Fleeing from Danger
Martin Otwere, 15 years old from Torit, South Sudan, woke up one morning and life would never be the same.
He and his family had frantically fled from South Sudan like so many other South Sudanese.
The conflict between the president of South Sudan, Kiir (Dinka tribe), and his deputy, Machar (Nuer tribe), had already devastated many parts of South Sudan since 2013. But when Machar fled the country back in August 2016, some South Sudanese hoped peace would come.
But peace didn’t come.
Since that time, the military has split into two factions – the government soldiers and the so-called ‘rebel’ soldiers. And it is these vengeful, opposing forces that have been ripping through villages, claiming territory for themselves, burning homes, killing and kidnapping many, and raping women and children, leaving little in their paths. The atrocities are unthinkable for most of us. There are reports that children as young as 2 years old have been raped! (Source link) The situation has become so alarming, the UN Human Rights Commission is signaling major alarm bells that South Sudan is in danger of a “Rwanda-like genocide” with violence actively enroute to ethnic cleansing.
The conflict is so complex, it is hard to grasp in words how such a schism could happen amongst fellow countrymen. South Sudan became an independent country in 2011 to be a Christian nation that would be a witness to those around the world. But, as Christians we know that the enemy opposes any such testimony and instead seeks to kill and destroy. Sin, ambition, and evil have all combined to create a frightening conflict that is destroying many. This is clearly not just a horrifying physical battle, but a spiritual one as well.
A New Life for Martin
Martin is almost like any other 15-year old boy.
He wants a life to learn, study, grow, laugh and play.
But he, some of his family members, and 1.5 million other South Sudanese were now living in cramped tent villages, receiving low levels of food rations, experiencing malnutrition and still healing from the trauma of seeing parents and villagers shot dead, aunties, moms and sisters being raped, and family huts being burned.
But there is one thing that has given Martin hope, joy, and abundant life in the midst of this place. And that is Jesus!
Before all of this, back in his home village, Martin had joined Naraboni CIC Club in 2013. There he enjoyed every bit of weekly CIC Club activities and developed a deep passion and love for the word of God.
In 2014 Victor, the CIC Volunteer Coordinator in Torit, invited Martin to attend a CIC Child Leaders Training that was held in the same year and through this training, Martin received Christ as His Lord and Savior! Through the training, Martin was inspired and equipped to be a servant leader for Christ, and returned home to teach the word of God to his peers. He also helped lead his local CIC Club.
What the Enemy Meant for Evil, God Turned for Good
In 2015 the conflict intensified in South Sudan, which forced Martin and his family to flee to Uganda where they sought refuge at the Pagirinya Refugees Camp. The passion and love for the CIC Club Ministry still bubbled in Martin’s heart. While Martin found the refugee camp a place of broken-hearted trauma, loss and a sense of meaninglessness, Martin knew that Jesus is Life and Light – and His hope and truth can shine hope and meaning and joy into any darkness.
15-Year Old Martin Brings Good News to a Dark Place
Through this zeal and vision, the Lord inspired Martin to start a CIC Club in this dark place without any directives or help from a CIC leader. He used what the Lord had taught him in CIC Club and Leadership Training to start ministry where the Lord planted him.
Little by little the club grew as many children who were idle began attending the weekly club activities led by Martin. This not only ministered deeply to the children but also to the parents, who were also drawn to the Club to hear the Word of God.
Eventually the CIC Club developed into a ministry and fellowship of both adults and children, since there was no church.
We are told that when AIC church missionaries came to the camp they were amazed to find a vibrant fellowship happening, all due to the initiative and leadership of a 15-year old boy! They adopted the church fellowship.
And as we speak today the CIC Club is still meeting with approximately 63 children and the new church is additionally impacting about 50 adults.
It is the Lord who works in these children, like Martin, “both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
We thank you Lord!
If you would like to help share the love and truth of Christ, disciple, and equip more children like Martin in the refugee camps and in the CIC Clubs still operating in South Sudan, click here.
Note: We are thankful that the Lord has made a way for many to safely reach refugee camps, but we also are painfully aware of the horrors and tragedy still going on in South Sudan. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and the terror continues. Famine, death, and danger continue to rip through this country. Of the 12 million population in South Sudan, roughly 2 million have been internally displaced and more than 1.5 million have fled the country. The UN is projecting 6 million are facing starvation.
Please pray for all of South Sudan for provision, protection, peace, healing, and restoration.