Tuesday, June 23, 2020

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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:


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

June 27, 2020

The kids had fun riding in the neighbor's old car!

               Thanks to everyone who prayed for and communicated with us about possible places to live.  We went through so many different options for counseling and living in a lot of different places, but finally landed right where we already were, in Kansas City!  We had a few options for places to live, but when we considered the location and people who were close, we decided to stay in an apartment at Avant ministries for the time being. 
               There’s not much to report in a newsletter this month.  Communication from Lopit has been limited because nobody is in Lohutok, and we’ve just been plugging along here.  Justin has been doing InstaCart grocery deliveries to make up the extra expenses involved with renting, counseling, babysitters and being in the USA longer than we expected.  Trying to keep up with supporters, do grocery shopping, be available or counseling and the family all at the same time means being extremely busy, but I guess that’s better than sitting around right?
               Ezekiel is reading books to us, Caleb learned to ride his bicycle last week, we have some good friends who live in the cul-de-sac with us…the kids ring our doorbell all day long.  I am remembering a chat I had with a friend a few months ago who was feeling dry with lack of spiritual excitement.  I encouraged him that God is here even in the quiet times, and sometimes His great work in our lives happens through the daily grind of the “ordinary.”  Lately I’ve been preaching that to myself! 

               Thanks to everyone who has been faithfully praying for us and partnering with us financially during this time of so much uncertainty and outright trouble.  Feel free to reach out if you have prayer requests, questions, or would like for Justin to come and speak to a church, group or class. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

They built a house…for the worms they found…and then got mad when the worm wouldn’t go through the door. 

          Cows are an important part of Lopit culture.  Cows are used to settle disputes, pay debts and most importantly, pay dowry.  Bride price is often dependent on the woman’s beauty and her ability to cook, work and especially haul water.  When it’s time for a marriage, there is a huge negotiation process involved in determining a girl’s worth.  Women sometimes marry as young as 16, but normally they’re somewhere between 18 and 22.  The man will sometimes give a “down payment” toward the total bride price for the wedding to take place, and continue paying them as he is able to.  However, if he does not pay them quickly enough, the woman’s family will sometimes take her back, and remarry her to someone else.

Paul, the pastor that Justin has been discipling, wasn’t even in his village when he got married.  He returned to the village, after attending school in Uganda, and found that his family had paid the cows for a wife for him when he was gone.  At the time he was an altar boy in a Catholic church and was told by the priest that he should love his wife, stay committed to her, and not to take anymore wives, so that’s exactly what he did.  After nine years of being married, going to witchdoctors and other local rituals, Paul and Issaye were unable to conceive.  When they heard the gospel and believed on Jesus for salvation, they publicly denounced all tribal rituals and said told the community that they were just going to ask God for a baby.  Two years later, they had a baby!

I don’t think anyone anticipated 6 months ago that the world would be shut down this spring because of a pandemic.  Justin left for South Sudan and Uganda, from the US, on February 12.  I knew, in my heart, that something catastrophic was going to happen.  I certainly didn’t anticipate it being in the US!  I have to say, however, we really have enjoyed our time at home.  Even for this extrovert, it was a relief not to have to go anywhere!  Since Justin’s return, we’ve made weekly nature hikes (normally a part of homeschooling) a tradition for the whole family.  It’s been super fun to do this with the four of us together! 

We’d previously asked, in our newsletter, if anyone had connections to missionary housing.  We are praising the Lord that not only did we find a duplex WITH 4 and 7 yr old boys in the neighborhood (the exact ages of our boys!!), but God also provided someone who paid half of our rent!  So whoever you are, THANK YOU.  We were not asking, nor do we deserve this kind of a blessing, but we are tremendously grateful for it. 

Morning Bible time

We are truly grateful for all of you who are supporting us, both in prayer and financially.  We truly could not do any of this without you.  We pray that God shows you the depth of his mercy, kindness, and great love toward you.  If there is any way we can pray for you, please let us know!

Amy, Justin, Ezekiel and Caleb Culp

Monday, April 27, 2020

April 30, 2020

The boys built a “trap” in their room and then asked Amy to come up.  She walked in, “tripped”, fell into the crate and then they threw blankets and a cushion over her.  

What do people write about in a missionary newsletter update at a time like this?  We’re still in Kansas City.  Our partners in Lohutok had planned to travel out last month, and because of travel restrictions are not even able to go back if they thought they should.  Since I left Uganda a month ago the governments of Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan have stopped all inbound and outbound travel.  In Uganda people aren’t even allowed to drive in their personal vehicles without a special permit!

We spent fourteen days at home with Justin confined to the basement, but the rest of our family also on quarantine because Justin had traveled through Europe.  It’s hard to be at home with the kids, whom I haven’t seen in six weeks already, and not be able to wrestle and snuggle!  Since quarantine ended, we’ve been trying to find little ways to keep busy and keep the kids busy.  We’ve gone out to a few walking trails, have been looking for new ways to do school activities, played with the kids from the missionary family next door…while staying six feet apart, and have had lots of Skype and Zoom calls.

It’s cold…but we’re tired of being in the house…so let’s do school outside!

Normally I have some kind of unique, novel experience or story about which I can write, but this month I feel like we have the same story as everyone else reading this!  When we first found out back in January/February that we were not going back to South Sudan on schedule, a pastor friend gave me some advice.  He said that although I’m grieving and panicking, Jesus isn’t.  He is already on the other side of whatever this is, He knows how it ends, He knows why it’s necessary, He knows how He is going to glorify Himself through it, and He is a way better father, husband, pastor or missionary that I will ever be.  It’s funny how we know these words are true, and yet hearing them still helps.  I don’t know what you’re going through as you sit and read this in our newly-upside-down world.  What I can say as someone who has lived in South Sudan for ten years now, and seen so many potential disasters, so many of my plans dashed on the rocks, and so many situations where God MUST provide because there’s no other way for ME to make it work, is just the same thing.  Jesus is on the other side, He knows the outcome, He knows your faithfulness, He has never panicked or worried or been surprised.

Thank you all for praying that we would get a place to live.  We haven’t yet though, so keep praying! 

In this together with you,

Justin, Amy, Ezekiel and Caleb

Friday, March 27, 2020

March 28, 2020

On Sunday only children showed up, so Paul altered his program and changed his sermon accordingly.

          I am writing this letter from the basement during day 3 of the 14 day quarantine directed to me by the CDC because of my travel through Europe.  Our whole family is under the 14 day quarantine but I am also supposed to keep distance from them during this time in case I picked something up on one of my connecting flights.

           A few days after I wrote my last letter I was able to find a place to move in Uganda.  God is good, the place is bigger than what we had, which means we can make it available to other missionaries who need more space, and the price is the same as what we were paying before which means it’s actually cheaper!  After a few days of moving, unpacking, getting machines to work and loading, I left and went back to Lohutok.

           Back in Lohutok I was able to finish two Bible classes with Paul.  The day we did his last course was on another trip to Torit.  When we got back from shopping in Torit, Paul stayed over at our place to study for his exam, take it the next morning, and meet with Michael (Our guard who has been asking about the gospel).  The next morning Paul sat with Michael and talked to him about how every person in this world is walking on one of two roads, one leading to death or one leading to life.  You can’t be on both roads at once, and there is only one way to walk the road leading to life – following Christ.  The road leading to death is easy to stay on, and there are many ways to follow it, and it is Satan’s goal to fool and distract people into staying on that road.  At the end of the discussion, Paul asked Michael what he thought about the lesson, and Michael said “I think I need to be on the road that follows Christ.”  

           I told Paul that, although prayers don’t save people, it is a good idea to talk to Michael about what he is understanding and hearing from the Holy Spirit and then hear him pray and tell God about what he wants to do.  Paul said that he would do this with Michael, but first he wanted to spend more time explaining just what it means for a Lopit person to repent.  Michael and Paul agreed that they would start meeting to talk about this every Monday, pray that these meetings continue!  Paul asked me if I would be talking to Michael as well and I told him that I would do a little bit, but I am on my way back to the USA for a few months and Michael will understand it better coming from Paul.  Now Paul gets to take the responsibility for this himself.I was planning to drive back to Uganda on Sunday and leave on my flight back to the USA on Thursday.  With the whole world going crazy over this new virus, all of that changed…frequently…until I finally left and got back to Kansas City three days earlier than planned.  I found out the Wednesday before I was supposed to leave Lohutok that Brussels Airlines had cancelled all of their flights for two months so I called the travel agent to see if I could rebook.  She was able to get me a flight for Monday night (the day I was planning on driving out of Lohutok), so I immediately started packing my stuff and left Lohutok that night to get to Uganda.  On Saturday the Uganda government announced that they were shutting down all incoming and outgoing flights as of midnight Sunday, so I had to look again for different options.

Caleb's birthday is on Monday...He wants a suit of armor

               It seemed for a bit that I wouldn’t be able to leave!  The only flights back to the USA were $8000 flights that left 4 hours later, but eventually I was able to find a flight to Dubai and I asked the travel agent to just get me home from there.  The flight to Dubai got booked, but then I would be there for 48 hours, and another 24 hours in London before flying back to Dallas and then getting to Kansas City Friday night.  So I was to travel from Sunday afternoon until Friday night!  I was waiting in line at the airport on Sunday, and was actually next in line to check in, when I got a message from the travel agent telling me to leave.  She had heard that the Dutch embassy in Kampala negotiated with the Uganda government to let the Monday night flight go, and that meant short connections, getting home sooner, saving a bunch of money, and not taking the risk of getting caught in Dubai or London.

               So as counterintuitive as it seemed, I got out of line, rolled my luggage out of the airport (past all of the hundreds of people in line looking at me like I’m crazy) and went back home!  The next day I was able to get on my flight as planned, and I had even read about more restrictions happening in Dubai AND London, and eventually I got back to my family on Tuesday night.
Pray for us as we do this 14 day quarantine where nobody can leave, but I’m also in the same house as my family who I can’t really touch and have to avoid.  Pray for our counseling process which is delayed in starting because of this whole shut down.  Pray that God would provide us a new house to stay in after June 1st because the one we currently have is booked (let me know if you have any leads!).  Pray that Michael would hear, understand, be changed by and cling to the gospel.  Pray that we can get back to Lohutok soon, and that we (including the kids who are begging to go) would have patience and joy as we accept God’s timing and care.  Pray that our support is maintained during this time where so many people have financial uncertainty.

Thank you so much for your prayer and support, we could not do this without you!

Justin, Amy, Ezekiel and Caleb

Saturday, February 29, 2020

February 29, 2020

Caleb decided to decorate himself after the Chiefs
won the Super Bowl...in red...with food coloring.

           I came back to East Africa a couple of weeks ago to tie up some loose ends before the extended stay in the USA.  We had a vehicle at a mechanic who was waiting to be instructed and paid, a house that might possibly need to be moved, and Paul was waiting for me to come back and finish some Bible classes with him after he had finished the book work.

           It’s been an adventure, as always.  My first day in Uganda I got a brand new turbocharger for the LandCruiser (a not-free, welcome-back gift!).  The search for a new house to rent has been tough.  I’ve gone from having one possible lead to having six possible leads with one standout, back to having one possible lead who has been delayed in communicating…so I’m writing this from Uganda as I wait, and search, even though I don’t really know where else to look!

           The day after I got back to Lohutok last week, Paul and I planned to go to Torit.  I needed to get some supplies for the house, meet with AIM leadership, and the 5 hour road trip is always a good time for Paul and I to have some of our course discussions.  Paul’s house is always the first stop on the way, but about 15 minutes before I got there I started hearing a funny grinding sound in the wheel of the pickup.  A spring had fallen off the drum brake the day before so I was hoping that the noise I heard was inside the brake drum.  I continued to Paul’s house, then looked under the truck and saw a large puddle of gear oil…it was not the brake drum.  The bearing was shredded.  Scott came and helped me pull the axle and take it back to Lohutok where we could communicate with people about getting spare parts.

           Since Paul was planning to have his course discussions with me, he came behind us on his motorbike.  I was at Scott’s house where I could use internet to communicate with mechanics, and when there was a lull I went up to our compound to tell Paul to come.  We could do class while I waited for messages.  When I got to my house, Paul told me that he couldn’t come now because he was busy.  I was a bit confused but just said okay, got something from inside and left.  As I was leaving I noticed Paul sitting under a tree with Michael, our watchman and my language helper who was asking about the gospel back in August when I left.  Later Paul told me that when he showed up, and I wasn’t around, Michael came and said “Come over here and talk to me about this.”  Paul couldn’t come because he was busy talking about the gospel with Michael.

Sitting in a Fire Truck!  Amy and the boys got to make
a homeschool field trip to the fire station...I guess they had fun!

           The spare part came, the truck got fixed, and God is still at work!  Pray that God would give me a place to move our things to in Uganda, that Michael would believe and be saved, and that the gospel would take root and grow in Lohutok and among the Lopit.