In 2016 Ard and Carin De Leeuw and their children joined a Focus Team serving among the Laarim. Following a home assignment in the Netherlands, the De Leeuws returned to South Sudan in 2019 to lead a new ministry team, continuing the work the Focus Team had begun. How is the gospel making a difference to the Laarim? Carin De Leeuw shares some thoughts.
The Laarim have been working hard in their garden plots, sowing and cultivating their crops. This year God has blessed the Laarim with very good rains and that means a good harvest. People are always hungry and a lot of them struggle with malnutrition but now, with the good harvest, happiness is beginning to come back to the eyes of the people. And then this happens…
We hear gunshots and different reports tell us that the Laarim are fighting with a neighbouring people group. In the space of a couple of weeks, men, women and children die because of this fighting. Nobody remembers how it started any more, probably cattle raiding, but both groups take revenge on each other and it takes many lives.
This is Laarim life. Dark and sad. Life is hard. And there is also a spiritual battle going on.
Every week, in different places among the Laarim villages, a couple of hundred people come together to hear and learn more from the Word of God. Despite, or maybe because of, the hard life the Laarim face and the lack of hope, more and more people want to hear the gospel.
“…a couple of hundred people come together to hear and learn more from the Word of God.”
Sometimes it’s hard for them to hear and obey the Word of God because the gospel challenges, and at times, is the opposite of accepted Laarim culture. But every week we see people giving their lives to Jesus. And we see God changing lives.
A neighbour decided to stop beating his wives and children (beating is normal among the Laarim). Teenage boys are deciding that it is wrong to rape girls (rape is common here). Young men are deciding to stop cattle raiding (cattle raiding proves your manhood). Believers are deciding to stop drinking alcohol (alcohol abuse is a big problem here). We see believers changing their behaviour and their interactions with the people around them in positive ways. A nine year old girl is leading different women to faith. A witchdoctor has left her old life behind and started to follow Jesus. A young illiterate woman leads a Bible study group every week where more than hundred men, women and children come to listen to the gospel.
The battle in the Laarim will continue. It’s the darkness against the light. We see more light spots lighting up their communities. And we know, light has won. The light will overcome all of the darkness.