Justin Ahrens is a long-timer supporter and member of the LIA USA advisory council. He and his creative firm, Rule29, have provided pro bono and discounted branding, design and marketing services to LIA for the last four years.
July 9th marked the second anniversary of South Sudan’s independence from its northern counterpart. Last year I had the privilege to visit the work LIA is doing in Rumbek, South Sudan with my and LIA’s friend, Brian MacDonald of Wonderkind Studios. Our goal was to try to understand some of the story present in our world’s newest country. Story has become so vital to our understanding, communicating or relating to something in this big wonder-filled world of ours. We felt we had to SEE South Sudan before we could help tell it.
On our previous visits to Africa, we landed in a major city like Addis Abba, Ethiopia or Nairobi, Kenya. From there we would work in the local slums, then make our way out to the rural areas. On this trip we landed in Nairobi and took a plane to the Kenyan border. We went through customs and then took another plane that landed on a dirt runway in Rumbek. What was most shocking to us was the fact that we were seriously isolated and in a whole new world.
We spent the next seven days listening, sweating a lot, and experiencing as much as we could of the South Sudanese. We conducted interviews, played, ate and lived in a compound right in the middle of the community. While we were there we visited a local clinic, a school and several villages, where we watched the local life at work. We also spent time testing prototypes for educational materials we’re working on with Kent State University – more about that in a future post.
With the help of some gracious donors, we were able to make a book for LIA: a collection of the amazing people we met and interviewed combined with facts and realities of their world – a world that we as a society can help evolve. Not an in-depth look at South Sudan, but an introduction to the beauty, the people, the struggle, and most of all, the hope that can be witnessed there.
Rule29 is honored to be working with organizations like Life In Abundance who spend their days helping to empower those who need it most. This project is just a tiny piece of what we get to do to help build awareness of the new story of South Sudan. We hope you’ll consider purchasing a copy of the book from LIA. Here’s a quick trailer of what went into the making of the book.
Whatever you choose to do, we hope you take the time to SEE what is around you – especially in a world completely different from yours.
With little more than a month’s time remaining, the soon-to-be established nation of Southern Sudan prepares for its first independence day (09 July 2011). As you can imagine this monumental occurrence does not come without its challenges. Reports in the news have described outbursts of violence in the city of Abyei, located on the line on which Sudan is projected to split. Other news reports are beginning to highlight the tension that we already knew was present between the North and South.
I write to you having just returned from a sweet but emotional time in Khartoum, Sudan.
Many years ago, God commissioned LIA to serve the displaced people in the north by showing us their destitute status as they camped in mass on the outskirts of Khartoum with no means to meet basic needs. Now, several years later, our ministry has matured and we have graduated several communities. We are also joyfully seeing the chance for these people to return home.
As the world focuses on the turmoil in Libya right now, I can’t help but to be reminded of the faithfulness, righteousness and deliverance of our God, His way- His time! We would love to ask why, explain what is happening, and even predict the outcome, however we would best look to God and trust that He is at work now as always has been.
The Nationals of south Sudan are excited and rejoicing as they look forward to finally having the opportunity for self governance. As of Friday afternoon the unofficial results from the referendum that came to an end on Saturday January 15th, indicates that 98.6% of the south Sudanese have voted for separation.
Please click here to see a full message from LIA President, Dr. Florence Muindi.
As we watch the potential split of the nation between Northern and Southern Sudan, I ask that you join me in praying for the outcome of this monumental occasion.
This war torn country has seen extensive turmoil over the years and there has been much tension between these two regions even after the civil war. It is my prayer that this voting process will be peaceful and that the Lord’s hand will govern the outcome. As many in the south seek succession, I am also committed to praying for the development of government and infrastructure that must take place if the vote is in favor of the split.
I encourage you to take a few moments to learn more about the impact of this occasion from the articles below.
Solar power project on the LIA compound in Rumbek Sudan is complete!
We now have refrigeration for vaccines, light for the two schools, and power to operate the irrigation system.
At LIA, we see a day when parents in Africa’s poorest communities are able to provide for their own families.
Click on the image below to learn about our cause this holiday season to support church-based micro-enterprise initiatives in the communities where we serve.
Click on the image below to give towards our goal of raising $50,000 this Holiday season. The generated funds will go toward establishing 25 church based mirco-enterprise initiatives.
Two days ago, the LIA International Board of Directors met to discuss and approve many items as we looked back upon 2010 – and all that has been accomplished – and forward to 2011.
In light of what was shared to our Board, it seemed appropriate to share this information with you, our partners and supporters.
The late Andrew Murray famously stated that followers of Jesus are to, “beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things ‘above all that we ask or think’.”
We serve a mighty and powerful God who is bringing about change and transformation in Africa’s poorest communities. May we not limit God by what we believe to be possible!
Please join me in thanking God for the following highlights:
The LIA Cause
– LIA staff has trained nearly 400 local church and lay-leaders in the ministry of transformational development this year.
– These 400 people join a network of 56 churches that are actively serving in their community to meet the needs of the poorest.
– Most of these churches operate openly in their context, while others serve underground.
– Community development activities are far ranging, from street children rehabilitation to shoe-manufacturing to elementary schooling, based on the community need.
– As a result of this activity, more than 44,000 people have been served by LIA through those we have trained, thus far into 2010.
We are humbled and encouraged by how the Lord is moving through the communities we serve. It is in the Lord we put our trust in light of planning for 2011.
On January 9, 2011 the entire nation of Sudan will cast their vote regarding the succession of southern Sudan from the North. This vote is a critical component of the comprehensive peace agreement (2005) and has been both long awaited and much anticipated.
To learn more about the nature of the vote and what is at stake, we encourage you to review this article from bbc.com.
It is no secret that Sudan’s past has been characterized by much hardship, unrest, and fighting. The result of these social challenges has been the displacement of millions of southerners who have found temporary resettlement in North Sudan, Egypt and Chad. Those who have been displaced are beginning to transition back to the south, even now, in anticipation of this monumental vote. When they return, they will find their former homeland in shambles.
Please join us as we pray for peace and ask for the Lord’s mighty protection and guidance as this important decision is reached.
Please pray for the resettlement of the millions who find themselves again without the stability of a home.
Lastly, please pray for our staff as they continue to serve the Sudanese believers in the North – preparing these churches to continue our ministry of transformational development in whatever communities they will end up.
We are humbled by the Lord’s grace and provision in our communities we serve in both North and South Sudan and are presenting our concerns and our plea of peace to the Lord.
In the midst of great strife and great struggle we place our trust in a faithful and loving Father.