Oct 132019

When I travelled to Sudan 12 years ago, the experience was both profound and enduring. It sparked in me an enthusiasm to alleviate the suffering amongst the folk I had met who had been long displaced from their homeland, and left languishing for decades in distant places, without any hope for their future.

Nine years later that spark had almost extinguished when the Lord came calling again through one of His faithful servants, Samuel Ojulu, founder of the new church called St Philips at the refugee settlement at Kalobeyei, North Kenya.

The Wakimbizi Group’s involvement in the creation of the new church community at Kalobeyei has been a testimony of God’s faithfulness to His people: a practical, if spartan shelter for worship and hope-restoring activities amongst the brethren -school classes, sports teams, language classes, craft workshops and a launch pad for evangelism within the homeland in South Sudan.

Much of this has been assisted by the generosity of this congregation and a strong empathy has formed between the two parishes.  All glory to God!

Barb’s sermon two Sundays ago around Saul’s impetuous behaviour in the face of the threatening army of the Philistines took me back to an earlier passage in the book of Samuel (1 Samuel 7).  In this setting, and in similar circumstances, Samuel vanquished the Philistines and marked a place on the battlefield with a large stone which he named Ebenezer and declared, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us.” 

So Samuel was right to chastise Saul for his hasty decision to prepare for a truce with the Philistines so that he might avoid the battle.  Saul had dismissed God’s promises in favour of his own solution. Yet I have some sympathy for Saul.  Faced with a shortage of resources and a challenge to sustain a small legion in their battle against poverty, ignorance and emptiness, there is a temptation to look for an easy exit, an option which excludes God.

Last year the Wakimbizi Group contributed some $20K to assist the formation of the Christian community of St Philips at Kalobeyei – a supposedly temporary community whilst the political and social dust settles in the homeland.

But ‘our’ Samuel, Pastor of St Philips Kalobeyei, is not daunted and is already sowing the seeds of a permanent church community in the homeland of his people.  My guess is that he has not forgotten the Ebenezer stone-of-help and is entering the fray with every confidence that God’s promises bring.

So the Wakimbizi committee has drafted a modest budget to continue to help the community at Kalobeyei whilst God’s plan unfolds.  Faith in God’s providence leaves no option, because, as the biblical Samuel declared when he named the Ebenezer stone, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us.“

Graham Whitley             

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