Wednesday, March 29, 2017

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Justin and Amy Culp: Reaching the Lopit People of South Sudan

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“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes…” – Revelation 7:9

From 2010-2011, Justin spent over a year in Southern Sudan doing evangelism in some very lost areas, and helping disciple some of the local pastors.  While there, he came face to face with the great need for the gospel in many parts of this new country.  After Justin and Amy got married in 2011, they raised support and went back to South Sudan to work on church planting and discipleship.

Pioneers believes strongly in reaching unreached peoples, church planting movements and a passion for God.  Justin and Amy have been working with Pioneers to start reaching the millions of unreached people in Southern Sudan with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Their goal is to disciple local believers to be strong leaders in their local churches and to start reaching the rest of their own tribes and fellow Sudanese people.  This happens mostly through relationship and Bible Study as we seek to avoid dependency-building “platforms.”

The Lopit people live in and around the Lopa Mountains in South Sudan.  The people group is approximately 76,000 people according to the Joshua Project, with almost no Evangelical Christians.  With no Bible translation and very little church planting activity, their eternal outlook is rather bleak.

Justin and Amy plan to spend however long it takes in Sudan helping bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to these unreached, hopeless people.  We are working in the villages with a few believing people to try and spread the gospel and teach Bible stories to those who are believing.  We believe firmly that the Sudanese church can stand on its own without outside, western aid, and we fully intend to partner with the Sudanese church in a way that will empower the locals, while not being afraid to stay as long as it takes to build real disciples and see a growing, thriving, reproducing church in a tribe without their own Bible. 

Would you be willing to pray and/or financially support us as we follow God’s call in this endeavor? 


Use the link on the right side of the page to donate, or support can be sent to:



Pioneers

c/o Justin and Amy Culp - 111886
10123 William Carey Dr.
Orlando, FL  32832

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March 30, 2017

We’ve done lots of travelling lately.  Caleb is getting a little big for the “Infant In Lap” option though!

               We’re finally going back to Lohutok.  After lots of waiting and talking with our leadership about security issues, we finally got the clearance to go back this week.  Of course, the best we can do is to say, “As things stand now, it’s okay to go back” understanding that it could change again any time.  Regardless, we bought our tickets and are departing from St. Louis on June 6th.  That gives us a few weeks to close up the house we’re staying in, pack our things, say goodbye to family and friends, and make one last trip to Orlando for team recruiting, and then we’ll be off!

               The last month has been a pretty busy one for us.  We went to Orlando for a week in March to try and meet/recruit new members for our team.  At the end of that week we flew back to Kansas City, and I (Justin) left the next morning with our sending church pastor to drive BACK to Orlando for a Church Partner Forum.  We had to drive because of some medical issues with the pastor, it was a really good trip.  We spent three days thinking through Indian Avenue Baptist Church’s role in international missions, and how they could be more involved in the South Sudan work and in the Great Commission overall.

               Two days after we got back from Orlando, I got the call from our leadership saying that we could plan on returning to Lopit in May.  I immediately started making plans for our return, and it ended up being the first week of June just because of the difference in ticket prices.

               There are still some things that we need in order to function well as a church-planting team in the Lopit, mainly team mates.  Will you join us in praying that the Spirit would raise up some people to come to Lohutok who are willing to stay for a while, learn a language only spoken by 70,000 people, and start doing evangelism and discipleship with us? 

Thanks!


Justin, Amy, Ezekiel and Caleb Culp

Ezekiel insisted on going to “Big Church” this week, probably because daddy had been gone for a while and just got home.  Antioch had a couple of kids getting baptized that Sunday, and Ezekiel had lots of questions.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

March 2, 2017



               Last Tuesday I got back from a short three-week long trip to South Sudan.  In the newsletter I sent out a few days ago I told you about my goals for the trip and a brief outcome for each of those things.  Today I wanted to write again to tell you more about the church in Lalonga.
               One of our regular prayers is that God would provide godly men in Lalonga for Paul to walk with, disciple, and eventually to help with the leadership of the church.  When we left South Sudan a year ago, Paul asked me what we were planning to do with the church planting and Bible study efforts now that everything had dried up, and I told him that we should pray about that while I’m gone and decide what to do next when I get back.  My goal in this is that Paul will ultimately be the one to make the decision, and that I would simply be there to help him.
               We got back to Lohutok on a Saturday night, so Sunday morning we got up and drove to Lalonga to see the church.  I wasn’t sure what I would find, but was pleased to see a large group of people gathering when we arrived.  They sang like they usually do, and then Paul got up to teach, but before he started, a man named John got up and told the Bible story that they were discussing that day.  I don’t remember ever meeting John, but Paul says that I have.  I later asked Paul what was going on with this new guy, and he told me that he has been doing Bible study with John and another guy for the last year, but the other guy has been losing interest.  We talked again about what it means to be born-again, and Paul assured me that he thinks John is a believer.  If this is true, what a huge answer to prayer!
               I also asked Paul for his thoughts on our next moves in the church planting area.  I expected to have a long discussion about whether we should keep going to the expense of driving to far away villages, but that didn’t happen.  When I asked Paul what he thought we should do next, he simply said, “We’ve been discussing starting 2-3 new Bible Study groups in the small villages of Lalonga, we have some of the places picked out already.”
               Some of you have been asking about the food situation that I wrote about last month.  I went back to South Sudan with a little bit of money (we had to take it from one of our other projects) to help Paul and the church ladies with their shortage.  Thanks to some Diguna missionaries in our area, we were able to put 1200kg of sorghum on a truck and take it from Torit back to Lohutok, and later we added another 800kg that we bought locally.  I talked to Paul about the best way to distribute this without everyone seeing it as coming from me (and deepening the dependency issues we’ve been struggling so hard against) and he already had an answer.  We stored the food in Lohutok, and the “executive committee” that the Lalonga church had formed to make decisions would decide how the food would be distributed, and it would be given away from the church.  Thanks to a couple of you who helped give toward helping with this.
               We’re still waiting for word on when we will be clear to return to South Sudan.  God is at work and the way seems to be paved, so we’re working hard to be ready as soon as we get the okay.  Please pray for the church in Lalonga to continue to grow and disciple each other, and for God’s clear direction regarding our return, its timing and our focus on finishing our language/culture learning when we return.

Thanks!

Justin, Amy, Ezekiel, Caleb


This is John about whom I wrote in the letter.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

February 25, 2017

This is Veronica, one of the ladies from the church in Lalonga.  She named her baby “Eemieh” after Amy.  The word means “lion” but also sounds a lot like “Amy” which is why the Lopit people call Amy “Lion” (yeah…that’s why!). 


I got back on Tuesday from a three week trip to East Africa.  With the time we needed to shop in Uganda before driving to Lohutok (South Sudan) and the travel time back to Uganda at the end of the trip, we were in Lohutok for about 2 weeks.  I went with Mitchell, a guy from Oklahoma who is currently raising support to come join our team. 
 

              I had a few purposes for making this short trip back.  My first goal was to get an idea of what the security situation in the village areas is like to inform our decision-making process for going back as a family.  As far as I can tell, after talking to lots of people on the ground (both foreigners and locals) is that the area seems calm, safe, and not involved in the conflict that has closed off work in other parts of the country.  South Sudan is funny like this, with the roads being anywhere from terrible to virtually non-existent and with no other existing infrastructure, it’s possible for there to be war in one part of the country but for other areas to still be relatively safe.

               My second goal for this trip was to simply reconnect with Paul and the church in Lalonga, and to visit some of the areas where we had been doing Bible Study in the past.  I was able to spend a lot of time with Paul on this trip, and was able to do some things to help the church in Lalonga which I will write about in another newsletter.  The church is still meeting, still growing, Paul has a man whom he is discipling and who is helping him with the preaching on Sunday, and they’re still learning Bible stories.

               The third goal for this trip was to take Mitchell on his survey trip.  During our two weeks in Lohutok, Mitch was able to see most of the work we’re doing, make a few trips to Torit for shopping, and get a good idea of what life will be like when he comes to Lohutok to join our team.

               Will you pray with us now that God will be glorified as the Pioneers African leadership decides whether to allow families back to South Sudan?  Pray that God will make His gospel go out whether we’re back as a family, or whether Justin keeps going back alone, or even without us.  Pray that we will accept God’s plan for our family, but really, my desire, is to pray that we all get to return to Lohutok, as a family, as soon as possible!

Thanks!

Justin, Amy, Ezekiel and Caleb

Some of you remember praying for Paul and Issaye and their new son Joseph.  This is Joseph now, he’s not a little baby anymore!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

January 25, 2017

Amy, Caleb and Karen (Amy’s mom) eating out in St. Louis when we were there for Christmas with Amy’s family.

               Hopefully you had a good Christmas season with your family!  We had a great time at four family Christmases and lots of travelling and after lots of good fellowship, food and gifts, we’re glad that the new year is here and we can move on to preparing for our return to South Sudan!
               I talked to Paul on Skype last week, it’s the first time we’ve spoken since this time last year, and the news that he gave me was tragic.  As many of you know, last year’s food harvest in South Sudan was mostly non-existent.  People survived through various types of aid and lots more hunger and waiting.  This year the rainy season was good, and the crops were promising, and lots of people in our area were able to bring in lots of food for their families.  For the church in Lalonga the story was a little different.

              Somebody in the village decided to go hunting.  The way they frequently do this is to light a large grassy area on fire, and as the animals run out of the burning grass, the men can shoot the animals and take them home to eat.  Unfortunately, starting a fire in the dry season is never a good idea and there is never much advance planning.  The fire spread to sorghum gardens belonging to Paul and most of the ladies in the Lalonga church.  The report I got from someone other than Paul is that most of Paul’s crop and that of the church ladies was completely destroyed by the fire.  With a bad year last year and the fire this year, the outlook is grim and the ladies are actually considering migrating to one of the refugee camps in Kenya.

               I am going to be in South Sudan soon.  I am leaving the USA on January 30th and will be there with Mitchell, a potential team mate, for about three weeks.  Please pray that God will provide for the church in this situation.  Pray that God would give us wisdom about how to help them alleviate some of their hunger during this time of real tragedy.  Pray that God would give us wisdom as we assess the security situation in South Sudan and how safe it will be to return with the family.  Pray that God would provide for some of the logistical issues that we’re facing as we try to do the building and transporting of goods involved with the projects that you have helped fund.  Pray that Mitchell will get a clear idea about life in South Sudan and his calling, and pray that God would provide safety for us as we travel on the roads.

Thanks!

Justin, Amy, Ezekiel and Caleb

We were at a show in Branson, Ezekiel was very excited to go and see the show…but he didn’t really know what he was in for!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

December 14, 2016

We’ve been married for five years, and this is the first time we’ve had a Christmas tree!  It’s only 4ft tall, but it’s ours!



On November 30th I flew to Mexico and on December 1st had the surgery that I talked about in my last newsletter.  The surgery went well and the pain was only the normal after-surgery aches for a few days.  Now I am recovering, still on a liquid diet for a while, and then after a few months of learning how to eat again, we’ll hopefully return to South Sudan.

  The trip home from mexico was an interesting one.  I went through the line at Customs/Border Patrol with a few other people who were patients from the same clinic, but when my turn came it was different.  I’ve always been the subject of “random” extra searches and security on international flights because of my travel history, but this is the first time I’ve crossed into the USA by land.  When the border agent started thumbing through my passport and saw some of the countries I’d visited, including South Sudan, I got moved to a different area.

  After 2.5 hours I was finally cleared to enter the United States.  During my time with the agents I was questioned on all kinds of stuff: my family, my job, hobbies, names of people we work with, etc.  One of the agents even looked through my laptop at my pictures, while another one actually opened and read a page from my journal!  In the end they were surprised that I wasn’t impatient with them and that I was doing so well even though I’ve never been detained at a US border before.  I guess that training was worth it!

 Once I got to the airport I found out that I had 3 minutes to spare for check-in.  I rushed to the gate, got on my plane, and about 45 minutes later, the whole plane was emptied because of a mechanical issue.  I spent the night in San Diego and flew home the next day, only to find out that my bag was still somewhere in Dallas!  This morning (a whole week after I got home) I had an email that said my bag was delivered at 2:35am, and I found it on our front porch.  People always make comments to me about how hard it must be to travel so much through Africa, but some of my most difficult experiences have been right here at home!

Merry Christmas!

Justin, Amy, Ezekiel and Caleb