Transforming Culture by Tangibly Showing Christ’s Love
By the time we walked from the airfield to the ACM/ALP Compound, I was dripping with sweat. Afternoon temperatures of 107 are not unusual in March. The 4-classroom school building, built in 2017, stood in stark contrast to the thatched roofed structures still used for grades 1-4. Indoor classes with desks, instead of open air classes with benches, will allow class to continue during the downpours common during the rainy season … a huge improvement for the students, eager to learn.
My assignment for the week was to prepare for the installation of solar power for the compound in June. With no electric grid to connect to within hundreds of miles, the school and ACM ministry has been dependent on an old generator, run a couple of hours per day, to pump water into the water tank and charge cellphones and computers. They also received assistance from 2 other NGO’s in Akot for charging devices and for internet access. With fuel extremely expensive and in short supply, and the stuttering of one NGO and scaling back of the other, another solution was sorely needed.
The biggest challenge of the week was to dig a trench, 18 inches deep, from the school building to the water tower, to the sewing building and to the container building, to lay the wire for the electricity. The run to the water tower alone was almost 400 feet, so this was the object of fervent prayer.
Now it is important to note that the the Dinka culture, men don’t do a lot of work. They sit around in the shade and talk a lot while the women work. When they do work, they expect to be paid, while the women will work for nothing if it is something that benefits the community. So we were uncertain we could get the help we needed to dig the trench.
On Friday afternoon, we told the director of the school that we needed all the teachers and the older students to come on Saturday morning at 7am to dig the trench. We had no idea whether anyone would show up. By 7:30am, there were around 15 people there, and by 8am, we had around 30 that had come to did the trench. By Monday afternoon, we had all the trenches dug, the wire laid, and the trenches filled in.
When we asked the director what he said to the teachers and students to get them to come, He said, “I told them that this system wasn’t for you, that it was for them. This is our school and we need to help.” As we reflected on this amazing accomplishment later, we realized that our Christian work ethic, and Christ working in the lives of these teachers and students, is overcoming cultural norms in Akot … to the Glory of God.