Monday, July 23, 2018


We just had to introduce Derek to our friend Mary!  Having just finished lunch at a local South Sudanese restaurant, we ambled through the “suk” (market) where we were suddenly and happily detained by a parade of friends whom we have gotten to know over the past year.  First there was the stately Santo, then there was Wanny with his incorrigible stutter, then the young and omnipresent Simon who lives on the streets, and then of course we also stopped to see the market vendors whom we have grown to know and love  – Kapeeta, Amiina, Saiida, and Alima.  After the hoopla of shaking hands, exchanging greetings and pleasantries as we introduced Derek, we made our way to our destination, Mary’s Tea Shop.  Though being the hottest time of day, we sat and ordered coffee and tea.  Familiar faces and other patrons soon filled the joint as we enjoyed lively conversations in this small container building with chairs closely facing each other, forcing conversation and community!  We told Derek when he arrived to South Sudan that Mary’s Tea Shop has become to us like the 80’s hit TV show “Cheers!” – a place where everyone knows your name, a place where everyone is always glad you came.  Derek was in seventh heaven, exclaiming when we got home, “This is what everyone wants!  We just don’t know how to get it.” 

Rev. Derek Macleod, pastor of St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church
in Wilmington, NC, treats us to dinner on the Nile!  

Paul knocked at our door late Sunday afternoon.  “I just need someone to talk to and pray with.  It will only take five minutes.”  Paul quickly shared how the reality of South Sudan had suddenly struck him square.  He need to talk, to pray, to cry.  We sat and listened and prayed with our brother.  He had been reading the book of our friend, Rev. John Chol Daau, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan who was displaced from his village when he was fourteen, his people attacked from the army and the government in the North.  John would spend at least thirteen years in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, separated from family, surviving by faith and the grace of God.  His story, the story of his people, the story of his land and the story of his young country struck a bull’s eye on our friend’s heart, leaving a forever impression.       

Rev. Paul Hensley, second from left, is a close friend from Fuller Theological Seminary-
he is an Anglican priest and has come to teach an intensive course
at Nile Theological College where I (Bob) teach

Revs. Derek Macleod and Paul Hensley have braved the ominous and foreboding travel admonitions to South Sudan provided by the US State Department.  They have found ways to mollify the fears expressed by family, friends and church members.  They have come to see us in South Sudan with a determined and courageous spirit, a willingness to fully engage with us, our neighborhood, our church partners, our students, and our friends.  They have encouraged us.  They have given us new eyes to see our life here in a new light.  They have spoken prophetic words of hope.  They have represented well not only their churches but also the Risen Christ.  Their coming has put “wind into our sails!”  They have reminded us that we are not alone.   

Visitors!  What would we do without them?  One of the many proverbs we learned in Congo says, “Nzubu kayi ne benyi, neafue,” or in English, “A home that does not have visitors will die.”  You can bet your bottom dollar that we are grateful for Paul and Derek.  May the Lord bless them for sharing with us the joys and challenges of life here in South Sudan.      

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