I found a radio and within a few hours had arranged an aircraft to fly in to our location with Bibles and books in Bari, Moru, English and Arabic. This aircraft would then fly us to an airfield near to where our Chaplains Training Course was going to take place. On the way we would drop off Hansie at the hospital. Meanwhile the vehicle would remain behind at the compound to be repaired by Hansie after he had recovered.
In this way we casually evacuated our sick team member, supplied the teachers and students at our location with the needed Bibles and books, airlifted our film evangelism equipment, Bibles, books, medic packs, and other gifts to the area where our next training courses were going to take place and we'd make all our commitments - on time.
Flying in the Bibles was actually the easy part. Getting them across the river and distributed to the schools, churches and army bases was a logistical challenge.
We would also need to borrow some vehicle for our ministry activities on the other side of the river. The only acceptable currency for "renting" a vehicle in Sudan is fuel. So I also had a couple of drums of diesel flown in. This secured us the use of a Land Cruiser at our next destination.
The teachers were delighted as we off-loaded the Bibles and books for them, then we loaded on our cargo and we were racing down the runway and airborne. There were still some logistical problems and delays at the other side - but within 24 hours we had ferried all our people, equipment and supplies to the Chaplains Training Center near the front.
A Great Joy
After all the complications, it was a great joy to finally be there. We received a wonderful warm welcome from the soldiers, commanders and chaplains. After an enthusiastic worship service, training began. This included practicals, physical training, and lectures. I was encouraged by how well some answered tests to evaluate how well they remembered previous lessons. We also went over the Evangelism Explosion materials again. There were some great testimonies of units impacted with the Gospel, of many lives transformed and many soldiers discipled.
Each night we showed different Biblical or historical films. One night our film evangelism was interrupted by the unmistakable sound of an Antanov bomber flying directly overhead. Everyone scattered as I ran to the generator and killed the lights. We crouched down behind cover and strained our ears to discern any metallic sound of bomb bay doors opening or the sound of falling bombs. However, we were all relieved as the sound of the Antanov' s engine receded. No bombs were dropped and the cleared streets filled up with soldiers again. We continued the film - in this case on the life of Joseph.
Preach the Gospel, Heal the Sick
While I was conducting the Chaplains Training Course, John was running a Medical Workshop. For some Chaplains this was the 12th Frontline Fellowship leadership training course they'd attended. Some of the medics had attended all of our Medical training courses back to 1996. The medics were each provided with a medical backpack full of essential first aid supplies.
It was our joy to train and equip pastors and chaplains with the God' s Story evangelism kits - backpacks with VCD Gospel presentation in Arabic, solar panels, rechargeable batteries and public address systems. Tim, Peter and Hansie spread out the Kit.
At the conclusion of the Chaplains course, the chaplains were equipped with boots, backpacks, Bible bags, chaplains uniforms, gospel recordings, evangelism kits, lots of Bibles and books, and bicycles.
Equipped with the new God's Story VCD solar powered evangelism kits, Bibles and bicycles, chaplains set out on the road to Juba.
Once the Chaplains and Medics courses were concluded we needed to leave for a town over 35 miles away - but our transport failed to arrive. As the sun set we started smearing anti-mosquito lotion over all the exposed parts of our bodies and headed out on bicycles to make the Sunday church services we were scheduled to preach at the following morning. By God's grace the rain held off and we made all our commitments in good time.
Persevering Under Trials
The church was badly damaged from aerial bombardments but the worship service was carried out amidst the ruins - a clear testimony that Jesus Christ is building His Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. In the evenings we showed Christian films to thousands of people who packed out the ruined church building. Despite the relentless persecution by the National Islamic Front government, the Christians in Southern Sudan are standing firm, filling the churches and bringing up their children to love, honor and worship our Lord Jesus Christ.
As the pastor showed me the mud pits and brick works where their members are painstakingly making tens of thousands of bricks to rebuild their bombed church, I could see that these resilient Christians will never give up. They would rather die for Christ than denounce Him. The Islamization and Arabization policies of the Sudanese government haven't got a chance. They are thoroughly discredited and rejected by the courageous Christian Black people of Southern Sudan.
How, then, can we Christians who have the privilege of religious freedom allow anything to make us give up? Seldom have I undertaken a mission trip where so many things went wrong - and yet seldom have I had the privilege of experiencing a mission trip more blessed with true spiritual success. God can turn our obstacles into opportunities. He can make our stumbling blocks into stepping stones. The will of God will never lead you where the Grace of God cannot keep you.
Dr. Peter Hammond is the Founder and Director of Frontline Fellowship, the Founder and Chairman of Africa Christian Action, President of Whitefield College Africa and the Director of United Christian Action. He is an international speaker, presenting an average of 400 lectures or sermons each year throughout America and Africa. Hammond is a missionary who has pioneered evangelistic outreaches in the war zones of Mozambique, Angola and Sudan.