Translation update

SIL (Wycliffe) has taken on Lopit as a full time Bible Translation project this year. They have a couple of Lopit translators living and working in Juba and working on the New Testament. As they gather resources together so that they can make use of the existing materials that our team has worked on with the community already, pray that there will be good collaboration between the SIL team and the missionaries (past and present) working among the Lopit. Pray that God will bless this translation, and speed along its progress.

Taking with God

Last month Marlene made several trips back and forth to Ohilang from Torit to close up ministry and help move Umjuma and her children back to Torit. On one occasion she met with a dear old lady that she has known for years. Over the years, Marlene has shared with this woman parts of the gospel, but on this occasion while talking about the passing of Luka, Marlene was able to share with “T” her sure hope that she will see Luka again in eternity. Marlene then shared the whole gospel, creation to Christ, with “T”. As they were talking it became evident that “T” had stopped speaking to Marlene and had started talking with God! This felt like a great gift to Marlene in the midst of much loss and sorrow over the last weeks. Pray for “T” to grow in her trust in the Lord, and that He will teach her through His Spirit.

Discipling

It has been good to have Chuck and Shelley, former Pioneer missionaries among the Lopit, back in Lohutok for a couple of months. They have spent quite a lot of time with Paulo going through several TEE (Theological Education) books, as well as time with Thomas and Clement encouraging and teaching them. We thank God that despite several years away, their passion for discipling the Lopit has remained. Pray that those they have discipled in the past and during this stay will continue as faithful followers of Jesus.

Faithful witnesses

Thomas and Clement are two believers in a Lopit village that is a 1-2 hour walk from Iboni. Since Luka died and Umjuma has moved back to Torit, they have committed to taking turns walking to Iboni to lead Sunday morning services for the believers there. This is such encouraging news! These men have faced persecution in their own village, and yet, like the faithful who defied kings and cultures before them, they have trusted in God, “…willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God” (Daniel 3:28). Pray that their witness and testimony would encourage the believers in Iboni, Ohilang, and elsewhere, to do the same.

Way forward?

After Luka’s death and others leaving, we are really asking the Lord what AIM ministry in Lopit looks like now and in the future. We are hopeful about Robert and Carol’s return after their studies (at least a year from now), Landi joining the Lopit ministry later this year and Andrea’s return, however right now there are more questions than answers as we think and pray about Lopit ministry. Pray we will have the wisdom and understanding to see what God is doing to reach the Lopit with His salvation, for He says: “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23).

Lasting peace

Last month, peace talks between the villages of Lohutok and Ibahure were arranged by an inter-church committee for the South Sudan Council of Churches. It was encouraging to see the church rise up to address this decades-long conflict between the villages. The peace talks seemed to go well, and an agreement was signed between the two villages. Please pray for a lasting peace, that will only truly come by salvation through the Prince of Peace.

Needing more workers

Marlene has been back in Ohilang for about a week now. She is closing her ministry there for a time, either to lead the Inbound team, or until the team builds up again so she won’t be out there alone. Pray that these few weeks she is in the village will be a blessing, both to her and the community. Pray the Lord will continue to strengthen and build up the Lopit who have come to faith. And keep praying for more workers to participate in reaching the Lopit with the gospel.

Visit

Jordan was able to arrange for the mission coordinator for this region and one of the women in the church, to go out to Iboni to visit Luka and Umjuma. Owinja and Betty spent 3 days with Luka and Umjuma, participating in their ministry to the Lopit, as well as encouraging them through fellowship. Betty came back to Torit with a new perspective about the plight of the Lopit. Truly “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Pray that Owinja and Betty will serve as catalysts in the Torit church to send out more laborers to preach Christ among the Lopit and other unreached peoples in South Sudan.

Women’s ministry

Umjuma is trying to start a women’s ministry in Iboni. Her desire is for all the women in Iboni to come together. That’s a big dream! But pray that she will be faithful to whatever the Lord is calling her to do, not to give up, and not to become discouraged. Pray the women will come and that God “will make [Umjuma] a light for the Gentiles, that [His] salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).

Reconciliation talks

Please pray for the reconciliation talks between Lohutok and Ibahure villages. This is to take place on Fri 17th Dec. Please pray for wisdom for those leading it. For the local believers to stand up and speak against the history of violence and revenge and for hearts to be changed. Pray for the peace of God which surpasses all understanding to be present over the days leading up to and days following these talks.

Katy

Katy is a young Lopit woman Marlene has been discipling over the years. Pray for her as she starts her studies in Juba, that she would make the most of the opportunity and be able to switch to the School of Medicine after this semester (after being placed in Veterinary Science instead of her study of choice). Pray also that she will find godly friends and a good church family while in Juba, and that this may be a time of spiritual, not just intellectual, growth.

AIC

The AIC church raised awareness and money for missions on Mission Sunday last month. Bags of food and supplies were purchased for Luka and Umjuma. It is exciting to witness the church stepping up as senders! Pray they will have wisdom as they continue to move in faith to send and to go. Pray for Luka and Umjuma as there is no team out there for a few months, and remember them as they carry on with the work in Iboni. God is with them; we are never alone.

Stand firm

Continue to pray for the Bible study groups that were meeting with Marlene in Ohilang. While she and Andrea are both on home assignment, pray that these seekers and young believers will keep meeting and stay faithful to Jesus. “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isaiah 7:9); pray for Itak, Iouru, Aaron, and all the other believers, to stand firm!

Ilouru

In the last few weeks Marlene has been able to follow up with her friend, Ilouru, who expressed a desire to follow the Lord. They are now meeting on Tuesday mornings for Bible study! Pray for Ilouru and her husband, Itak, to “turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21), to invite neighbours to learn from the Word, and for the light of the gospel to continue to grow in the village of Ohilang.

School open

We give thanks for the opening of the Ohilang school. Some of the teachers are involved in the weekly Bible study with Marlene. Pray that they and Marlene would set an example of living out their faith in the school and community. Pray the school will run consistently, despite many distractions.

Sending church

This weekend Luka and Umjuma will be in Torit to share about their ministry and their needs with the church. Pray that their stories of what God is doing among the Lopit will encourage and bless the church. Pray they will also have the courage and boldness to share about their needs – both physical and spiritual. Ask God to work in the Torit AIC church to step up their commitment to support missionaries so they can remain in these tough places.

Wives

Thomas and Clement continue to persevere and remain faithful to Jesus in the village a couple hours walk from Ohilang. Their wives have been very resistant to the gospel in the past; however, Marlene is starting to see a softening in their hearts toward the Lord. Pray these women will “know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

Women’s Bible study

Marlene has been encouraged by the commitment of Aaron, his wife, and several other women in the village to the twice weekly Bible study she is leading in Ohilang. These mostly illiterate women are learning to discuss what they are learning from God’s Word and how it impacts their life and home. Pray that this Bible study will deeply impact the Ohilang community, as well as other Lopit villages. Pray for the new believers to “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse [them] of doing wrong, they may see [their] good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us” (1 Peter 2:12).

Peace talks

This week, from the 2nd to the 6th, Lohutok is hosting a peace dialogue between various tribes in order to bring stability, and hopefully lasting peace, to the region. It involves State and local government, representatives of the Toposa and Lopit communities, and representatives from the church and missionaries. There is also hope for a dialogue between the Lopit villages of Lohutok and Ibahore for lasting peace. Please pray for this week of meetings, and for all involved to have hearts that are open to lasting peace and reconciliation. Pray for reasonable and truthful communication. And pray that the believers (local and missionaries) would have the opportunity to share the gospel with those attending, even though this is a state arranged meeting.

Luka improving

We thank God that Luka was able to go to Juba last month for medical treatment. He received a new concoction for his skin rash that seems to be helping. Please continue to ask the Lord for complete healing. Pray that through Luka and Umjuma’s discipleship, the believers in Iboni will become a strong, unified body of Christ among the Lopit.

Translation work

The books of Genesis and Exodus are now complete in Lopit and work on Mark has begun. The translation team are hopeful to have a draft of Mark by the end of year. As more and more of the Bible is translated into Lopit, pray that, “the unfolding of [God’s] Word gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

Sunrise Bible study

Marlene has recently been able to start a bible study with her neighbors in Ohilang, meeting every Monday and Friday morning just after sunrise. Pray that everyone will be faithful to come, be eager to learn, and will grow in their understanding of who God is.

SS missionaries

Luka and Umjuma continue to do well in Lopit and are very much appreciated by the AIM team and the local community. We are so encouraged to hear that when Luka is away, his wife Umjuma leads the weekly bible studies and Sunday morning church services – she is thriving in village life and ministry, and we praise God! They ask prayer for good relationships and for peace among Lopit villages (there has been an escalation of insecurity in the area due to inter-tribal conflict). They also ask prayer for more opportunities to start more DBS groups (Bible study), and for more students to join TEE (Theological Education by Extension). Please join them in their prayers for the Lopit!

Luka is also asking us to pray for his health condition. He has been suffering greatly from a skin disease since he and Umjuma moved to Iboni. There is one medicated cream that seems to help, but it is not easy to obtain. Please pray for healing.

Darkness

Pray for more workers to be sent to the Lopit field. There is darkness here- pray for the Light to shine, for the Lord to give endurance to His people, and for an end to the violence and instability in the region.

Teacher training

Marlene had an excellent week in Mura, Lopit doing a teachers’ training course. William, a Lopit man from this village, is starting a secondary school (grade 9-12) for his community, and Marlene was able to spend the week with the teachers (who all profess faith in Jesus), encouraging them to see the classroom as a place for the light of Jesus to penetrate the darkness. Pray for the teachers to grow in their faith and to have courage to stand for Jesus in the school and the community. Pray for William as he leads the school and the church in Mura, Lopit, that God will give him endurance, courage, and faith.

TEE

The TEE (Theological Education by Extension) group continues to meet in Lopit, and Robert has been greatly blessed by the growth he has seen in the participants. Pray that God will provide for Thomas and Clement and the other young men studying God’s Word through this program, to continue on with their studies, and for each of them to “go home to [their] family and tell them how much the Lord has done for [them], and how he has had mercy on [them]” (Mark 5:19). Pray that as they share their testimonies, the Lopit will be amazed and worship God.

Ministry continues

Luka and Umjuma are now leading the fellowship of believers who are meeting for Sunday worship in Iboni (Lopit). They are also continuing with the Discovery Bible Study groups that meet during the week. Please pray for the new believers to “flee evil desires…and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Also, please pray for healing for Luka – he has suffered a terrible skin rash since arriving in Iboni two months ago.

Another light

We have prayed for God to move in the hearts of Lopit believers, to return to their people to be proclaimers of the gospel among their own. God has raised up a Lopit family who have recently returned to their village, after being in Kenyan refugee camps for years, with a calling to share Christ with their people! Pray for this family to stand firm in the faith and bear much fruit for the glory of God’s kingdom among the Lopit.

Protection

There has been much intercommunal tension and fighting in Lopit near villages that our team is working in. They are not fearful for themselves; rather their concern is for their friends in these villages. Pray for the believers in Lopit to trust God’s promise to “guard the course of the just and protect the way of his faithful ones” (Proverbs 2:8).

Luka and Umjuma

Last month we were privileged to be a part of sending out South Sudanese missionaries, Luka and Umjuma. It was wonderful to see the church in Torit take steps  to send missionaries, we were encouraged and so were Luka and Umjuma. We praise God that they and their children (all seven that they care for!) are settling in well, thriving under Robert and Carol’s leading/mentoring, and even starting to gather the believers in Iboni together for Sunday worship. Pray for a good start to a fruitful ministry. Ask the Lord to build His church in Iboni.

Update on new missionaries

By now Luka and Umjuma have been in Iboni for a few weeks. Continue to pray for their integration into this Lopit community. And pray that the church in Torit will be faithful in their role to support this family in prayer and finances, as Luka and Umjuma commit themselves to living among the lost as a light for Jesus.

Needs a savior

Please pray for Michael Uhuru, a man who, despite lack of training, has faithfully served the Iboni community at their local clinic. He has been given the opportunity to train at the Health Institute in Torit as a clinical officer, with the intention of returning to his community again at the end of the three years of training. He is open to God but does not have a full understanding of the gospel and his need for Jesus as Savior. Pray for connections with believers while he is in Torit, and that he would return to the Lopit to bring healing to his community both physically and spiritually.

Transformed

Bible studies in Iboni are going well! We praise God for consistent and regular attendance at each of the six groups that meet for discovery Bible study each week. Pray for each one who attends to grow deeper in their knowledge of and love for God, and that they would “be transformed by the renewing of [their] minds” (Romans 12:2).

New workers!

We praise God for Luka and Umjuma who have responded in faith to God’s call on their lives to move to Iboni. This young South Sudanese couple will be living in the house left by Marlene and Andrea and will be mentored by the Betts. Pray for the Lord’s provision for their physical needs, and that the church in Torit will walk this missional journey with them. Pray for spiritual strength, assurance of the Lord’s presence and guidance, and strength to persevere. Pray the Lord will open a door for fruitful ministry and that many Lopit will be saved!

Weekly training and studies

Pray for the weekly Bible studies and teachers’ training that Marlene continues to lead, that there would be a hunger and thirst for more knowledge and understanding of the Bible, that people would commit themselves to attending the studies and training, and that God’s Word would be a light that reveals truth and hope to all the Lopit.

TEE

We are grateful we have been able to continue doing TEE (Theological Education by Extension) with Thomas and Clement since Robert and Carol have gone on home assignment. Pray for these men to grow in their knowledge of God and His will for their lives, their families, and their communities. Pray that their wives would see Jesus’ love lived out in their husbands and come to believe. Please also pray for Paulo, a Lopit pastor in another village who was doing TEE with Justin. Pray the Lord will provide a means for him to continue in his studies.

Initiative to grow

Praise God for the gathering of believers in Torit to pray for the Latuko and Lopit last month. This is a new initiative among the Christians to meet once a month for early morning prayers. Pray that those who have committed to this will be faithful, and that nothing will hinder them from meeting. Please pray for this initiative to gain momentum and grow!

Faithfully attending

Pray for the head teacher in Imuluha, that he (and others) will faithfully attend the teacher training and Bible sharing that I have planned for the teachers of that school. Pray that the Lord would use these teachers to be a light for Him in the schools, and that the light would penetrate every home through the children who are receiving the Gospel message at school.

Meeting together

Marlene asks for prayer for Grace, her long-time Lopit friend in Iboni. Upon Marlene’s return to Iboni last month, Grace immediately asked her to meet on a specified day and time each week for Bible study. Pray for wisdom for Marlene, and for Grace to have a growing understanding of the Word and a closer relationship with the Lord.

Using his gift

Last month Michael took a break from his ministry in Imatong to go visit his home village in Lopit. He is one of very few believers in Imohulwa. Pray that his words and life continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to his family and friends, and that many from there would turn to Jesus through Michael’s witness among them. Pray that Michael would “use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10), so that if he speaks, he speaks the very words of God, and if he serves he does it with the strength God provides, “so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (4:11).