FROM R.K.’S CORNER
Last summer, Steve and I spent our vacation in rural Idaho with Kirk and Laura Keuter, decade-long friends, business- and ministry partners who, a few years ago, moved from South Florida to the beautiful Northwest. Kirk and Laura used to attend our Bridge prayer meetings faithfully, and Kirk is still a Board member of The Bridge.
Kirk and Laura introduced us to Jason and Jammie Stark and their three children who were temporarily renting their downstairs apartment, while preparing to move as a family to South Sudan to fulfill God’s call to Africa.
At first, we were skeptical — was it not too risky and dangerous for a family of five white, blond, blue eyed Americans to go live among Africans in a poverty-stricken, crime ridden country? However, as we came to know Jason and Jammie – their faith, character, determination, endurance, and commitment to their long term vision which Jason is presenting in this issue, our doubts gave way to admiration and support. They are the real thing — missionaries with a unique combination of deep, abiding faith in God’s goodness, grace, and guidance, combined with down to earth practical know-how! They are an excellent family to sponsor.
If you feel led to help sponsor the Stark family and their ministry via The Bridge on this website, please click on the DONATE button above, and mark your donation SOUTH SUDANESE WORKERS 2.
BIRTHING HOPE IN SOUTH SUDAN by Jason Stark
Jammie and I founded Birthing Hope International in 2009 and have been working in various parts of Africa for the last 10 years. We have just begun a long term work in South Sudan Africa among a people whose hearts and lives have been broken from decades of war. Although their hopes have been crushed by darkness, we are confident they will be restored with the light of the Good News.
B.H.I.’s purpose is Restoring, Equipping, Empowering His people through Christ centered relationships and unified works. We are focused on intentional, relational discipleship that sees people restored in relationship with their Creator, equipped to be obedient disciples of Jesus, and empowered to go out and fulfill their God given purpose for His glory. What we do is both spiritual and practical; we labor, knowing that God’s intent is a whole work of redemption and reconciliation for man and his environment. We plan to be based in Juba for one year with a long term goal of planting a discipleship school, mission base, church and holistic development work among an unreached tribe in the northern region of South Sudan.
Gateway Group – We officially began our home based fellowship & Bible study group 3 weeks ago. These groups are focused on building community bonds, equipping believers to be obedient disciples of Jesus and empowering them to be those who transform their communities. It is a place where people find personal one-on-one support, prayer and encouragement forward.
This kind of group is rare. The traditional church is not well attended. Most people only know “church” as a place to pray and worship on Sunday, were they are not able to ask questions, or share their hearts. We are excited to watch people of all ages, those from different nationalities and backgrounds take hold of truth & live it out every day! So far it is going very well, God has blessed us with a small group full of passion to see others restored, equipped and empowered to BE the church wherever God has placed them.
One of the very obvious practical needs in our community is the necessity for clean water. Everyone in our neighborhood has trouble obtaining water for everyday use, like washing, cleaning, drinking, cooking, bathing, etc… Most people (us included) have to buy water from delivery trucks that bring it in from the river. This water is very dirty, both because of the muddy nature of the Nile River, but also from the fact that many people bathe, wash clothes in, and dump their wastes into it.
In addition to give away Sawyer water filter systems to help families, we also have plans to drill two community wells for ministry partners in and around this area. We were given a small water drilling machine which is now being prepared to be shipped to us through one of our ministry partners; they are committed to raising the funding for the first two wells. We are currently in the planning phases for these wells – working on material lists, pricing and fundraising for the truck that is needed to begin these projects. (Comment by R.K.: Bert Cole bought the drilling machine with the idea that he would stay long term in South Sudan and drill a water well for Simon’s rural tribal people, then one for Matthew at his property and ministry center in Juba, and then for others. Upon Bert’s death, in consultation with his family, we have given the drilling machine to Jason, who is well qualified as a businessman to learn the ropes and become efficient at well-drilling for the people in South Sudan)
We are believing the Lord for a truck to help in the work here. This truck will not only enable us to haul a well drilling machine anywhere we have opportunity to drill wells, but will also be used to haul the piping, rock, laborers who will help us, and other supplies needed to complete the wells. The Isuzu Elf will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $14,000 (import taxes, delivery costs, license and registration included).
“Our House” is the core of what we do. This part of our ministry is in a nutshell — opening up our home, our gates and our hearts as a central hub to our neighbors and to those who want intentional discipleship lived out in the context of family and Christian community. Over the last month, we have been praying, cleaning, rearranging, and preparing the BHI compound for those who will join us to call “Our House” their home. We are so excited and almost ready to dig into this part of Birthing Hope South Sudan! There are three additional houses on the property and we have two families planning to join us so far. One is a South Sudanese couple coming next week, and the other a family of five from Idaho, hoping to arrive late November. We still have one room available and are hoping for a children’s ministry, and teaching interns to join us at the end of the year. Pray for us, for these families and for the future members God would add to our team.
JAMMIE SHARING FROM DAY TO DAY LIVING IN JUBA
We have been here for almost 2 months now. It has been a really crazy time with both amazingly good and amazingly difficult experiences! We thank God that He has given us the strength and endurance to persevere through all the trials, and that He has given us joy through being a part of His work in people’s lives!
We are all settled into a daily routine, are learning the language and have somehow figured out how to do life as a family. Although Jason and I have been to South Sudan numerous times, living everyday life here with children, is a whole different story! We have no municipal running water or sewage. Water is trucked in and stored in holding tanks on our property Electricity is only available for two hours in the morning, and three hours in the evening by generator. Everything is done by hand, and so… our daily schedules have changed quite a bit from what we are used to at home! The food is very expensive here, so the picture above shows our first efforts at planting a vegetable garden in our back yard in the city.
Overall, the girls are doing well with adjusting to life in South Sudan, minus some cold/flu symptoms, pesky mosquito bites and Aliyah losing multiple teeth in one week! All three of them are happy to have made a few friends in the neighborhood and at church. We have not yet begun their home school studies, but are hopeful that we will have the funding for their curriculum by mid-October. Later this year we hope to have a teaching intern join us, not only to help with their school lessons, but also to be a part of our ministry team. He or she will also be working with the kids on outreach projects for the other children in our neighborhood.
God has blessed us with the opportunity to be here, to live right alongside the South Sudanese, while experiencing some of the same struggles, fears, and opportunities to overcome as they have. Through all this, we have had many opportunities to share with people who we are, why we are here, and what God has placed on our hearts for the future. This is what it means to be a witness for Jesus; sometimes it is fun and exciting, but sometimes it is also very humbling and frustrating, too – but we believe that He who called us, will do it!
More information about us and the work we are doing in South Sudan, as well as the opportunity to sign up for our monthly newsletter, can be found at www.birthinghope.org and our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pages/Birthing-Hope-International-Inc/115403088789?ref=bookmarks