“Are you the man who talks the truth about Jesus?” ask the young Ingessana people.
Getachew hesitates as he sizes up the young people. They have turned up en masse to his house from the refugee camps outside the village. Historically, Ingessana people are known to be hostile to strangers.
“Yes,” he replies.
The leader of the group hands over a piece of paper and asks him to read it.
This is a monumental moment.
Practising African Traditional beliefs, many Ingessana people became Muslims in a time of need. Islamic missionaries came promising food and water during a drought. What was required in return for the provision was for the Ingessana to become Muslims. Many of them converted.
Due to war, over the last five years a number of Ingessana people have been forced to leave their homeland of Blue Nile state in Sudan. Many now live in Doro, South Sudan, which is home to more than 100,000 refugees. And it’s Doro where a number of SIM missionaries are based.
Along with a number of other tribes, the Ingessana continue to be in material need and most are out of work. Doro is a tough place, but safer than their homeland for the time being.
Word gets around about a man who visits the camps every day talking about Jesus. This brings us back to the letter.
The letter from the youth reads like this (paraphrased):
‘To the people who are telling the Christian religion, SIM organisation…We are the youth of Ingessana tribes and are requesting the Christian religion. The number of our youth is very big, more than 6,000. We want a pastor in each of the eight villages to teach our people. We want all Ingessana tribes to become Christians. We need churches to be built in the villages’.
The number of Ingessana that came with the letter were around 50. What a privilege and responsibility for Getachew, the SIM team and local church leaders. A tribe that has never known Christ before, requesting the faith and discipleship.
It’s almost exactly one year since the youth came to SIM with the letter. Many of the requests in that letter are being actively lived out.
Today, there are three churches in different camps, with more than 150 people regularly taking part of the Ingessana Christian community.
Church leaders and SIM missionaries are regularly visiting the camps to teach and disciple new believers. Musicians have composed new songs that both worship God and teach about God.
Life in the refugee camps is tough for the Ingessana, but there is hope. Praise God that the people have found themselves in Doro where they have found their faith. And praise God that the desires expressed in the young people’s letter are being lived out today.
If you pray, praise God for the Ingessana who have come to faith. Pray for those who are yet to believe. Pray for the effective discipleship of new believers, for continued peace among the tribes in the camps and for the Christian community to grow in the camps.
SIM South Sudan Team Evacuated
On 27 December the entire SIM South Sudan team was safely evacuated from South Sudan to Nairobi due to several days of small arms fire in the nearby Doro Refugee Camp. This ongoing unrest between members of the host community and refugee community highlights the challenges of life here.
Continue to pray with us for the protection of all the South Sudanese people who remain in the conflict area and for peace in the Doro region.