Andrew & Anna Beckham
Andrew, Anna & Phoebe lived, along with an international team, among the Laarim people and sought to share the hope of the gospel with them.
South Sudan became the world’s newest country on 9 July 2011. It was the outcome of the 2005 peace deal that ended Africa’s longest-running civil war. The majority of the population adhere to Christianity. Only 18% call themselves Muslim unlike Sudan, which is 97%.
Find out more about opportunities to serve in South Sudan
The Laarim are spread in small settlements across the rugged Boya mountain range, around 250km east of Juba. Laarim life revolves around their cattle and for many is also dominated by traditional African beliefs and spiritualistic rituals.
The Beckhams joined a Focus team working among the Laarim in August 2016. Their initial focus was on cultural understanding and language development, learning from the Laarim and by sharing their lives, building relationships with them. Ultimately, we and the Beckhams wanted the Laarim to have the opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus and to see God powerfully at work, changing lives and growing his church amongst them, through his gospel message. The Beckhams worked with this fledgling church to enable, encourage and disciple the new believers.
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.
Andrew and Anna believed that God had specifically equipped and impassioned them to be part of this work through their medical and midwifery training, seeing their healthcare roles as a loving adornment of the gospel they proclaim. They looked for opportunities to care holistically for members of the Laarim, addressing both their physical and spiritual needs in Jesus.
In the summer of 2018 the family returned to the UK for medical leave. After an intense fight with stomach cancer, on the 18th November 2018 Anna Beckham was called home to find long-awaited rest. Andrew shares, “Her death is a terrible loss in the lives of those that loved, admired and respected her. And yet, despite our tears of sorrow, it is with great joy we witnessed her resilience, and humour, and faithfulness as she followed her Lord Jesus to the end. Our Anna, has always been, and wonderfully will forever be, his Anna. Praise God for letting us enjoy her for a while!”
Partner with the Beckhams
Andrew, Anna & Phoebe Beckham lived among the unreached Laarim of South Sudan seeking to reach them with the gospel returning to the UK in 2018.
If you would like to partner with the Beckhams in your prayers, gifts and practical support, please download and complete this form and return to Freepost RTJH-JRZE-XXKX Africa Inland Mission, Halifax Place, Nottingham NG1 1QN.
For any queries, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Latest prayer points
- 21 September 2018
Andrew & Anna are currently in the UK on Medical Leave. Andrew writes, “After two weeks on the ward [Anna] was discharged back home to continue her rehabilitation, aided in large part by the necessity to negotiate a floor strewn with Lego pieces and cuddly toys. Having made reasonable progress we attended the oncology appointment and we are grateful that Anna commenced chemotherapy this morning. Due to continued significant symptoms and general underlying weakness this has been started as an inpatient in hospital while the medical team assess how Anna is able to tolerate the proposed treatment plan. God willing Anna will be able to come home later this week and continue chemotherapy for the coming two months before further reviews to assess its efficacy. This is not a stage we thought we would be at one month ago. We praise God for many answers to prayer that have brought us this far. This afternoon Anna and I sat together to commit her, our family and this medical process once again to God’s good and perfect plans. As we read together of God’s steadfast love for us… we were encouraged to put our hope not in the chemotherapy drugs themselves, nor in the wisdom and skill of the medical teams, but in God alone. Only his faithfulness is unfailing. We pray that he will be our portion whatever the coming months hold.”
- 17 August 2018
The Beckhams were serving in South Sudan amongst the Laarim although they are currently in the UK. Andrew writes “Information gathered over the last 2 weeks has proven that Anna definitely has cancer of the stomach as suspected. Additionally, and sadly, it appears to be both aggressive and advanced. The surgeons believe it to have almost certainly grown beyond a curative operation. We received this news earlier this week, and have since been waiting for further tests to help resolve any lingering uncertainty… Phoebe and I are still adjusting each day to this new rhythm of life, and learning how to express and share our sadness. We are incredibly blessed to be well supported by our families and church community. We have felt extremely privileged, and greatly encouraged, to experience your love and care, and to know the prayers being offered on behalf of Anna at this time.”
- 20 July 2018
“One of [Anna’s] most memorable experiences was in attendance of a birth in the village of Kuduli. Kuduli has felt for a long time to us a spiritually dark place, with frequent stories of the occult and several hangings during our life here. Any potential for a beautiful and natural delivery was not spared this spiritual oppression, as Anna discovered on her very first encounter with the Laarim traditional birth process. A routine request for Anna to assist with a girl of around 16 years having her first baby led her out to a distant homestead we have not previously entered. She examined the expectant mother to find she was fully dilated and ready to push. On announcing this, the mood seemed to change, and Anna’s voice was no longer heard. The already compact house became overcrowded as men and women entered. An apparently spiritual ceremony of chanting and sprinkling an unidentified substance over the gathered onlookers led to what can only be described as a frenzy. Women screamed while suddenly pushing on and punching the abdomen. One man restrained the young woman by the head while another whipped her with a stick. Another woman, preparing to catch the coming baby, would occasionally break from role to slap the mum-to-be. In disbelief Anna sat unable to diffuse the chaos and prayed through tears of despair. After some time, exhausted by the effort, and with no apparent effect, the crowd released the traumatised woman and called Anna back to assist. Unsure what else to do in the face of this oppressive atmosphere Anna offered to take the young woman to the clinic, to which the mum readily agreed. After a short car journey, and in the relative peace of a clinic room the baby came quickly and smoothly. We thank God for a healthy physical outcome, even if the spiritual sickness evident here continues to make us reel. We understand more each day that much of this is common practice throughout Laarim. Of all our anticipated challenges in working in a remote and traditional setting like these back-water hills of South Sudan, the reality seems often much more brutal and deprived than we had imagined. How much this people needs its redeemer for every aspect of their culture and life!”