Jesus loves us. He will return someday.

While Jacob was away for nearly a month, he had Paulo stay on his compound. Paulo is the elder of the gathering of believers in Yei village. When Jacob sat down to talk with him, he begin singing a simple song he had composed while Jacob was away. The song in Laarim simply says, “Jesus loves us. He will return some day.” Paulo’s grandson told Jacob that his grandfather had come up with this song to encourage himself while he was staying at the compound alone. Pray for Paulo, that the Lord will continue to put a song in his heart and be the friend that is always near.

Partial healing

Lucia and her son, Marino, spent most of March in Juba getting treatment for a condition that has left Marino unable to speak for over a year. He needed surgery to remove growths from his larynx. We thank God that the surgery went well, however not all could be removed at once and Marino is still not speaking much above a whisper. We also thank God that the biopsy of the masses did not reveal any cancerous cells. The surgeon has told Lucia to return to Juba in May/June for further surgery. This has been a difficult journey for Lucia and her son, but she has not wavered in her belief that God has been her help and strength through it all – “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens!” (Psalm 68:19). Please pray that God would heal Marino completely, that his voice would be restored, and he would use his mouth to speak the praises of God.

Call on Jesus

Pray for Logwe, a Laarim believer who is facing much stress in his life. Pray that he would remain firmly trusting in the Lord and walking with Him. Pray that he would know “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth” (Psalm 145:18), and that he would call on Jesus for help in times of trouble.

Sharpen each other in faith

Lolimo is a young man in the village of Yei where Jacob lives. He is one of Jacob’s regular visitors. Even though Lolimo is only in second grade, he is able to read Laarim. This is truly good news for a mostly illiterate community! Pray this young man will read the Scriptures that have been translated into Laarim and share what he is learning with others. Jacob is encouraged by Lolimo’s growing faith and love for Jesus. Pray that he and his brother, Logwe, would sharpen each other in their faith.

Stepping out in faith

Pray for Kileng, Lowuyo, Kato, and Locii all stepping out in faith in one way or another to lead fellowships and serve their neighbors. At the end of December, Dan and Joel cooked a meal for these guys to celebrate finishing the 10-weeks of curriculum and to encourage them to continue growing and standing firm in the faith. Pray that even though the missionaries are gone, the Spirit who is with the Laarim believers will make them strong.

Marriage

Please join us in praying for Cecelia and Angelo. Cecelia is the lovely young woman that we knew from Ikotos as a little girl, and who has been living with us for the last 5 years. She is truly like a daughter to us. Angelo is the young man who has been an integral part of the Laarim team. He has stated his desire to marry Cecelia, and she has returned the sentiment. We are thrilled! It is wonderful to see two strong Christians with a heart for ministry seeking a righteous path towards marriage. But in this context, it’s also really hard! There will be “negotiations” between the two families over the dowry, which to us can seem like insurmountable demands. Pray the Lord will make the way for these two to come together in marriage, setting an example for the church and believers.

Fara Sika

Fara Sika is a small village in the southern territory of the Laarim community. Jacinta has been a missionary there since 2005, together with James who joined her in 2007. They are both from Kenya. It is a joy to see how God is growing His church in Fara Sika after the many years that Jacinta and James have been investing in there. We thank God for these faithful servants! Pray for them, that they will continue to “live holy and godly lives as [they] look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Peter 3:11).

Khalifah

Pray for Khalifah who now has the responsibility of leading the small flock of God in Chauwa. Pray that the Holy Spirit will empower him in that responsibility. Noblesse hopes to continue encouraging Khalifha through periodic phone calls while he is in Rwanda. There are very few spots in Kimatong where the network picks up cell phone signals, so pray that these men will be able to coordinate these times to talk, and that it will be an encouragement to them both.

A change of heart

Lokwangan went to school outside the Laarim community up to grade eight. He speaks good English and is volunteering at a primary school in Napak. Lokwangan had been abusing alcohol a lot, like many other teachers at that school. After he and Noblesse spent time looking together in the Scriptures, Lokwangan’s desire has changed. He has stopped alcohol consumption and he is very interested in the Word of God. Noblesse and Lokwangan have been using the Bible in English, and a book by Navigators called “Knowing God” to study together. Pray that the truth of God’s Word will keep transforming him into a strong believer who will soon be ready to reach out to many others for Christ.

Anxious

Pray for Lokolong, one of Jacob’s disciples. He has asked prayer for protection for himself and for others. Because of his age, this is the first year Lokolong has been given a gun and the responsibility to defend himself, others, and the cattle against potential enemies when they take the cattle out each day for grazing. He said this added responsibility has made him anxious. As cattle raiding (and subsequent shootings, death, and retaliation) are endemic in these cattle-keeping communities, pray for Lokolong’s safety, but also pray that as a Christian, he would “set an example by doing what is good” (Titus 2:7).

Seeds planted

Dan, Joel and Noblesse have completed their term of service and are now on their way back to their home countries. We are thankful for the faithful service of these three young men. They have spent two years in the remote villages of the Laarim; they have endured sickness, loneliness, heat. They have learned language and shared the gospel. Pray that the seeds of Truth they planted among the Laarim will continue to take root and grow and bear much fruit. Pray for the believers to “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings…passed on to [them]” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Visit home

It was great to have a visit with Angelo a couple of weeks ago when he came through Torit on his way to Kimatong. He has had a successful semester in his nursing program in Kenya, and chose to spend his month of holidays back in the village. Pray that during his time among the Laarim, he is able to “set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12); pray also that Angelo will hold fast to the calling he has received to be a witness among his own people. Please lift up Angelo and Noblesse as they travel by road to Kenya over the next few days.

Growing interest

Noblesse has struggled with getting a DBS group started in the village of Ngarahac. The village is far enough away that it requires him staying overnight, and the number of people interested in attending the Bible study has been very small. However, he was encouraged recently by increased attendance, as well as by meeting a woman, Natiyote, who expressed the desire to learn the Word of God. Pray that her desire would continue and would grow, and that she and others in the village will faithfully attend the Bible study.

Joyful noise

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High…to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp” (Psalm 92:1-3). Lokwan and Lomua are 2 boys who meet in Kali for Sunday morning worship. They recently made shaker instruments for use in the Sunday gathering. Pray they (the boys and the shakers!) would be used to make a joyful noise to the Lord. Pray that the believers and seekers meeting in Kali would continue even after Dan and Joel leave next month. May God grow this church in greater ways than we could ask or imagine.

meeting together

Noblesse has been encouraging Khalifha, a Laarim Christian in the village of Chawua, to start and lead a DBS in his village. After several months of praying and waiting, Khalifa shared this with Noblesse: “I have started to gather my family and we read the Bible with them…I have invited others and they have come.” Thank God for Khalifha’s commitment to Christ and growth as a leader. Pray that he will be faithful to follow through on his plans to lead this Bible study (the makings of a church!) in Chawua.

Final weeks

There are only a few weeks left for the Kimatong “men’s team” until Noblesse, Dan and Joel’s terms come to an end. Pray that even in these final weeks the Lord would give wisdom as they seek to help establish the believers as the Laarim church. Pray that God will establish His church among the Laarim. Pray from Jeremiah 17:7-8 for the Christians there: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Discipleship

Despite the challenges, there are many encouraging things going on amongst the Laarim. Pray for Dan as he leads four guys through the discipleship curriculum the team developed for maturing believers. Pray for Lowuyo, Kileng, Kato, and Locii as they study God’s Word and apply it to their lives. Pray for deep impact in the community as these men live out what it means to follow Jesus. Pray for the weekly Bible study Joel is leading at Lolepo’s compound – may he and his whole household come to a true faith in Jesus.

Needless death

The team in Kimatong feel the pain and burden of the senseless loss that seems so much a part of life among the Laarim. There is the death of young men in cattle raids, fights that break out at dances that lead to one boy dead and two girls shot in the leg, death from preventable and treatable diseases…sometimes it’s overwhelmingly hard to live in such darkness. Pray for the day when the Laarim “…will delight in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:3) and “they will neither harm nor destroy…for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (11:9). And please pray God’s special grace over this team as they minister in this place.

Hunger season

We received an urgent request for help from Jacinta, a Kenyan missionary working among the Laarim in the village of Fara Sika. She is recently returned from a break in Kenya and has found the situation in the area dire due to food shortages. We were able to send her some food, but there will be more needs as dry season (often referred to as “hunger season” here in South Sudan) is upon us. Pray for Jacinta’s faith to grow as she trusts her daily needs to the Lord, and He faithfully provides everything she needs. Pray for mercy for the people she lives among.

New contacts

Last month Joel got out to a village called Thuguru for an exploratory trip in hopes of finding some new places to take Bible stories. After finding his old neighbour’s new home, he and his friend set off to meet the village chief. By the end of the day, Joel had been invited by the three compounds he visited to return with either the Jesus Film or to teach God’s Word! Thank God for Lolepo, Abraham and Lolar, the men of peace God led Joel to that day – pray for them and many others from these homes to follow Jesus.

May seeds grow

Lift up Dan and Joel’s relationships with the people whose garden is near their house (Louren, Lopiir, Nadukuo, Rebekah, Nangide, Teresa). Pray the Lord will open their ears and hearts to the gospel as Dan and Joel greet them when they come to the gardens. Pray for boldness (and language skills) for Dan and Joel to share truths from God’s Word with them.

Shepherds

Pray for Kalifha, a Laarim man, who is leading the Bible study in Cauwa. Pray for him, and other Laarim believers, to grow to maturity in order that they may “be shepherds of God’s flock…examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2,4).

Pray for believers

Paul declared in his letter to the Colossian believers that “since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (1:9). Let us remember the Laarim believers today and pray this same prayer for them. Pray today for Maria, Kalifha, Loduko, Lokolong, Lowuyo, Yaba, Kileng and others (God knows their names!).

Youth program

Please pray for the youth program that Noblesse is leading. Pray that these young people would be captivated by the message of God’s love for them, “so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27).

Hanging around

Pray for growing relationships with the many kids who hang around Dan and Joel’s compound, especially Lowuyo, Dominik, Lokwar and Lomua. Pray that as Dan and Joel live out what is to follow Jesus, their lives and their Words would preach the gospel and draw these boys to relationship with God.

Noblesse

Noblesse has felt a tremendous amount of suffering and loss as he has seen many of his disciples either leave for refugee camps or killed in raids. When he was with us in Torit last month, he shared how deeply connected he feels to his community in Chauwa, so these losses have been significant. Pray that Noblesse would be comforted by “the Father of compassion…who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Bible being translated

The completion of the Laarim Bible is on track for 2023. Pray for the translation team to persevere and work hard to finish, and for good cooperation from the community as they do language checks. As the Laarim hear God’s Word in their mother tongue, pray for them to declare: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path” (Psalm 119:103).

Planting

The rains have fallen and the Laarim have been planting gardens. This is the season the men and boys return home from the cattle camps to help with cultivation. Pray the Holy Spirit would move mightily in this season, that both spiritually and physically “the Lord will indeed give what is good, and [their] land will yield its harvest” (Psalm 85:12).

Pray for faith

Dan and Joel have now completed sharing the 25 Bible Story set at Chief Angelo’s compound, which tells God’s story from Creation to the Resurrection and Faith. Pray that all who have listened to God’s Truth would “fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness” (Joshua 24:14). May Chief Angelo and his whole family “throw away the…gods that are among [them] and yield [their] hearts to the Lord” (24:23).

Body of Christ

Only a few years ago there were very few, if any, Christians among the Laarim. Now every Sunday small groups of believers are meeting in all three of the villages we have team members in. Pray for the church meeting in Cauwa where Noblesse lives, in Yei where Jacob lives, and in Kali where Dan and Joel live, to grow in what it means to be the body of Christ.

Followers!

Praise God for Laarim men who have become followers of Jesus! Pray for Logwe, Marino, Kahlifa, Paulo, Dominik and others who have professed faith in Jesus, that they would persevere in their faith, grow as Christians, and be bold witnesses in their homes and communities. Pray for these men to proclaim righteousness in the great assembly and not to seal their lips. To not hide God’s righteousness in their hearts; to speak of God’s faithfulness and salvation. May they not conceal God’s love and His truth from the great assembly (Psalm 40:9-10).

Profess Jesus

Many Laarim continue to hear the Word of God but have not yet professed Jesus as Lord of their lives. Pray for Angelo, Paulo, Marino, Yaba, Naepi, Nakai, Kileng, Chief Angelo, Moyna, Mary, Chief Joseph, Locek, Daniel, Lokorai, Kayite, Lodukuo, Lokwar, Lolepi and Celestian to trust in Jesus for salvation and be transformed by the gospel.

Light and Truth

Pray for schools among the Laarim to be places of light and truth. Pray for Morris, a Laarim teacher and catechist at one of the schools, that his love and knowledge of the Lord would grow. Pray for Celestian, the head teacher at another school, that as he meets with Noblesse to study God’s Word, he will hear Wisdom’s call: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me” (Proverbs 8:17).

Transformation

As more and more Laarim come to faith in Jesus, pray for truly transformed lives. Pray that this transformation would lead to peace between the Laarim and the Toposa who are stuck in the cycle of cattle raiding and revenge killing. Pray for youth aged boys, especially, to resist the pressure to follow their age mates, and to understand, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble” (Proverbs 4:18-19).

Seek the Lord

Dan and Joel are using the Jesus Film in their community to engage with people and have conversations about the gospel. Pray that more and more Laarim will “seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

Angelo

Laarim believer Angelo is enrolled in a clinical officer program at a university near Nairobi, but has faced the challenge of doing classes online during the covid pandemic. He is finding it lonely in Nairobi and misses his team and the Laarim community very much. Pray that Angelo would have endurance to complete his first year well, and to have wisdom as he considers his options for completing the program.

Sports and Gospel

Dan and Joel have started a soccer ministry on Sunday evenings in Kimatong, a 6km bike ride from their home in Kali. Pray that as they reach out to the young people through this fun time, there will be many opportunities to share spiritual truths that have eternal value.

Living water

Praise God for a working borehole in Kali, the community Dan and Joel live in among the Laarim. This was an opportunity to work together with Paulo, a Laarim man trained by NGOs to repair boreholes. Pray that Dan and Joel’s service to the community and love for the people would give them many opportunities to keep sharing about Jesus, the “spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

Good Soil

Pray for people of peace in the Laarim communities of Ngarahac and Lotopocho where Noblesse is seeking to spread the seeds of the gospel. Pray for men and women in these communities who “hear the word and understand it… [and] produce a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown” (Matthew 13:23).

Taking more leadership

Praise God for how He is building His church among the Laarim! Kleava is a farmer who sought out the Word of God and is applying it to his life. Logemet and Lokorai, two teenagers that Noblesse is mentoring, are taking more leadership among the believers. Pray that God will build his church upon these “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5).