I was privileged to join SEA Partners on a trip to Boma in March. Since there is no way to adequately capture the sights, sounds and God’s working with words and sentences, let me share with you a few snapshots from Boma, South Sudan.
Snapshot #1: Kama is a student in the school started and funded solely by SEA Partners. Kama sits in the back of his class, but doesn’t miss one word his teachers say. I watched as he focused intently on all his teachers were sharing and then dug into the exercises. When he misunderstood one assignment, rather than just correct what he got wrong, he wanted to do the whole exercise again.
Kama represents a majority of the students I witnessed who are highly engaged in learning. They want an education and they are willing to walk two miles each way to attend school in spite of no shoes, mud from pouring down rain and the fear of possible attacks. These are the children for which God called SEA Partners to build a school and to provide excellent teachers who are providing them a quality education. If not SEA Partners, who would do this? The answer had been “No One” until SEA Partners responded to God’s calling.
Snapshot #2: Think of the most remote place you can picture in your mind then multiply that by 10. You have now arrived at Upper Boma, South Sudan. The planes flying in to Lower Boma must land on a dirt runway from which you then start “The Hike.” It’s legendary, and for good reason. The first couple miles are in the flatlands. An undetonated RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) was pointed out to me lying within 5 feet of our trail; a vivid reminder of the horrors of war these wonderful people have endured. With everyone in Boma experiencing the loss of a family member or friend killed in the past two years of fighting, they are dealing with this trauma as best they can, but were anxious for tools to start the healing process. As we progessed on “The Hike,” it started getting hilly. We took more breaks to drink water and soon discovered the last couple miles, a Murle short cut off the windy road, was becoming intensely steep. By the time God had mercy on us and we arrived at Upper Boma, my t-shirt was completely drenched in sweat.
I offer this snapshot because the question could be asked, “Why Upper Boma?” The answer is that Upper Boma is where God has called SEA Partners to minister. The very best place to be is that place to which God calls us. God has a passionate love for the people of Upper Boma and if SEA Partners had not responded to bring both the gospel and development to this community, then who? The answer, until SEA Partners showed up, was “No One.”
Snapshot #3: CRE (Christian Education) is a class taught to each of the grade levels. On one of the days I assisted in teaching this class the topic was “Men of God”. The example used from scripture was Joseph. I told the story of Joseph and his demise; from being thrown into the pit and sold by his brothers as a slave to his imprisonment in Egypt. But how ultimately this was all part of God’s plan to raise Joseph to a position of power with his brothers coming to Egypt begging him for food. With all the godly themes the teacher could have taught from Joseph, I was so impressed that he chose to focus on forgiveness. He described how Joseph forgave his brothers in the same way that God wants us to forgive others. This is a 180-degree departure from the South Sudanese culture of revenge and “an eye for an eye.” The school is on the cutting edge of helping the next generation of Sudanese make a cultural shift towards lives that honor God. This is huge! If SEA Partners did not accept this call from God and lead the way, then who?
Snapshot #4: The teachers are all devoted Christians serving God in the most difficult of circumstances. SEA Partners has done an amazing job of slowly but surely assisting the Boma people in building an infrastructure of water, education and agriculture so they can grow their own food. However, the past two years of fighting was used by Satan to destroy much of what had been built. The teacher’s one refrigerator and freezer for storing food was stolen by the rebels. Tables, chairs and desks were stolen or destroyed. The satellite dish installed so teachers could communicate with their families back in Kenya was stolen leaving them to face long and difficult periods of time coping with separation from their families with no news of how they were doing. Food is scarce and yet I did not hear one word of complaining; quite the opposite. The teachers feel passionately that they have been called by God to teach these students and if that means going with nothing to eat in the morning because no bananas or mangoes are ripe, then they rejoice over their cup of tea before school starts. This was a vivid reminder of the huge disparity between the abundance we enjoy in America versus the scarcity with which much of the rest of the world lives.
I leave you with a challenge…listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice the next two days. If He would prompt you to give to SEA Partners to assist in rebuilding Upper Boma and touching precious lives for God, then give and rejoice that you have the privilege of being a part of something very special on the other side of the world.