John Lago in the blue shirt, and Pastor Alfred
Elisha on the left, and John, watering a bed of
cabbage seedlings. The field around the seedling
beds has newly planted watermelon.
Kevin’s a good man, a loving husband, and in the past I’ve enjoyed working with him because of his professionalism and excellent humor. When I joined World Renew he laughed and joked, saying “… that’s an extremely ambitious name; this world is in a terrible state, and you and a small bunch of people think you can renew it?” We had a good email discussion but he remains skeptical.
“… that’s an extremely ambitious name; this world is in a terrible state, and you and a small bunch of people think you can renew it?”
People are generally doubtful about any plans for change, especially positive change and renewal, but we Christians identify renewal, participate in it, and see the results. This helps build our faith. Having our faith enhanced by World Renew’s work is a very useful byproduct, but the main product, of course, is the renewal itself—the positive change that happens among the communities we serve. However, in farming, industry, church life, and almost everything else, the byproducts matter. God makes these things we see as byproducts, so they’re not just a part of the packaging or the stuff left over after the party.
I recently met four men in a field in South Sudan on a hot, humid day at the end of the dry season. It was just a few days before the start of the great season of rain which will pour over this land from April onward. These four men are experiencing renewal through new opportunities and prayers are being answered. They see God at work in their community, and they’re also getting the byproducts.
The four men are Pastor Alfred Khamis, John Lago, Elisha Akero, and John Kepo. They’re members of an organizing team working on more advanced vegetable production, funded by Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) and World Renew, which will help 160 families produce more than enough vegetables for themselves and a surplus for sale in the local markets. These four men are doing new things, activities they’ve never done before:
- They’re farming in the dry season; previously they only farmed in the wet season.
- They’re growing new types of vegetables they’ve never grown before.
- They’re increasing the family food supply and achieving greater variety in family diet.
- They’re working as a team and learning new skills.
- They’re getting into marketing.
- Instead of being at the lower levels in a harsh, survival economy, they’re starting to participate in a market economy where they are players, not victims.
Even my old friend Kevin, in his skepticism, whose only awareness of God occurs at Christmas or at funerals, can see that this world is in a terrible state—Kevin himself has said so. He may not see it in these terms, but the truth is that God’s plan has been rejected and the worldly plan that replaced it isn’t working.
When I next see Kevin, he’ll probably joke and ask if we’ve renewed the world yet. I’ll tell him that over 160 farming families in South Sudan are experiencing renewal in more ways than one. He may say that it’s just another aid project, but Pastor Alfred Khamis, John Lago, Elisha Akero (pictured on the right), John Kepo, and their families can testify that Christian love, timely investments, faith, and plenty of hard work are bringing renewal to their lives. And what’s the byproduct? Renewal brings the benefits that are seen, but it also builds the faith of those who experience it; God provides food for the table and encouragement in a hostile world. Thank you, Lord, for the product and the byproducts. You are a bountiful Lord; seeing You at work encourages us to carry on.
Pray for South Sudan
- Please pray for peace in this land. Peace so that children can go to school. So that people can plant seeds and grow crops.
- Peace so that markets function and so the economy works.
- Peace so that World Renew staff are safe as they do the work.
- Pray for peace so that people don't have to become refugees or become internally displaced again.
- Thank you for praying, we love those who pray, and we pray for you, too.
- This morning at the office prayer meeting we thanked God for World Renew and for CFGB. Those two prayers of appreciation are now regularly on our prayer list.
World Renew South Sudan