Rick Ralston from Harvest Community Church in Hillsboro, Oregon and Micheal Harris, SEA Partners Board Member, returned from a very fruitful trip to Boma on Saturday, March 28th. The main focus of this visit was to encourage and train our staff, teach in the Sunday church service, conduct school devotions and share in the classrooms, and meet with tribal leaders to encourage them of our continued commitment to their community. Rick Ralston is a mental health professional and trained in trauma counseling. Rick did an outstanding job training our staff in practical matters related to helping the Murle people suffering from trauma to experience renewed hope. I taught on the person of the Holy Spirit, a subject the men on our staff told me they had never before heard. The consensus of all was that God’s presence was with us and He blessed all that Rick and I shared. It was a very fun and rewarding trip!
Anytime you visit Boma you come home with many stories and thoughts regarding what God is doing through SEA Partners in bringing life to the students of Faith Learning Center and their families. I want to tell you three stories that are a good summation of our time in Boma; one is humorous, one inspirational and the third truly a blessing.
#1 — Our Criminal Donkey
Meet one of our newest staff members. Don’t let that simple innocent face fool you, this donkey is likely the world’s first to be a convicted criminal. Let me explain.
Because we don’t have a truck in Boma, we depend on hiring porters from the community to take our supplies up the mountain. This has become very expensive, so our staff decided to buy a donkey from the Kachipo tribe to carry the heavier loads…….. great idea! The first time they took the donkey to the airstrip to carry up supplies, he was arrested by the police and taken to jail. We had to pay a hefty fine to spring him and was told we could never try this again as he was taking jobs from the people. The donkey had no name so I decided he needed to be named after an infamous criminal. He is now Clyde, after the outlaw associated with Bonnie. I think this incident illustrates perfectly the kind of challenges faced daily as we move forward in Boma, South Sudan.
#2 — 7th Grader Susan
You need to hear the story of Susan, who at grade 7 is the most highly educated girl in Boma history. Susan started school as a kindergartner when Faith Learning Center first opened in 2007. Up until this January, 3 of the 7 girls who started with Susan still attended school. In February, two of these girls were married off by their fathers, leaving just one, Susan. Susan loves school and has a desire to become a doctor.
A few months ago Susan’s father, who is a Kachipo, accidentally shot and killed a young woman in his village about 20 miles from Boma. He was arrested and the father of the slain girl vowed to kill Susan in revenge. Susan ran to Lower Boma with her mother and brothers so she could be protected. After a few days, Susan decided that going to school was worth the risk of being killed and returned to Upper Boma and her 7th grade class. Last week her father was released and took two rifles to the father seeking revenge, settling the debt and freeing Susan from attending school in fear. I know her commitment to getting an education will be blessed by God to become a powerful model for other girls in the community. Please pray for Susan that her desire to attend secondary school and then university would be realized in a culture that puts a very low priority on education for women.
#3 — Sunday Church in Boma
I was honored to bring the message at church on Sunday and I preached the Gospel from a story found in 2 Kings 6 and 7. God’s presence was evident throughout the service which ended with 23 people coming forward to receive Jesus Christ. The picture below shows some of those men, women and children.
Each one of these folks were prayed over and there was much rejoicing. Please pray that God would have His way in these open hearts and the Holy Spirit would lead each one to a solid knowledge of Jesus Christ. Also, pray that we would have the means to provide a place to have baptisms. I talked about the importance of baptism after a decision to live for Jesus and we wrote down all the names of these new believers to be baptized at the earliest possible time. Despite all the bad news of the past year and a half, the Good News is always powerful to bring His Light into the darkest of situations.
I want to thank Pastor Matt and the Harvest Community Family for sending Rick to Boma; he represented your church and the Lord very well. I also want to thank all of you who lifted Rick and I up in prayer these past 2 weeks. We had many “interesting” little incidents that kept us focused on Christ as both our strength and travel agent; we acknowledge your prayers as providing for us what was needed in each moment of our trip.
As Rick can witness, we are doing so very much in Boma with minimal resources as the Lord continues to provide through His people whose hearts He touches with this ministry. If you got a chuckle from the story of Clyde, were inspired by Susan’s commitment to get an education and were blessed by God moving to bring the lost to Himself, please know this may just be the Holy Spirit prompting you to become involved…..or more involved…..in giving to SEA Partners and our work in Boma.
It is good to be back home and realize once again how very blessed we are to live in America.
To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Jude 24-25
PS. If you feel led to support God’s work in Boma, please consider an online gift to help us continue sharing His love with the students and their families.