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Approximately seven people groups in South Sudan have never heard the good news of Christ. Why? Because they are some of the most difficult people on earth to reach.
Difficult people to reach
Some are difficult to reach because of their location, like the Toposa. They are migrant cattle herders so don’t stay in one place long enough for there to be a settled ministry amongst them. Or the Laarim who live along Boya Hills, which are extremely difficult to access. Or they can be difficult to reach spiritually, like the Didinga, who cling to their anti-Christian rituals. But our call is not to fear the difficulty but to go to the unreached, to the difficult places; because the Toposa, the Laarim and the Didinga, like us, desperately need the hope of the Gospel.
The cost & struggle of following
For many new Christians in South Sudan, the cost of following Christ can be so hard when it’s just so counter cultural. This is just one story and one example:
Last year a young Didinga man, who had responded to God’s call on his life some years earlier, was growing in Christ when he faced a life-threatening challenge. He had taken a wife a year previously and was expected to pay the bride price which he had negotiated. However his wife’s family gradually increased its demands for him to fulfil the cultural marriage rites, most of which are anti-Christian. When he refused he was threatened with his life and had to leave the community and take refuge a day’s drive away. This is just one very common problem that new believers face as they struggle to live a Christ-like life in a very anti-Christian culture. Please pray for these young Christians, that they would demonstrate the beauty and goodness of Christ in their lives and would impact the growth of the local church as potential leaders.
South Sudan’s seven indigenous unreached people groups are mainly concentrated in the south east, ranging from 10,000 to over half a million people in each group, while many of the non-indigenous unreached people groups lie on the borders with Sudan.
The Lopit, Didinga and Laarim
We are currently working amongst the Lopit, Didinga and Laarim. Ministry amongst the Lopit has been carried out by numerous mission organisations and churches over many years. More recently, two Training in Ministry Outreach (TIMO) teams have worked amongst the Lopit, which we shared about in January (eu.aimint.org/lopitfeb2015). AIM has also been engaged with the Didinga since 2007, but the ministry has been fraught with numerous difficulties and setbacks. Next year we hope to launch a renewed emphasis on disciple-making using a team based in the town of Nagishot. Then in the future, we hope to establish a more remote team on the eastern slopes of the Didinga Mountains. Amongst the Laarim people we plan to establish an entirely new ministry initiative. Andrew Wallace left the UK to join this team last month, as a forerunner to the new Focus team (eu.aimint.org/newmemberjan2015). We have been praying for an opportunity to engage with the Laarim in a more concerted manner for many years and it looks like God is opening the doors for this to take place. Our current task is to establish five housing units in this demanding and challenging environment.
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What about the other groups?
We are also looking into a partnering venture to take the gospel to the eastern Toposa and Nang’atom peoples and the Logirr, who live at the south end of the huge and majestic Dongatona mountain range. During 2016 we hope to complete surveys amongst these peoples and develop strategies for taking the Gospel to them. There are also new and exciting opportunities for gospel ministry on the northern border where tens of thousands of unreached Sudanese people have moved for safety, in four large refugee camps.
For all these plans we pray that God will give us the wisdom to know how to go about making his kingdom known.