Over 2 million South Sudanese have fled their homes due to violent fighting, and 4.8 million people are facing food shortage. Civil war is creating havoc for the newest nation. Yet The community of Akot continues to experience peace. Thankfully there has been no fighting in Akot.
There have been some challenges as a result of the chaotic political situation, but our ministry has been able to continue to flourish. For example there is a severe lack of food, fuel, and there are no US dollars available at the bank for withdrawal. However, the churches are definitely on the offense and growing, despite the problems.
Church/Pastor Development is the cornerstone for the other 3 ministry areas of Akot Christian Ministries (Primary Schools, Women’s Ministry and Agribusiness). Our pastors and church leaders are not paid to lead their churches. However, several are employed by ACM as teachers, chaplains, driver, farm worker, and administrators. All of them must raise enough food in their family garden to feed their families. Somehow they find time to attend the pastor training twice a week. These men meet frequently to pray and encourage one another.
Pastors and church leaders have a very important role in the community. They minister to the sick and bereaved, They keep watch over all of the people in their area, assessing the needs and assisting with food distribution to the destitute when possible. These shepherds also help the women’s ministry Bible teachers keep their Bible stories accurate, by reviewing the stories with them weekly. (Women are unable to read, as traditionally they have not been allowed to attend school. Of our 700 women, only 1 can read. We are in the process of changing this number, by encouraging girls to start and complete their education.)
As a result of the nation’s severe shortage of food, several of the pastors worked together to start church farms this year. With the help of a US donor matching the funds they could raise, several oxen teams were purchased. One church successfully planted 14 feddans with vegetables and grains (1.038 feddans=1acre).
Our churches have never had buildings. They have always met under large shade trees. This past spring, Panjiei Baptist Church completed the first church building. This was also accomplished through a matching funds arrangement. The church members of Panjiei Baptist made all of the bricks themselves by hand.
We are very pleased with our pastors and church leaders, who are Akot’s “good soldiers of Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:3. They are real “peace keepers” in South Sudan.
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14
I think He is speaking those words to the pastors and church leaders in Akot.