Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Crawling under the mosquito net in the mud hut with thatched roof, I was bone tired from the five hours on a Sudanese bus in over 100 degree heat.  Listening to the conversation of the people outside my sleeping quarters, stretching to get the kinks out of my body,  I couldn’t help but wonder if I wasn’t a bit old for such endeavors.   Thirty years ago when I was working the bush of Turkana and Pokot such expeditions were normal.   Today I wonder if I decided to start fresh in South Sudan how would I do it, but even more, I wonder IF I could do it.

My time in Sudan was short, but long enough to hear the stories of tribes such as the Dingadinga, Topsa, Dinka and Nuer and other tribal groups living near the mountains on the Ugandan border, where primitive people live much like they have for centuries.  My spirit wanted to explore such places, to learn their customs, tell them of a God they know exists but fear the spirits with no knowledge of the One who created them.  Sadly, my body told me that my time for walking through the bush for days is past.  Such work is a young man’s game.  Sleeping on the ground, eating any food that is set before you, is a chapter that is closing in my life.  But is missions really a young man’s (and woman’s) game?  If so, then, statistically, the role of American missionaries in the world is waning, as fewer are signing up for career service in places like Sudan, the highlands of Kyrgyzstan or the lowlands of Bangladesh.  And, even if the young do sign on, a very small percentage will ever work in the many back roads throughout the world.  Not many Americans will take their families to remote cities away from the capital,  even fewer would put their children in a boarding school like Rift Valley Academy and be separated from their kids weeks at a time.   Of course serving God is more than roughing it and most the the good work Western missionaries are doing are in cities.

Reaching the unreached is a popular theme in the Western church.  We can pray for the Dinka, we can even send short-termers to visit them, but how will they truly be reached with the Gospel?

Probably the only hope for those hidden groups would be for a national missionary to reach them, but Africans are not that much different from Americans.  The style of living is different as there is still a standard of lifestyle for each person.  A guy from Kenya will generally complain about the food of the Sudanese, or the hot places where the people live. 

This past week I have met some Sudanese and Kenyans who truly have a passion for doing things that is absolutely necessary for successful ministry among a people group, i.e. learn their language, customs, cultures and live by the rules they dictate, not your own culture.  Though I cannot be on the field of play because of age, I can work smarter using the experience God has given me to facilitate the young man’s game.  And, for the time I have left on earth I pray that from time-to-time, the Lord will allow me to join in the game and tasting the experience of taking the Gospel who truly have never heard His Name.