December 25, 2013
Merry Christmas! I’m writing this letter on Christmas day, so most of you probably won’t get it until afterward, but our past week has been busy!
Most of you have probably heard the news about fighting breaking out in South Sudan. About a week and a half ago there was a fight within the South Sudanese military between two tribes that led to what is basically a civil war. In the northern part of the country there are battles going on between the two military factions as each wants more control over the country’s government. We are praying for a quick resolution to this problem as many innocent people are being killed in the process.
For us in Lohutok, the problem still seems pretty far away. The attitude among the people seems to be that they are not part of the fight, and don’t want to see the fight reach our region of the country. Our family left yesterday, on Christmas Eve, for Uganda, but not because we felt unsafe. We have some travelling to do at the end of next week and since it is uncertain what options will be available then, we took a flight that became available. Our original plan was to go back to Lohutok on January 23rd, we are praying that the situation calms down so we can continue with this plan.
The house is almost ready for us to move in, we wanted it to be done before this trip, but it just didn’t happen! Will you please pray with us about the following things:
- Pray for peace in South Sudan, not just military peace, but that the gospel would change hearts and people would begin to love the things that God loves and hate the things that God hates.
- Pray for our travel plans. We were supposed to travel through Kenya, but now we are in Uganda trying to work out how to get to Ethiopia, which is where we need to be next week.
- Pray that God would provide for our needs. Because all of our funding has been going to the house, we haven’t really built up an emergency fund, so we’re trusting God for the extra costs we have from being out of the bush longer.
- Pray for the safety of our things and our house that are all locked up in the village without anybody to watch them.
Thank you for standing with us! God is faithful and has a heart for the lost souls in South Sudan, and we are confident that He is going to continue to reach them!
Friday, December 6, 2013
December 6, 2013
Amy has been spending time with some of the teenage girls in the village. Here girls get married between 15-20 years old, but these girls have said they want to finish school first. We are currently praying hiring someone to help Amy around the house, which will be a great way to build a relationship with a Lopit girl and begin telling her about Jesus and discipling her. We may hire Grace, Susana or Esther, three of the girls that Amy has gotten to know.
Here are some fun facts about the Lopit people and Lohutok, South Sudan:
- “Amy” means “Lion” in Lopit. Now when people see
Justin, they ask, “Where is the Lion?”
- They have the most beautiful butterflies I’ve ever seen!
- Butterflies apparently like poop… especially baby poop!
- The funerals last 6 days and 6 nights, and they sing and
dance the whole time!
- Most nights we are going to sleep with the sound of awedding or funeral just a few hundred yards…they are not quiet!
While working on our house the other day, Justin had an interesting conversation with one of the pastors and some other men from the village. They discussed the difference between marriage in the U.S. and in South Sudan.
Justin said to them, “The other day there was a man in the village with a swollen hand. When people asked him what happened, he said he was beating his wife.” At this the men laughed a little and said that they had to do this to “teach” their women. They said it was necessary because the women here are uneducated. Justin spoke to them about Paul’s command that husbands “love their wives as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:32). They discussed what that means, and that Jesus said, “Father forgive them…” in regards to the men who were nailing him to the cross. They also discussed the way that Hosea bought his wife back when she had become a prostitute, and how he loved her anyways.
Please pray for us as we:
- Consider who to hire as a worker
- Begin language learning
- Finish our house, that it would be done quickly,
well and that the funds would be enough.
- For the girls that Amy has been spending time with.
- For the men that Justin was speaking with, that
they would love their wives as Christ loved
Support can be sent to:
c/o Justin and Amy Culp – 111886
10123 William Carey Dr.
Orlando, FL 32832
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. Brothers, pray for us also. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-25
We are leaving. We are leaving, and we are a leaving soon! A month ago I wrote to you about the exciting survey trip I took in August. The loose ends hadn’t been tied up, but it looked like things were coming together . . . well now they have!
When I wrote to you last month we were $16,000 short of what we need for all of our startup costs. After I sent that update, I realized that there was another $3,000 in travel that I didn’t factor into that total, so our need was actually around $19,000. As I sit here and write this letter, our remaining need is just under $12,000. That means in the last 31 days God has provided over $7,000 towards our need!
Some of you have been faithfully downloading and praying through the prayer calendars that we send out every month. On those prayer guides, I always ask people to pray that God would not only provide the money that we need for a vehicle, but that He would also provide a vehicle for us to buy. Well, we know you have been praying because God has definitely provided.
It is hard to find a good used vehicle in South Sudan because having the vehicle in South Sudan means excessive wear. When I was in Lohutok last month I met someone from Diguna, a German organization that is working nearby, and they were extremely helpful with this. We couldn’t afford a new LandCruiser, which costs around $50,000, but through these new connections we were able to find a used LandCruiser in Johannesburg. Since the vehicle is from the city it is in much better condition, and it can be flown to Kenya and driven up to Lohutok all for about $14,000. That’s 1/3 the cost of a brand new vehicle in South Sudan! Since we still need about $12,000 for our startup costs, that means we have enough to pay for our travel, the house, and all of our other startup needs, but we still need to raise most of the money we need for the vehicle. Will you pray with us for this? We have a few more weekends of churches to visit and then we are done, which is exciting, but we really need a vehicle.
Speaking of “a few more weeks,” we bought our tickets! We got the final approval from Pioneers to buy our plane tickets, so we are leaving for South Sudan on November 13th. Thank you all so much for your continued prayer and support!
Support can be sent to:
c/o Justin and Amy Culp – 111886
10123 William Carey Dr.
Orlando, FL 32832
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin’s cell phone (for now): 785-760-7146
Justin’s cell phone (for now): 785-760-7146
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Chuck preparing for Bible Study in Ohilong
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen – Philippians 4:19-20
At the beginning of August I (Justin) went to South Sudan for a survey trip. I spent five days in Lohutok with Chuck and Shelly (our team leaders) and I don’t know how the trip could have gone any better.
My first day in Lohutok, Chuck and I sat down and talked about my role on this team, how he saw us fitting with the work in Lohutok. Anyone who knows me, or has heard me speak, knows that I love doing administrative and logistical work. Chuck’s vision for our future involves us helping with the evangelism and discipleship ministries in the surrounding unreached villages, but it also involves me helping with recruiting, strategizing and organizing for our team. There are about ten unreached people groups within close proximity to Lohutok, and it will be a good area to base out of as we work to help start church planting movements in this part of the country.
I also got to look around at the various options for where our family will live when we return to Lohutok. There were a few options, but one stood out from the rest. Many of you know that we have been trying to raise a huge sum of money for house construction, but in Lohutok there was a house that is already almost finished. The man who owns the house lives in Juba. He built the house for himself, but for some reason decided not to stay in the village, and he’s excited to have someone come use the house and build the church! The amount we agreed on for rent is super low, and the money we will spend finishing the house is about 25% of what we were planning to spend.
We also got a good lead on getting a vehicle for our family. Like everything else, the cost is going to be somewhere around one-third of what we had estimated. Basically, when I left for Sudan I thought we were nowhere close to our startup needs, and now we have about $21,000 of the $37,000 that we need! Thank you all so much for giving and praying. We are planning to go as a family in November after Ezekiel gets the last of his vaccinations. Until then, please pray that God would provide the last of what we need to finish the house, travel back to the field, and get a vehicle for our family.
Girls grinding grain into flour
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. – Isaiah 53:4-5
Last weekend we went to Louisville to attend a training put on by the Trauma Healing Institute and learned some new tools for doing Trauma Healing with refugees. There were approximately fifteen South Sudanese refugees at the training, and it was a valuable experience to hear their stories. We also gained some great insight on the trauma that the long war in Sudan has caused in the lives of the people, and how God can bring healing to their lives.
In 2 Samuel 13, when Tamar was assaulted by her step-brother Amnon, Absalom, her brother responded by saying “But now keep silent, my sister, he is your brother; do not take this matter to heart.” The Bible then says that Tamar remained and was desolate in her brother’s house. Later, when Absalom killed his brother, the disgrace against Tamar was avenged, and Scripture says that David was angry about the situation, but there is little response to Tamar and the pain she was experiencing.
In most South Sudanese cultures, the response is the same. Whether it is a woman being assaulted, a child who watched his family be killed, a village being attacked and burned by rival tribes or even the military, personal trauma is a reality for many of the people in South Sudan. In many cases, people are encouraged by their culture to just “toughen up” or “get over it and move on” but we know that those approaches don’t usually work in the long-term.
As a counselor, Amy is passionate about reaching out to hurting people and showing them the path to healing that the Gospel can bring in their lives. We are anxious to get back to South Sudan and see lives changed through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
May 1, 2013
Justin and Amy Culp
Hey everyone, not much new is happening with us these days. With the switch to Pioneers, we've been working hard to get our donors switched over and trying to raise the remainder of our support. We've been doing lots of travelling! Amy wrote this month to share what God has been laying on her heart lately, we hope to hear from you!
The concept of taking our baby to South Sudan has been a stretch of faith for me, to say the least. Any parent with common sense would say that it’s risky. We’ve had people get angry at us, tell us we’re being irresponsible, Justin has even had people walk out of the room during his presentation because they thought our vision was reckless.
As we were hearing all of this and looking for a new organization, we couldn’t help but wonder… “Are they right? Is God really calling us to a nation with no real medical care for our child?” And yet, God has never let us question our calling for long – just as we are agonizing over these questions, He has provided new supporters, reminded us of the need, and even provided a doctor as our team leader – something I have been praying vehemently for!
We have continued to walk, day by day, trusting that He will provide every need.
Finally, it hit me the other day – if we were to stay in the U.S. for our baby as many people have argued, God could just as easily discipline us by taking Ezekiel from us as He could protect Ezekiel in South Sudan. He has called us to go. Suddenly, the idea of staying was scarier to me than going. Since I came to know Jesus 14 years ago, the dominating message He has given to me is that He is faithful, and He hears me when I call. This is not to say nothing bad can happen to him, just that we trust the sovereignty and faithfulness of our God.
During the past two months we have attended a week of training with Pioneers, visited my parents and were able to give them lots of time with Ezekiel, and visited the rest of my family in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Taking time to say goodbye to our family has been an encouraging reminder that our time is drawing near, and we will be in South Sudan soon.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
Things are changing and I think it is for the good! In September of last year I (Justin) went to Texas for a weekend of meetings with the e3 Partners Sudan team. My supervisor told me then that our family might not be able to go to Southern Sudan as e3 missionaries. E3 Partners does not have many long-term field missionaries, their strategy is based on short-term trips. We were approved to go long-term, but that changed when we had a baby. A family with children required more organizational support than e3 felt they could provide, so they asked us to either move to short-term missions like the rest of them or find a new organization that would send us to Sudan.
There’s something incredibly humbling and slightly discouraging about calling one organization after another and hearing them say no, but through the process God gave us so many “without a doubt” confirmations that we were still doing what He had called us to, and He just wanted us to trust Him.
When I was in Sudan in December, I met some people who suggested that we contact Pioneers. I had never heard of Pioneers, but a few days later we were denied by another organization that didn’t want to start work in Southern Sudan, so I called them. The issue with many of the organizations was that we were going as a family, with a young child, to such a remote place. I explained that to the people at Pioneers and they asked us to apply anyways. Well, two weeks ago we went to Orlando for orientation and final interviews, and at the end of that week they appointed us.
God is so awesome. We contacted Pioneers because we just wanted an organization that would let us go, but the more we talk to people and learn about the organization, the more we realize that Pioneers is a perfect fit for us. God had it all worked out already. The process was long and sometimes discouraging, but God has called us, He is in control, and He is good so we can trust Him.
Not much has changed with the actual ministry that we’re going to do. We’re still going to Southern Sudan, still planning to start churches and disciple national leaders to lead self-supporting and reproducing national churches. We now get to do all of that with an agency who has the support and help that our family will need.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10
Hopefully you had a wonderful Christmas season. We traveled to Columbus, GA to have Thanksgiving with Amy’s parents, then I (Justin) spent two weeks in Sudan, then we visited Amy’s brother and his family in St. Louis. In the last month I have traveled almost 20,000 miles!
My trip to Sudan was exciting and fruitful. I learned some great new things about the logistics surrounding our living arrangements and saw the area where we will work and live when we return. There are still lots of details that we need to work out and decide before we go back, but after this trip I feel like I have a way better handle on what we’re going to encounter when we go back.
During the trip I went to Terekkeka to visit for a few days. While I was there I got to know a man named Marino (pictured above). Marino is a Mondari man from Yari, a village near Terekkeka. A few years ago Marino went to Kajo Keji to go through our Bible school, but because he couldn’t adequately read and write he could not go through the program. He started primary school in Kajo Keji and was being disciple by some of the believers there. Marino accompanied me to Terekkeka to elp me get around, but later informed me that he would not return to Kajo Keji when my stay was over. He had been there long enough, and his desire was to finish school in Terekkeka so he could start sharing the gospel and working with churches in his home village.
Yari is a small village near Terekka. At one time there was a “Baptist” church meeting in Yari, but it hasn’t been around for a while. Months ago, during a land dispute between clans, the entire village of Yari was burned to the ground. I met the people who used to attend the church, they told me that they were slowly coming back to rebuild their homes but the only Bible they had was burned in the conflict. I encouraged them with a story from God’s word and we left so they could continue their work. Marino hopes to keep working with the handful of believers who are in Yari and start discipling them and raising up men and women who will spread the gospel to the rest of their tribe. He is anxious for us to return and for me to keep mentoring him and teaching him the Bible.Before I left Sudan I was able to get some Bibles in the Bari language (similar to Mondari) and send them to Marino in Terekkeka. I’m anxious to get back.