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? 


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.


Justin, Amy, Ezekiel, Caleb

This is John about whom I wrote in the letter.