Wednesday, July 22, 2015


When we were in Nigeria, I used to tell supporters often that, "the best way to stop the cycle of poverty is through education". People can get behind that statement because they understand why it is true. After living in a war-torn nation this past year, I have come to expand that quote to say, "the best way to stop the cycle of poverty AND WAR is through education".

I was talking to a South Sudanese friend on the phone the other day and she told me that although war is not currently going on in Mundri, schools have not re-opened because the government isn't paying their teachers. I asked when she thought they would re-open and she said, "when the war ends". With countries like South Sudan, ending a war could take years.

This conversation stirred me up quite a bit because it made me realize one of the ways cycle of war continues for so many years in a country like South Sudan- children not having the opportunity to have an education. What I mean is, in a country that has a history of war, war becomes the only way people know how to deal with issues. Especially when you add in the fact that children live during war and don't have an opportunity for education. When they become adults and things get hard, the only thing they know to resort to is... war. When you are not able to read and reason on your own (due to a lack of being taught to do so), you resort to what you know and have seen your whole life. Also, when you do not have an education, access to good paying jobs is difficult.

Imagine this scenario: You are 20 years old and you are a farmer with a 4th grade education. Due to war, you are displaced from your land and no longer able to farm or earn an income. A respected man from your tribe approaches you with a job offer. He tells you that if you become a rebel and chose to go with him to fight, you will be payed. What would you chose to do? With South Sudan having a 27% functional literacy rate, there are not a lot of other options for most people. Quickly your options become going to a refugee camp (which typically involves walking by foot for days and with limited resources along the way) or fighting.

These difficult realizations have brought me to my knees this week. They have brought me to a place of praying for this to not be true for South Sudan. I have been pleading on behalf of children in Mundri and South Sudan in general- that despite the oppositions, they would somehow have the opportunity for education. I have been praying for teachers to stand against what is going on and volunteer their time so students can have an education. I have asked that we (and more willing teachers who will join me) will be able to return to Mundri soon so we can continue our work of training and building up teachers who love students and want to see them succeed.

Ultimately, it is God who breaks the cycles of war and poverty. He is the one who allows wars to end and new generations to stand against what their forefathers resorted to. He creates resiliency in His people and allows them to be healed and walk in that healing. Please join me in praying for the children of Mundri. Pray with me that they would somehow have the opportunity for an education. Pray with me that God would raise up honest teachers who are willing to sacrifice their time and resources for students to be educated. Hope with me also that we would have more teachers willing to join us on the mission field and that we would be able to return to Mundri soon to continue our work.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Reed Update

What in the world are we doing?!

We are grateful to finally have some answers to this question. We continue to wait, at times with great patience and others with great angst, for all the pieces to fall into place. However, here is what we know so far...

We've just finished teaching at Rift Valley Academy! While it was an unexpected stop and at the beginning we were not too thrilled with it (simply because we wanted to be in South Sudan), we can now say we are very glad we were able to spend a term here. It's been a privilege to get to teach and interact with the kids and staff. It has also been great to form some good relationships with staff here that could end up lasting a long time!

We have some loose ends to tie up here in Kijabe, plus some rest to enjoy, over the next week. July 27-29 we are getting away to a place called Naivasha for a few days with our regional directors to talk, pray and listen before we start the next steps.

Due to the continued unrest in South Sudan it has been decided we should not return this fall as we had hoped. We are uncertain of when things in South Sudan will stabilize enough for us to return and be helpful. 

So, beginning in August we will be spending time in Uganda looking into places to relocate on a semi-temporary basis. We will look at both Kampala, the capital of Uganda and Arua, a good sized city in northwestern Uganda. This does not mean we will not return to Mundri. We simply need to find a place to "settle" until we are able to return. 

The goal is to find a location that will allow us to be in community with South Sudanese people, have good enough communication (internet!) to recruit more people to join us when things stabilize and allow for better access to Mundri.

Both Kampala and Arua offer these things so we want to spend time in each place looking at them through a lens of life and ministry. Arua, in particular, is an exciting option as we've heard there is a Moru community there (the people group we were working with in Mundri) that is large enough to have their own church! This would allow both Theresa and I, Will, to continue in our language learning, something we both want and need.

After 6-8 weeks of this (if you've ever travelled in Africa you'll understand details are hard to nail down so we've left plenty of time!), we will return to the U.S. for a short time. Our focus while in the States is to recruit more teammates, connect with supporters, recruit more teammates, get some rest and, finally, recruit more teammates (want to join us ;)?). I will also be starting my masters degree online during our time at home as well. 

Sometime early 2016 we will return to Uganda (Arua or Kampala) and hope God will open up doors for peace to allow us to return to Mundri during the year. 

During our pre-field training at Mission Training International (MTI) one of the instructors would ask, "What does God do when the missionaries are gone?" and then go on to give many examples of how God moved and worked in the lives of the people while missionaries had to leave for various reasons. So, we're praying this time away is fruitful for both us and the Moru people in Mundri as the Holy Spirit moves in our lives and theirs.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Pray for South Sudan

The reports coming out of South Sudan right now are horrendous. Some of the things going on will make your stomach turn and your heart ache just to read about them. To read a short article about some of what is going on, click here.

What breaks my heart the most about what going on is that is not being talked about worldwide. When we talk about having to evacuate South Sudan, a lot of people have responded with, "Is it bad there right now?". Having no idea of the extent of war and destruction that is taking place. People don't know about what is going on because it is not being talked about on a wide-scale. Why? People don't want to hear about a country who can't get their act together. It is too upsetting to look at a country that only has a history of war- with very short windows of "peace" before war takes over again. It's too devastating to realize the amount of hate a country can have for their own people.

But you know hat happens when you live life with people? They are no longer "a country who can't get their act together". They are Hawa and Riya who are children that fetch water for their family multiple times a day. They are Mary, Amelia and Alice who work long hours every day in order to provide food for their children, nieces and nephews and parents. They are Francis who walks many miles everyday to work in town- only to make the equivalent of a couple dollars (or less) after a long days work. They are people who matter. People who are loved by God and have the hope of a future. People who have nothing to do with the conflict going on around them, but are effected by it everyday. People who have to live with the consequences of a broken government.



Francis Peter
As you hear of tragedies around the world, we don't always have the privilege of knowing specific names and faces of people who are effected by the disaster, but pray for them as if you did. Pray for the people in those communities who are trying to provide for their families. The ones who are walking many miles each day to get water or get to work. Those who are trying to find worth, but are coming up short because they don't know the gospel.

Here are some verses I am praying for the people of Mundri and South Sudan as a whole.

"The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace." Psalm 29:11

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; He protects all his bones. Not one of them will be broken. Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The Lord redeems His servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him." Psalm 34:17-22

"But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God." Nehemiah 9:31

 Please join me in praying for South Sudan and other countries around the world that are dealing with horrible tragedies. Please pray with me that God would intervene in His great mercy. Teach us to pray, O Lord, and teach us to have compassion for those we do not even know.