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‘My motivation is not money — it is the love of Christ’



Isaac Adotey, left, and Sudanese church member Isaya Jackson (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)


Blogging live from Juba, Sudan
Actually, it seems like that dateline should be “Juba, South Sudan.” In July, this war-torn land officially becomes its own nation.
That date just seems like a formality around here. There’s a banner at the Juba International Airport welcoming travelers to the world’s 193rd country. (I would have taken a picture of it, but I’ve done this job long enough to know not to take photos at an African airport.)
Incidentally, picture a strip mall with three stores to get an idea of the size of the Juba airport.
But what this city lacks in airport terminals and paved roads, it makes up for in enthusiasm. Government of South Sudan offices are everywhere, flying the soon-to-be country’s new flag. The streets are filled with four-wheel-drive vehicles bearing the logos of the United Nations, UNICEF and various non-governmental organizations.
During Sudan’s long civil war between the predominantly Muslim north and Christian and animist south, thousands of Sudanese fled to refugee camps in neighboring countries — Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya. African evangelists established Churches of Christ in the camps, and now their converts are coming home.
This morning I had the pleasure of meeting Isaac Adotey, a missionary working among the returning refugees. Isaac grew up near Accra, Ghana, and is a graduate of Ghana Bible College. He did mission work in the northern Ghanaian city of Yendi and also ministered to a group of refugee’s near Sudan’s Darfur region a few years ago. Now he lives in Juba, with support from a Church of Christ in Arkansas. The Nsawam Road Church of Christ in Accra oversees his work.
Finding a Ghanaian in Sudan hardly was a surprise. Believers from the West African nation travel around the world planting churches. (See reports on Ghanaian Churches of Christ in Europe and the United States in our ongoing “Global South” series.) Isaac worships with a group of about 10 church members here. His wife, Janet, is trying to learn enough Arabic to compose some hymns for the group to sing.
“My motivation is not money — it is the love of Christ,” Isaac told me.
South Sudan is less developed than parts of Ghana, and poses some health risks, he said.
“But some people have to take the risk,” he added. “It’s good we are here.”

  • Feedback
    Erik,
    I was in Juba in April, 2007, for meetings with Vice President Riek Machar, Industry Minister Albino Akol Akol, Central Bank Governor Tech Akol Deng and others regarding development in the south. I was scheduled to also meet President Salvar Kiir Mayardit but was preempted by the sudden arrival of the president of Eritrea, and couldn’t stay over an extra couple of days as they requested to do so. At the time there was only one recently-opened hotel where they put me up; a little earlier and it would have been tent city! There were no more than a dozen permanent structures then in all of Juba. I had been told in Nairobi, where I received the invitation to come, in all seriousness that “you realize we are the world’s largest country with no buildings!” He certainly wasn’t kidding.
    In VP Machar’s office I met a Ugandan-American engineer, George Rubagumya, who was there consulting with the new government regarding oil issues. Upon receiving my card, he said “Hmmm, Oklahoma City. Are you a Sooner?” When I affirmed that I was indeed, he replied with a smile, “I’m a Cornhusker.” Small world! We had a brief but interesting discussion of Big 12 football in the most unlikely of settings.
    I am planning to go back to Juba if all goes well by this summer to follow up on several planned projects as independence becomes official. It will be most interesting to see the changes since my previous visit.
    Larry Edwards
    March, 15 2011

    Such stories do give us a lot of encouragement. I’m happy for Isaac and brothers like him. They are such a breed worthy of our admiration.
    Grace Nyanga
    Grace Nyanga
    March, 16 2011

Filed under: News Extras Travel Reports

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