by Joel Gerberich & Dan Fleming, Africa Inland Mission
Greetings from the Boya Hills of South Sudan where we have been living for the past six months. The Laarim people who dwell in these hills are a small, cattle-centric people group which has withstood much war time and other harsh conditions. They are currently experiencing cultural strongholds like cattle-raiding, revenge killing, and alcoholism. The Laarim people practice animism that manifests itself in witch doctors, rituals, and various other “spiritual” blessings. The first Africa Inland Mission (AIM) missionary team arrived here in 2016 with a hope to see Christ’s church raised up.
Since arriving six months ago, our main focus has been on language learning, immersing in the culture, and becoming a part of the community. We have been met with numerous challenges and some hard days. After one week of orientation we were sent to live with a local family for a homestay week of sleeping, eating, and living as the Laarim do. I (Joel) enjoyed my first taste of authentic Laarim food, learned some local songs, and saw the realities of death and alcoholism that are so prevalent here. By day seven I was feeling more than ready to speak some English. I (Dan) found that in the midst of constant misunderstanding and confusion, homestay played a significant part in me seeing people here as individuals with their own personalities who are not as different as I had thought. Since then, God has continued to be faithful through the endlessly exhausting days of learning, as well as the joyous days of adventure and growth.
We are grateful to be transitioning from living to ministering, as we cast vision for how we will share thoth ci Nyekuco, the words of God, with our friends and neighbors. We hope to use the Jesus Film in addition to 25 chronological Bible stories as initial modes of evangelism, and we trust that God continues to work through our lives. Our organization’s emphasis on prayer and intimacy with Jesus has been a beautiful foundation on which to enter this next season.
Outside of what Dan and I are doing, we are here with a team. The previous few years of ministry here have been filled with much sowing, spiritual warfare, and fruit — the parable of the sower (Luke 8) shines light on the realities of gospel proclamation. Right now, two of our teammates, Noblesse and Angelo, are walking through a discipleship curriculum with a number of believers for the first time. This has been incredibly encouraging for our team, and while there are still challenges with language, working in a mostly illiterate people group, the Spirit is at work. A boy named Logemet recently shared, “I now understand we need to pray in order to be strong in temptation,” as they went through Luke 4:1-13. He has also been sharing the stories he is learning with his parents and siblings! Please join us in praising God and praying to Him “who makes things grow”! (Acts 3:7 NIV)
Joel and Dan are missionaries with Africa Inland Mission. AIM is passionate about seeing Christ-centered churches established and thriving among all of Africa’s peoples with a priority on the unreached.