I am primarily an evangelist and teacher who travels around the world in apostolic ministry as God leads and enables me. In addition to preaching and teaching the Bible, I mentor our key partners to be more strategic and impactful for the Gospel in their countries and cultures, just as they continue to mentor me. I am relationally focused rather than program or project focused in ministry relationships and partnerships.
The last entry in my Mission Journal was written by Patt and focused on Ethiopia—especially the Women’s Conference there. I hope you were blessed and encouraged by it as you got a brief glimpse of what your prayers and support make possible. This entree of my Travel Journal focuses on our time in Yei, Sudan, after we left Ethiopia. Here our focus was on the “Eden Keepers’ Farm” headed by our Sudanese partner, Dr. John Nyikako. God sovereignly connected me with him several years ago when he was a refugee in Nairobi.
By God’s grace he had been able to escape Sudan during the worst of the war years. He first lived and worked in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his college degree. Then he migrated to Russia where he continued to study agriculture and became fluent in Russian. After the implosion of Communism, he was able to travel to Germany where he continued to work and study. There he finally earned his Ph.D in agricultural science. He was also married to a Sudanese refugee woman. Together they were able to migrate to England where they had one son. There his wife also began her college and graduate studies toward a Ph.D.
But in spite of the academic successes and economic opportunities of Europe, God would not give John any peace. He would not allow him to become comfortable in the peace and prosperity of England. So God kept convicting him that it was time for him to return home to Southern Sudan which had been totally devastated by nearly 30 years of war and genocide. It was then that I met him in Nairobi when Patt and I were conducting a Women’s Conference for Sudanese refugee ladies. I sensed almost immediately that God had sovereignly brought us together. So another “Kingdom Adventure” began through this friendship and partnership!
Now after several trips to Sudan, we have begun to develop the “Eden Keepers’ Farm” under John’s able leadership. I hope you will be blessed and encouraged by this pictorial report. And I also hope that you will be moved to give financially so we can continue to expand this work. We especially need some monthly support for this work, plus…
• $1,000 to build “Farm Tukuls” for the workers;
• $500 for beds for the Tukuls;
• $10,000 to drill a well for the Farm and homes;
• $30,000 to build a combination “Director’s Home & Guest House” for the Farm Compound;
• $70,000 for a tractor and implements
So please continue to join with us in this timely work of helping to rebuild Southern Sudan—the ancient Biblical Kingdom of Cush!
In His Partnering Love,
PS: My next Journal entry will be on my bout with Malaria – the world’s number one killer!
An Arial view of the lush scenery of Southern Sudan as we fly in. Note the one road from Yei to Juba, the capital of the South
Being picked up at the dirt air strip in Yei after our 3 hour flight from Nairobi
The streets of Yei always have a lot of SPLA soldiers from the war
As we were driving to the farm, a former soldier jumped in our pickup truck with his AK-47—which I borrowed
A typical Sudanese woman we passed on the way out gathering bananas
Dr. John Nyikako, a Sudanese Refugee who is our partner at the Eden Keeper’s Farm outside of Yei
We unpack the 40’ container we recently shipped filled with a greenhouse and agricultural supplies
The first heavy task was to unload the water filtration system for the drip irrigation farm
Once it was beside the river, Len, Bert and Kelly began to reassemble it
Len VanWingerden and one of our Sudanese brothers assembly the water pipes to pump from the river
We faced unexpected monsoon rains that made the roads to the Farm impassable—even for a tractor
In spite of the soaking rains, the work goes on—building and cooking
Once the greenhouse is constructed, the water tower is assembled
Without cranes, everything has to be done by hand
Bert Lemkes and John discuss the vegetable seedlings that are almost ready for transplanting
Two of our workers enjoying their daily meal—which will soon be supplemented by fresh vegetables
Everyone works including the women—my sister Judy Baer (left) and Elaine VanWingerden (right)
My sister Judy organizing the Edu-Packs we sent in for the school children
Almost every day there were heavy monsoon rains which made building very difficult
Because of flooded roads, we could not leave the farm two nights and had to sleep in the greenhouse—which is when we probably contracted malaria from the many mosquitoes that were also in the greenhouse
At 5:30 AM each morning before sunrise there is devotions and Bible Study led by John
Len and John stand under the tree and discuss the location of the “Director’s Home and Guest House” we hope to build soon—which we need to raise $30,000 for. So all donations will be deeply appreciated!
A friendly soldier we met who was guarding one of the washed-out bridges we could not cross
Here is an aerial picture of the road we had to travel to give you an idea of the difficulty of travel in Southern Sudan during the rainy season
A final picture and good-by before flying from Sudan to Kenya—which I will report on next in my journal
“Vipers Attacking the Church” is a message that informs the Body of Christ about the devices of Satan, the twin-fanged serpent who seeks to inject his venom into our lives. Poison and venom come in a variety of forms and always lead to sin and sickness. Understanding these forms and tactics of the enemy is important to averting death and living a victorious life in Christ. Everyone has been bitten, but Jesus Christ is our Healing Solution! Listen to it now via our Podcast or download it from Biblical Principles for Living library!
Please excuse this overdue report on the women’s conference in Ethiopia. It was delayed for several reasons. When I returned home on September 3rd, I was sick with a bad cold/flu. J.L. came back from Sudan on the 9th even sicker than I was. I couldn’t seem to get better and neither could he. But, then J.L. got worse. He was finally hospitalized with falciparum malaria and pneumonia on September 20. After several days of him wavering in the balance, or so it seemed to me, the doctor changed the malaria medication and J.L. made a dramatic turn for the better. He came home on the 25th and has been improving slowly, day by day. I am almost completely well, and we praise the Lord for both of us.
One of J.L.’s travel buddies, Kelly Cantrell, contracted the same malaria and has been very sick. He is finally breathing on his own, but his kidneys have not started working yet. Our deepest thanks to all of you who knew of this and prayed so faithfully for the two of them. Your continued prayers for both J.L. and Kelly will be greatly appreciated as they continue to recover.
Now for my report. We arrived in Addis Ababa just days before their millennium celebration. Yes, that is right! 1999 was soon to be a memory and the exciting year of 2000 was almost upon them. The whole city was decorated with lights, streamers and signs. Animals were being gathered into pens for the feasting ahead. Everyone was busy with last minute shopping and planning for the country-wide holiday (Besides all that excitement, it was nice being seven years younger!).
As is often the case, I prepare for women’s conferences greatly burdened over the topic and text of the messages. And rightly so, because it is frighteningly wonderful, humbling and challenging to be asked to teach God’s truths. Then there is the fact that Satan uses all kinds of things to try and short-cut the effectiveness of the proclamation, like worry over cultural differences, jet lag, personality frictions and just plain old insecurities. Yet, somehow, the Word goes forth and does not return void. One thing’s for sure, the Lord gets all the glory!
We were blessed with a terrific group of Christian women, and some men. Their commitment to attend every session, as well as taking notes and interacting with us, was a wonderful encouragement to the four of us who did the teaching.
Attendees of the Conference
If only you could have heard their marvelous singing and the intense corporate prayer time. The ladies and men listened so intently, hardly moving. It was great to get to know some of them and hear their testimonies of God’s faithfulness in the midst of privation and struggles I know nothing about. Third World Christians always encourage me in my journey of faith because they have survived far more difficulties than I have, not just somehow, but triumphantly.
Judy Baer getting to know some of the ladies
Belaynesh and Kebebush were in charge for our host church, the Kale Heywot Church (KHC). They worked HARD in organizing every detail. Even our snacks were special: roasted grain (barley). I was delighted because I felt like I had stepped back in time to Ruth 2:14, 23. Lunch was provided each day, which always included a large, flat piece of enjira, the national staple of Ethiopia. Pieces of enjira are torn off and used to scoop up the vegetables, cheese, rice and meat sauce. Very tasty!
Lynell Bell, Belaynesh Dindamo, Judy Baer, and Patt Williams
Patt with her translator, Esther, and a plate of roasted barley.
Patt, Lynell, Judy enjoying lunch
Teaching times were scheduled throughout the mornings and afternoons. I spoke on lessons I continue to learn on being a servant of God. You saw my interpreter, Esther, in the picture of me holding the plate of roasted barley. Let me say that a good translator is a BIG gift from the Lord, and both Judy Baer, J.L.’s sister, and I were blessed with Esther. Judy taught sessions on the greatness of God’s love for us as women, and on guidelines for Christian living found in Ecclesiastes 5. Our friend, Lynell Bell, did a series of messages on “The Lord’s Prayer,” with her gift from God, Zwedinesh. And finally, J.L., through his translator, Nagera, spoke on the role of women in the Bible, and the John 12 account of Jesus’ anointing by Mary. I thought all three were powerful and I am still drawing from their teachings.
Esther translating for Judy
Lynell and her translator, Zwedinesh
JL with his translator, Nagera
We ended our time by attending a rural church dedication. For several decades, NDI has been in partnership with the VanWingerdens and VanPuttens, through Double Harvest, in the agricultural and farming projects at the Genesis Farm in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia. And for several years, Double Harvest has built a church through KHC in some rural part of the country. It was another highlight to an already wonderful trip.
Banner announcing the dedication service
Lynell and Judy with some of the children at the Church Dedication
All of us with the Genesis Farm friends and our long-stemmed red roses
Thank you for your partnership with NDI, whether you prayed, or gave financially, or did both. We can all praise the Lord together for any fruit that came, or will yet come, from this conference. We have several strategic women’s conferences planned for 2008 and I look forward to sharing about them in the future.
Patt at the Genesis Farm with the bushes of geraniums and fushia
Gratefully yours in Christ,