A Dream for South Sudan

When I was a small boy in cattle camp, I had a dream that I would become a pastor among my people. In my dream I was wearing a white collar and standing before the church. I shared my dream with my cousins and they laughed at me.  No one in our family had ever been a pastor.During the terrible times when I was running for my life, I didn’t think much about what I would do in the future.  I just wanted to stay alive.  I ran hundreds of miles to what we thought was a safe place in Ethiopia.  Many died along the way. However, when I finally reached the crowded refugee camp, first in Ethiopia and then in Kenya, I had time again to consider my place in God’s plan. I learned to read so I could study the Bible, and I became a leader among the Sudanese people in the camp.I was chosen along with other “lost boys” to come to America in 2001, but I never forgot my dream. Seven years later, I returned to Sudan and part of my childhood dream became true - I received the white collar I had seen in my childhood dream. I was ordained in the Episcopal Church in Sudan, first as a deacon and then as a pastor.When I returned to Sudan, I was overwhelmed with the needs I saw there. Because of the danger caused by civil conflicts in South Sudan, I thought my original vision of returning to my homeland was not going to be possible soon. So, in June 2017 I travelled to northern Uganda where so many Sudanese people are staying in refugee camps. This seemed to be a good place to start a ministry, especially to children. However, there were so many obstacles - government requirements, proper licensing, and high costs - that I was discouraged. So, I asked God to show me where to begin.One of my heroes in the Old Testament is Nehemiah, because his story is so much like mine.  His people had been taken from their homes in Israel and were living in foreign lands, just like the Sudanese people today. They wept because of what had become of the place they loved, as we weep today when we learn what is happening at home. The beautiful city of Jerusalem he had known as a boy was in ruins, its people scattered. My own city of Bor is not the pleasant place of my childhood, and has been scarred by years of fighting. Now people are returning to see what remains of their home land.Nehemiah is not only my hero. He is my model. I am planning to take the same steps he took to serve his people as they returned home. Thanks to a sister organization, Heart of Africa, I will be making a survey trip back to my home area in South Sudan in January 2018. I will be visiting the city of Bor to see how best to help my people. I do not know at this time what all the needs are or if the area is secure enough for me to return on a permanent basis. However, like Nehemiah, I plan to meet with leaders of the government and churches to see how Africa Sunrise Communities can help.If you believe in this vision, you can help, too. We need to build a team of partners who will stand with us in this venture. Our current need is for personal support. If we carry out this mission, it must be a team effort. I have been working as a home health care worker to provide for my family. However, this is getting me no closer to my vision. I need to take a bold step to fulfill the vision to which God has called me and for which I have been training.Here are two ways you can help:

  1. We need partners who will support us on a monthly basis, so we can give full time to the work in South Sudan.
  2. While I am on this survey trip, Rebecca and I will take a “Family Leave” from our jobs with no pay. That will allow Rebecca to stay home with our children while I am away with no additional costs for child care. Because neither of us will be working, we will need funds for our basic living expenses.

We are at the doorway to our ministry in South Sudan, and I am filled with gratitude for your willingness to listen to my story and to be our partners. Now I ask you to consider what your part in this endeavor might be. Your friend and fellow worker,Jacob Thon GuotExecutive Director, Africa Sunrise CommunitiesP.S.  In Proverbs 19:18, God’s Word says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  I know that my people are perishing, and I know that I have a vision to help them see the Good News and God’s solutions to their problems.