Monthly Archives: December 2013

An Update To The Situation In Bor, South Sudan

I wrote a couple days ago about the situation currently going on in South Sudan, specifically about what looks to be civil war in a power grab between South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, and the ousted vice president, Riek Machar. We have been trying to keep in contact with those we know in the church in Bor. Some people managed to flee to their home villages, some we are hearing from but are in dire straits, and others we have not heard from since the first days of the violence. I am incredibly worried for these people, as they have become good friends over the last couple years.

sudan-0744smI’m amazed that any news gets out at all, but thanks to Facebook, I am still getting some updates. How they’re getting power I have absolutely no idea, but I’m thankful that they do, as it allows us to pray more specifically for what they need.

Currently the situation (as far as I understand it at this point) is as follows. Nuer Rebels have taken over Bor and are executing people. The United States and other nations have tried to evacuate their personnel from Bor, but have had difficulty after some evacuation aircraft were shot down. This is also hampering any relief effort.  The government of South Sudan has agreed not to launch an all out assault on Bor until foreigners have been evacuated. This is also making things more difficult for those who have had to flee, because they are running out of food.

A large number of the residents of Bor have fled, either to the UN compound at the edge of the city, or out into the bush. The general opinion that I’ve read from those there is that they generally don’t consider the UN base to be a safe place. From those in the bush, they are currently still safe, but are sleeping out in the open without protection from the weather or the mosquitos. Two babies were born yesterday to women on the run in the group we’re in contact with. They’re also running out of food. They’ve been eating acacia nuts and fish to survive, but the fish are becoming scarce. They’re crying out for relief.

Please keep the people of Bor in your prayers. God is in control, but we need to stand in the gap for these people. As we live here in peace during this Christmas time, please take time from the traditions and busyness of the holiday to lift up those who are suffering tremendously during this time. Pray for the wellbeing and encouragement of those we haven’t heard from.

Here is a link to a recent BBC story on the events in Bor.


Civil War in South Sudan (again), and Facebook.

This is an incredibly hard post for me to write today. I was greeted with the wrenching news a few days ago that civil war has started again in South Sudan, and ground zero for it is where our friends are in Bor. The initial indications are that the vice president, (a Nuer), who was dismissed by the president (a Dinka) back in July, has begun to air his grievance against the president with an uprising. During this uprising, the town of Bor was taken by Nuer rebels. Bor is where most of our friends are in South Sudan. If any of my South Sudanese friends have more accurate information than this, please feel free to post.


Now, with that short background, we are praying for them with a lot of nail-biting. This is the first time that war has affected me in such a personal way. People talk about the fact that only in the past thirty years or so have people been able to find out almost immediately via news what is going on in a foreign war. But previously it was still hard to see it as real , because the disseminator of news was always a news agency, and it was still a bit impersonal. You could always tell yourself that whoever it is that you knew might not have been wherever the bad news was happening.

Facebook changed all that. No we know within hours or even minutes what is going on with people who aren’t just acquaintances, they’re friends. And we can’t tell ourselves that they’re not involved or suffering, because these are personal statements being put on Facebook, coming right from their own experiences.

On one hand it tells me specifically how to pray for them, but on the other hand it breaks my heart to see what they’re going through.  We have a very hard time in the United States relating to what’s going on in a country many of us have never heard of, so I’m going to post some of their own statements (with no names on other personal info), to make this more real.

“All the displaced people of Bor Town are in the UN compound, but the open air will not be enough for the gunshot victims.”

“Gunshots have started now, at 4 AM.”

“Bor town is scare by gunshot at block 4 this evening.they were trying to be the part of what is happening in Juba. i don’t know how is gonna be tonight oh God !!!!!!! guard the live of these innocent civilians who are the suffer of this nonsense war.”

“Keep your battery charged.  I was told by a source that commandos together with tanks were on the way to try to retake the Town of Bor. Whatsup with Bor and the rescue mission? Do u hear sounds of artillery fire from ur hide out or it’s calm in town? The Army sent ystrday is really enough to push them out. God be with you.  XXXX refused to leave the house n she said if they wanna kill her, no problem! I am dead here man.”

“Hi! Freinds. I am fine with people in the bush on our third day sleeping in the cold. Thanks for your prayers.”

“Using computer power to charge phones in the bush, the only last chance for phones to stay on.”

“For those looking relatives, stay calm, all hiding are calm yesterday and today. I can still hear sound of heavy machine guns from Bor town. I don’t have an idea of what is happening there.”

Folks, it just got a lot more real. Please pray for these people caught in the crossfire.

Pray For Our Friends in South Sudan

Just a short post today. Violence has broken out in Bor, the main town where we work and where most of our friends are in South Sudan. Please pray for peace, and for the lives of those we work with. Here is a link to a BBC story.

My Favorite Pictures

It always takes me a while to look at and ponder the pictures I take when I go into South Sudan. Sometimes certain images won’t strike a chord with me until I’ve looked at them a few times. Now that I’ve had time to look through them, I’m posting some of my initial favorites from my most recent trip. I’m leaving captions off of most of them so you can let your imagination work.  All can be clicked on for a larger view. Enjoy. I’ll probably do the same for previous trips soon.


Children sit in dugout canoes during a baptism in the Nile River
Girls playing the Sudanese version of double dutch.





The Camelbak All Clear

Children float in the Nile on rafts made of discarded water bottles.

This post is going to be a bit out of the ordinary from what I usually write about, but I am trying to cover all things about travel in South Sudan. The items I use while over there are definitely part of that. Being that I’ve had products that have failed and ones that I’ve been very happy with while traveling, I like to pass on the information when something works well.

Whenever I travel in South Sudan, clean water is a problem. You can’t just simply drink out of the tap. For one reason, there frequently is no tap, and if there is, you definitely don’t want to drink directly from it. On all previous trips, I’ve drank nothing but bottled water. There are three main problems though. The first is that it’s easy to end up spending a large amount on nothing but bottled water.  The second problem is waste. I look around, and Africa is littered with discarded plastic bottles. The smell of burning garbage that is so prevalent in Africa is due in large part to burning plastic bottles. The third thing that has come to my attention is that in some places now, the bottled water you’re sold is not actually purified water. They just find a clear looking source, bottle it, and voila, instant dysentery starter kit.

I decided this time to bring a Camelbak All Clear with me, which is a water bottle with a high power ultraviolet lamp in the top of it. It doesn’t filter the water, but rather sterilizes it (so I understand), making it drinkable. If you have a source of clear water that you suspect is full of nasties, you turn the lamp on, and it counts down for 60 seconds while you agitate it, after which, the water is supposed to be safe to drink. I was apprehensive about trying it, being that I was going to be out in the middle of nowhere for a good week, during which time stomach sickness would have been a real problem. In fact, for the first day or two, I went ahead and bought bottled water. But in my wife’s words in a conversation on the sat phone, she said; “You spent the money for it, you may as well use it.”  I’m not sure if she was trying to kill me, but I took her advice.

For five days I drank water that was sourced out of the Nile, which if you’ve ever been there, is not exactly Culligan. I still didn’t entirely trust the Camelbak, so I ran the UV cycle twice each time. Nevertheless, I had no stomach problems the entire time in South Sudan. In fact, I was the only one on my team that didn’t, but I suspect theirs came from medication rather than from the water. So having put it through that test, it is definitely something I would use again, not only traveling overseas, but also on backpacking trips and such. You’re supposed to get about 80 uv cycles out of each charge, and it charges by usb connection, so it’s good for at least a week of use. I hope this was helpful for anyone wondering.