When I arrived here in Sudan, Iris Ministries had a base with 80 children and 5 kids in community care. Within the first week, we had brought home another little girl to live with us, and had received infant twins into our community care program. Not shabby for one week, eh? But, we’re not here to tally up children.
We’re here to see God take the broken, rejected, spiritual and physical orphans of Sudan and receive them into His house. There they find a Love that gently illuminates the dark and hurting places in their souls, bringing healing and wholeness as they are unconditionally accepted into the family of God as His very own treasured sons and daughters. Oh, Jesus! Thank you for bringing us home to Daddy!
Also in that first week, we opened a well in the village of Logo. The people there, who had been cursing Iris Ministries, witnessed God’s love expressed to them in a very tangible way. We witnessed the heart change as words of cursing turned to words of blessing!
Lesson: Come in the opposite spirit. When people hate you, love them. When people hurt you, help them. When people reject you, accept them. If it sounds upside down, well, it is. That is the Kingdom, my friends. (Matthew 5:10-12)
A week of village outreaches! God first took us to Ombasi, not far from the Congolese border and the historic base of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army. There was definitely spiritual opposition in that place, but our mighty God showed up, healing two deaf people and a blind girl! Many there put their trust in Jesus!
The next morning, we went to Morasak and watched God open more doors. We were welcomed by the local government with open arms. The leaders even came to our meeting to receive prayer! We saw salvations and healings and joy break forth! PRAISE YOU, JESUS!
The day after that, we were proclaiming the love of Jesus in the market of Payawa. Michele preached on what it meant to be a son or daughter of our heavenly Father, and we watched Father show up to demonstrate his love in action.
Lesson: Father loves so much more than we do. Knowing that, all we have to do is step out in faith and declare His love. He will show up to do the rest. If we know He loves, why do we fear? Perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).
A slower week, where God began stirring an idea in our hearts in response to the prayer, “Lord, how do we follow up with the new believers?”
Michele and Pastor John decided to invite some of the new believers to come receive a weekend of discipleship. After a wild brainstorming session with Jesus, The Journey Weekends were born.
The basic idea was that new believers come spend a weekend receiving intensive discipleship, return home, ask Holy Spirit to guide their Bible reading, practically apply what they’ve learned, and come back in a few weeks for the next dose of concentrated spiritual formation!
Lesson: We don’t need to strategize. We just need to listen. We do what we hear Him say, and we learn to hear Him better as we go. (John 5:19-21, John 6:63)
We held the first Journey Weekend! Seventeen believers joined us, drawn by a message of God’s love and hungry to know the Jesus who heals.
Michele taught that we humans were made for relationship with God, but sinned by choosing to seek knowledge about that relationship instead of life within it.
She shared about the finality of the cross – and how everything was totally and completely finished – paid in full – not just for taking our sin, but also our shame and guilt and voicelessness and sickness and suffering… the list goes on and on… if it is not of God, Jesus already took it on Himself to buy our freedom! WHAT LOVE! The students took time to surrender to God the things that they had been holding back. He already paid for it, so why do we hold onto it, like a kid playing with trash at an amusement park?
She shared about the Holy Spirit, and how His fullness in us makes the difference between a life of striving and struggling to be good enough and a life of freedom and joy in relationship with God. All of them prayed to be filled to fullness with the Holy Spirit, and some received the gift of tongues, while others received a deep sense of settling peace, an overwhelming measure of boldness, or even the sensation of a fire burning within them! We have a good Father who loves to give more of His Spirit to us when we ask!
Seven new believers were baptized into Jesus’ life in a local reservoir on Sunday.
Lesson: Life in Jesus doesn’t mean knowledge about Him – it means relationship with Him. It’s the difference between choosing the tree of knowledge and the tree of life (Genesis 3). Don’t read another book or attend another Bible study about Him until you’ve spent time listening to Him (John 5:39-40, John 10:14,27).
Iris Ministries Sudan expanded, incorporating a second children’s center with 7 kids. Three pastors made a five day faith journey to meet with us, and God orchestrated this partnership. This brings us to 95 children.
Also this week, God brought us a visitor who wanted to serve the work here in a strategic administrative role from his home base in the west. God knew our need before we did and provided this person before we had a chance to start looking for someone!
Lesson: It is best when God chooses the team- and He does! We don’t have to struggle, injure, and exhaust ourselves trying to fit the pieces together. Instead, we can rest in His peace… (Psalm 37:3-11)
Michele travels to Juba. God tells her and Pastor John to stop and preach at the dump. They do, and forty of the poorest, most dependent people in the world trust in Jesus. They invited us to return to start a church among them!
We held our second Journey weekend, and were amazed as the Holy Spirit revealed Truth to the new believers as they gathered and discussed passages of Scripture.
Lesson: Poverty in spirit- total, utter dependence on Jesus- is the only way to find fullness in Christ (Matthew 5). So, lean back into Holy Spirit and let Him work. Let Him teach. It’s infinitely better and infinitely easier that way.
What am I learning in Sudan? Something that not many people understand:
His yoke really is easy! His burden really is light! (Matthew 11:25-30)
Resting in the freedom of His presence,