Editor’s Note: In November 2017 Precept Africa directors Stuart and Teresa Kemsley traveled to Uganda to conduct a Precept training in South Sudanese refugee camps. Teresa agreed to let us share her report:
“I’m writing this having just spent a few days amongst precious brothers and sisters in South Sudanese Refugee Camps. Words fail me! There are seven camps in total with over a million people displaced and scattered across the border. Stuart and I had to fly in a small plane into Arua. There is no airport—only a dusty, gravel landing strip.
The roads that take you to the camps are the most horrendous we have ever experienced! Getting to Bidi Bidi camp, which is the largest refugee camp in Africa and the second largest in the world, takes over three hours. It’s not a road—it is dirt track filled with potholes and deep crevices that the driver must avoid! Stuart, who never struggles with motion sickness felt it very badly. I was so thankful that I had taken medication before we left! I have never prayed as hard as I prayed during these trips to the camps!
What you see on arrival is indescribable! As far as the eye can see there are dwellings made with poles and white plastic that the United Nations (UN) provides. The UN doesn’t provide for the building of churches, so the people sacrificially donate a portion of their rationed food to the church. The pastor collects this food and sells it to have enough money to buy the plastic and poles from the UN.
One of the days we were there was food distribution day. This happens once a month and they never know when it’s going to happen. There is no given date or plan. It just gets announced on the day! This supply needs to last them for the month, so they dare not miss it. They need to walk to receive their ration of maize, beans, salt and oil. That’s it! That’s the only food they receive! My heart was wrenched watching the precious mothers doing their best to care for their children—so very hard under these conditions!
Stuart trained the people to study the Bible using the 40-Minute Study Being a Disciple: Counting the Real Cost. It was so powerful.
These brothers and sisters are paying the cost daily! They have had to leave their homeland, homes and possessions. They’ve seen loved ones murdered and have been separated from living ones. Many of the men have been killed, resulting in numerous widows left stranded with young children to care for. Countless young ladies have been raped and have had to give birth in the camps with limited health facilities. There are UN medical facilities, but the refugees need to walk far to get to them. How can you walk if you are in labor or sickly?!
We were so encouraged when we saw these people devour the training and study. It is the pure truth found in the Word of God alone—truth that can bring peace, comfort and encouragement to their souls.
In God’s Word is the hope for those in despair—not hope to make their circumstances go away, but hope to keep pressing on! We were able to give each person that attended their own study book and a pen. The youth have nothing to do in the camp and laze around which then encourages bad behavior and crime. The pastors’ hearts are to have Bible studies on a regular basis to keep them occupied and abiding in the Word.
Out of the one training we did in Imvepi refugee camp alone, thirty-five groups are starting, with ten to twelve people in each group. For the second half of next year, they plan 350 groups with approximately 3,500 studying. This is only one church! We have a follow up plan for our coordinator in Uganda to go back on a regular basis to provide more resources and do further training.
Many of the older people struggle with English, and it was beautiful to see how they helped each other in discussion time. They pleaded with us to translate into Bari, their heart language and to bring back more studies. This always breaks our hearts! I long to be their voice, pleading on their behalf and I will continue until it becomes a reality!
This need stretches across all the camps with over 1,000,000 people in total where Bari is the predominant language. They need resources in their home language! They want to study! They are crying to study!
I am SO thankful for Precept! I have seen firsthand over and over again the power and impact the resources have had on peoples’ lives! The fact that the 40-Minute studies have the Scripture printed in the book is wonderful, as many of the people have no Bibles.
The next 40-Minute study we are (Lord willing!) planning to take into the camps is Forgiveness: Breaking the Power of the Past. Can you imagine the impact this study will have?!
These people are hungry for more of God—desperate to understand the Word of God and to make sense of their situation. Only by abiding in the Word will they receive the peace and assurance they need to face each day.
We covet your prayers as we begin to investigate and start the process of translating into the Bari language. We also need to go back into the camps with more books so the groups can continue and multiply. These are fellow believers—brothers and sisters in need of what we have in abundance.
In the midst of their poverty, we can provide for their greatest need–access to being in God’s Word. Please pray with us as we trust God for this to be a reality.”