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AIM are seeking to strengthen the work which has begun amongst the unreached Laarim in South Sudan and to fulfil their request to have the word of God taught to them. Phil Byler shares;
‘What we need’
The visibly agitated Chief of Police declared emphatically, “This man [visiting AIM leader] has said they are not coming to build schools for our children, they are not coming to build hospitals for us, and they are not coming for development. They are only coming to teach us the word of God.” My anxious ears waited for his next sentence to be translated, to define his intent, and to set the stage for AIM’s welcome, or not, into the Laarim communities.
I was once walking along a path in Loryok where I lived, when a young man approached me. I expected him to beg from me like many other strangers frequently did. The young man introduced himself as Angelo. He said that he heard I was doing the work of God so he wanted to meet me. I invited him to my place and we sat and talked about the gospel. Angelo said that he had been learning about the Bible from some Kenyan missionaries in the town where he attended school. A few days later, Angelo left the area to go back to school. When we met again the following year Angelo was beaming with joy. He told me that during his first visit he did not really know what it meant to be a Christian, but now he had been born again. Ever since, Angelo has remained active in the church where he attends school, and during holidays he comes and joins with me to reach out to his own people. Angelo frequently talks about how he looks forward to finishing school so that he can be a missionary.
By Jacob Borgelt
“That is exactly what we need!” he continued, “our young people do not know the word of God and we need someone to come and teach them.”
My huge relief quickly shifted back to concern as he concluded, “It does not matter if you are Catholic, or Protestant, or Muslim, you come and teach us the word of God.”
This Police Chief request happened seven years ago. Further research revealed an identical plea from a Laarim chief reported by a Wycliffe survey team from 25 years earlier. War-induced insecurity over the intervening 25 years was the primary reason for failure to fulfil the request. Two young men are currently on the ground beginning disciple-making work among the Laarim and AIM is redoubling efforts to mobilise a team of ten adults to join them in 2016.
Isolated from outside
The Laarim live much as their ancestors have lived for generations, keeping livestock and living from the land, isolated from the outside world, devoid of modern development and without resources other than word-of-mouth communication to broaden their horizons. They practice an African Tribal Religion believing and fearing the spirit world who controls their lives. How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? How can they hear without someone preaching to them? How can they preach unless they are sent?
Longing for the day
Jacob is already teaching Bible Stories in the Laarim mother tongue. The rest of the team will devote themselves to learning the language while modelling Christ-likeness and love through relationships. Through these they will learn and develop culturally appropriate ways to make disciples of Jesus and teach them to obey all that he has commanded, while believing that Jesus, “will be with you always, even to the very end of the age” Matthew 28:20.
We envision the day when the Laarim are no longer unreached and when the Police Chief’s request will be fulfilled by the apostle John’s prophetic words of: “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one” 1John 2:14