Finding hope in God’s Word when all seemed lost!
In South Sudan, civil war has forced hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee for their lives. Many of these people lost their belongings, their loved ones, and sometimes, their hope.
Fleeing with only the clothes on their backs, Pastor John, his wife, three children, and his 70 year old mother left because of deadly tribal attacks in their community of Nasir in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan.
They joined thousands of other refugees seeking the safety of nearby Ethiopia. It was there they heard of the atrocities that killed many people in their community.
Pastor John knew that though they had lost all material things, they were blessed of God to be together.
Eventually he, his family, and other refugees from Nasir ended up in a refugee camp. There Pastor John received two Talking Bibles to help minister to his hurting community.
“Before we finally settled into the camp, we relied on the verses we had memorized and prayer, but as soon as we received these Talking Bibles they became our own Bibles,” the pastor says.
Describing the refugees, Pastor John estimates 90 percent of Jewi Camp is women and children because so many men died in the conflicts.
He says, “These people had experienced great tragedies, and it was easy for them to lose hope for life and fall away.” The pastor adds, “I knew I needed to show them the love of God—it would give them hope—and the Talking Bible was the way to tell them.”
From the beginning, the refugees would gather and simply listen to Scripture for two or more hours. Pastor John particularly liked to use the well-known parables of the Sower and the Soils from Matthew 13 to help people. He says the seed falling on stony ground is a warning and encouragement for the people to not only receive the Word of God with joy, but to continue with God in their present time of tribulation and persecution.
Those comforting gatherings developed into formal Talking Bible listening groups where Pastor John taught leaders to study through the New Testament chapter by chapter. Soon, the two Talking Bibles were each being used several times each week by these listening groups.
The Talking Bibles were not only instrumental in helping gather the scattered and hurting sheep that had once been a church in Nasir, but also in reaching new people. The Talking Bible listening groups continue, but there are now ten Presbyterian churches in Jewi Camp, some with more than 800 people attending on Sundays!
The refugee pastor says he has learned how to depend on God by having everything removed. He sums up his experience by saying, “We are a displaced people, refugees, but we’ve learned to pray in the open, worship without shelters, and through it all God is with us in His Talking Bible.”