From 3:30-6:30 each night in dusty, hot Juba about 25 people joined me for a study of the Old Testament. For about 10 days and over 40 hours, Central Africa Baptist College & Seminar is teaching OT and NT Survey (and other classes) to the pastors, chaplains, and church leaders in the war-weary capital of South Sudan. Juba, the capital, is the hot, dusty, struggling capital city of South Sudan. The South Sudanese Pound was trading is about 18ssp to $1 while I was there. Petrol lines are long (some lasting multiple days), many are struggling to live and work, and the civil war appears far from over. While the waring factions of SS have repeatedly agreed to disarm and unify, violent skirmishes continue. Genocide and worse has torn the newest country on earth apart in recent years, and there appears no end in sight.
The 20-30 people that filed into our rented church hall each evening, all day Saturday, and for 5 hours on Sunday were eager to understand their Old Testament. The African mind finds much in the Old Testament it can relate to. The importance of the elderly, family, community, land, and the supernatural that appears so ’normal’ in the Old Testament is readily accepted by many Africans. Many do not understand or comprehend what is happening in the OT and why NT times are different. Our OT Survey class quickly surveyed all the OT books, but often found ourselves dealing with questions about how the OT should affect the decisions we make today. Understanding how to properly interpret the Bible, how to recognize the distinctions between Israel and the church, and when OT actions and ideas don’t necessarily carry over to NT times was a source of frequent conversation.
Pray for the people of South Sudan. The people are sick and tired of war. The African proverb about the fighting elephants only trampling the grass underneath their feet is very much felt by the common people of South Sudan. Africans from many countries are in Juba trying to make a living, and everyone is feeling the pinch. Pray that they will remain faithful to the Lord and steady in their faith. Pray that they will continue to love God and love his Word while serving Him in a difficult place like Juba.
This report was written by Dan Huffstutler, Director of East Africa Baptist School of Theology in Nairobi, Kenya. Dan also serves CABC as Adjunct Faculty.