Sudan in February and ends in December. In July the students took a final exam which is required by the government. Despite the two month delayed start date, Akot Christian Ministries proudly announced that all 644 students passed the exam. We are very proud of our students and teachers for their great effort to persevere. We appreciate the support of the PTA, the parents, and the community of Akot.
God has blessed the people of Akot through your prayers and financial support. We plan to begin the construction of our first school building at Living Water Primary before the end of the year. We desperately need your continued support. Investing in the children of South Sudan is a good investment with eternal benefits. “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.” Proverbs 19:17
AKOT, SOUTH SUDAN 2014
By: Dr. Raymond Lyrene
I was privileged to travel to Akot, South Sudan in early July, 2014 to assess the ministries provided by Living Water Community Transformation (LWCT). As the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan has been plagued by conflict, governmental instability, recurrent famine and a failing economy. South Sudan now tops the list of the world’s most fragile nations.
Despite this gloomy situation, we were delighted to see the ministries in Akot moving forward. We have tremendous, mature, committed indigenous leadership on the ground in Akot. Through the power of the Holy Spirit they have weathered the difficult challenges facing the ministries. Although there was a two month delay in starting school because of the recent conflict and tribal fighting, school is now in session and moving forward. There are now 644 students in our two Christian primary schools, and our schools are the only elementary schools within many miles that are open. It was wonderful to observe the enthusiasm of our students and to witness how much they are learning about the love of God.
The women’s ministries are thriving with over 100 women enrolled. Each of the women knows in excess of 100 Bible stories and can present them in chronological order. They are learning life skills and better health practices. Two new women’s groups are forming this year, the first of these is 15 miles from Akot and the second is in the village of Paloc 20 miles away where many refugees have settled. You can see how the gospel is spreading among the women. We visited the refugees in Paloc where our ministry was able to help by distributing seeds for their gardens, fishing supplies and tarps for protection from sun and rain.
The pastor training and church planting is likewise moving forward. The first covered worship center is now under construction with the hope that all of our Bible storying centers will follow suit to offer protection from the sun and rain during worship. The leader of the pastor training, Peter, is now in Bible College and will be returning at the completion of his education to lead this important ministry. Two churches were started this year and already one of them has a weekly attendance of over 100.
We are starting a new agricultural ministry in Akot to assist the community in raising more food and a better variety of food in order to avoid the recurrent famine that plagues the area. We now have a 12 acre farm protected by security fencing. We have a large bore well on the property to supply water for irrigation. The first crops are being planted and cultivated this year.
Despite what looks like a hopeless situation, the Holy Spirit is doing a mighty work in Akot. The influence of the gospel is evident everywhere. This situation reminds us of the truth that nothing is impossible with God. We covet your prayers for this important ministry. Each man, woman and child in Akot is created in God’s image and He desires a personal relationship with each of them. Christ never said it would be easy to follow Him. Nevertheless, He calls us to be obedient.
LIVING WATER HELPS THE DISPLACED
Last Spring 500-600 families fled Akot after an inter-clan clash. They walked for many hours with only what they could carry. Without shelter, food or a clean water source, the displaced people needed help. LWCT provided a deep water well, 600 tarpaulins, vegetable seeds, soap and fishing supplies. The area is remote and we wondered how we would find our people deep in the bush. It was easy, the blue tarps could be seen from far away. ACM pastors have been ministering to them weekly.
Living Water Community Transformation is known as Akot Christian Ministries in South Sudan. This ministry includes preventative health teaching, primary education, church planting/pastor development, empowerment of women, agriculture and commerce. Seven wells have been strategically placed to facilitate these ministries.
There are two wells at each Primary school, Living Water and Abundant Life. The Women’s Ministry groups, men’s discipleship group and pastor training classes meet at the school campuses. The communities near the schools are also allowed to obtain water from the school wells at designated times.
A well was dug this year for our new farming ministry. The farm is 12 acres in size and will be used to produce food for the schools. Also, the community will have small plots to learn better farming skills and to cultivate new crops. We plan to use this well for irrigation and for use for the neighboring families. A
cyclic pattern of food shortage occurs every dry season. July is known as “the month of hunger”.
Paloc is an area to which 500-600 families fled after an outbreak of violence against their sub-clan, the Panyar. (This was perpetrated by another sub-clan known as the Nuyei from Akot.) They fled with only what they could carry. They had no shelter, food and no water supply. The people were forced to drink from mud puddles. Living Water Community Transformation drilled a borehole to provide clean water. We also provided 600 plastic tarps to be used for shelters, vegetable seeds, and fishing supplies (there is a swamp located approximately 3 hours walk away). This well is located near one of the 2 new churches started as a result of the displacement of these families from Akot. We expect a new Women’s Ministry to begin soon at this location.
A seventh well was drilled at Atiaba Baptist Church in Atiaba. Associate Director of ACM, Isaac Bol, has begun teaching pastors from both Akot and Paloc at his church. Atiaba is between the two warring communities. It is considered a safe location for pastors to come together from both of the areas in conflict
with each other. The newest Women’s Ministry will begin at this church in Atiaba. Isaac’s wife, Deborah, will lead this group. The people of Atiaba Baptist recently built their own shelter for their congregation of approximately 150 people.
“WOMEN OF HOPE” WOMEN’S MINISTRY
The Women’s Ministry of ACM, led by indigenous Director Rose Paul, continues to flourish. In 2008 the ministry began with one group of 20 women in Akot. A second group of women from Akot began meeting in 2010. In 2012 a third group of women was formed for the women in Malual, a community located 2 miles from Akot. A fourth group of women will begin this fall in Atiaba, a community 9 miles from Akot.
Deborah Akol and Rebecca Ding lead sewing classes. Deborah will begin leading the new women’s group in Atiaba this fall. These two women are pastors’ wives.
Two other leaders from the women’s group are Elizabeth Adut and Monika Agaar. They lead the daily morning devotions at Living Water and Abundant Life primary schools.
All members of the Women’s Ministry complete a course of health lessons before beginning vocational training and small businesses. Five women have been trained to repair water pumps, and 15 are trained as tailors. The sewing ladies make the school uniforms for our children, as well as clothing to sell in the market. The two women’s groups have a large garden that they cultivate cooperatively. Many of the women are currently participating in a goat rearing business. They are personally compensated by being able to keep half of the offspring. The other half are sold. All proceeds are used to sustain the Women’s Ministry. Several women have been trained in small business and simple accounting.
The women have formed a very strong cohesive bond which transcends all divisive clan issues. They have many stories of miracles and answered prayers. They have made up songs and dances for many of the Bible stories and for their health lessons. Their songs are played on the secular radio station in the state capital, Rumbek. Though Akot recently experienced violence between two sub-clans, the Women’s Ministry did not miss a meeting. In fact they gathered more often for prayer. The displaced women from Women of Hope are starting a fifth group in Paloc, the area in which they now reside.
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE SCHOOLS MINISTRY?
By: Ruth Reilly, Ed.S
Both schools opened in April, two months later than expected due to the civil insurgency. The combined enrollment for both schools is 644. The school calendar was redesigned with two terms rather than three due to a reduction in number of student days. A new Interim Director of Schools, Reverend Gabriel Amat Paweer was hired along with 10 new teachers. Teachers were hired using a consistent interview/testing protocol to assure high quality selection of staff. All teachers and school staff signed the School Staff Agreement which outlined expectations and responsibilities for their employment. New Class size guidelines were implemented so that all classes have 50 or fewer students. Textbooks are provided to all students at a ratio of 2 students to 1 textbook. Gideon Bibles are utilized in Christian Religious Education (CRE) classes for students in levels 4, 5 and 6. A Parent Teacher Organization was formed in May and is scheduled to meet monthly. All students and staff receive a free lunch daily. Students participate in a daily morning devotional and receive instruction in Christian Religious Education.
UPDATED NUMBERS ABOUT SCHOOL MINISTRY
- Two primary schools:
Living Water (LWP): Level 1-8
Abundant Life Primary (ALP): Level 1-7
LWP-294 (184 boys, 110 girls)
ALP-350 (241 boys, 109 girls)
- Faculty: LWP (9 teachers – 5 returning, 4 new)
ALP (9 teachers – 3 returning, 6 new)