News and Greetings
August 4, 2017
Friends in Christ,
I safely returned to the States yesterday, August 3, 2017. Thanks for your prayers and ministry to the Lutheran Church of South Sudan. As usual, I will be on the road sharing God's amazing grace in the LCSS. I will attend the NALC Convocation and will proceed to Sumter, SC for a week.
This year, the LCSS celebrated the graduation of 12 students from the Trinity Lutheran Seminary and College and the ordination of nine pastors - 6 pastors in Gambella, Ethiopia and 3 in Nairobi, Kenya. Operating from under the tree for nearly four years, the LCSS and the Trinity Lutheran Seminary and College have finally moved to a new compound. Thanks to the partners in ministry who paid for a five rooms seminary building and the drilling of clean drinking water on the compound. The LCSS was blessed this year with a new friend and guest professor, Pastor John Hobbins. Pastor Hobbins spent one month in Gambella teaching Biblical Hebrews. With years of experience in the International Mission, John quickly built bonds with Hebrew students and with the LCSS pastors. He spent hours in the community visiting the sick and all in needs. Tenths of thousands of new refugees have crossed the border into Gambella in the last few weeks as violence intensified in South Sudan. Thanks to Pastor Hobbins for choosing to walk with the people of South Sudan in such a difficult time. Everyone in the LCSS loves him and look forward to his return next year. The seminary is looking for more guests Lutheran Professors. Please contact Rev. Doug Morton, the Dean of Theological Education at the Trinity Lutheran Seminary if you feel called to teach and or to minister to the people of South Sudan.
The LCSS is in the process of hiring a new Academic Dean as Gatluak Dup is no longer working for the seminary. The seminary has interviewed a potential candidate; please pray for the process.
I will be in the country until the LCMC Gathering; please let me know if congregations around your area would like to hear what God is doing in the LCSS.
In Christ's Love,
Rev. Jordan M Long, President
Lutheran Church of South Sudan
P.O. Box 345
Overseas phone: +251948238912
Phone: 585-317-2841 - U.S. Contact
Here is John Hobbins' last FB posting before he left Gambella last week:
My last worship service with the congregation that meets at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Gambella Ethiopia this past Sunday was full of tears and thanksgiving at the same time. The dead and wounded from the war in South Sudan weigh heavily on the people. How long, O Lord, they cry, until we see relief?
I could tell many stories but if I went into detail, spreading the news might hurt the very people I want to help.
For this community to have a pastor from the US join them for a month, preach for them, visit their sick, greet each one of them, and teach Hebrew to their pastors and evangelists gave them a sense that they are not alone.
Greeting is no small thing. I worked hard to establish eye contact with every one of my fellow worshippers in the church that gathers at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, a challenging endeavor in the case of young people trained not to look their elders in the eyes.
Still, I knew it was the right thing because I have rarely seen eyes smile so broadly in return. For someone from halfway around the world to treat you like a brother or sister, to share their life with you body and soul, is no small thing.
I spent dozens of hours this July listening and praying and encouraging as best I could, not only with Lutherans of South Sudan whose guests I have been, but with a number of aid workers of various organizations I met at the hotel, with whom I became fast friends.
The stories I might tell: the best stories always remain confidential. This past month, who was ministering to whom? You know you are in the best of all possible worlds when it works both ways. For any pastor who doubts her or his calling, there is a cure. Spend a month, spend a year, spend a lifetime with people for whom the basics of the Christian faith are lived realities.
Attend a worship service in which the number of sermons (short, let it be noted) are four or five, by men and women young and old, in which the sense of surrender and commitment to a God who stands in contradiction to the suffering they currently endure is something you can taste in your mouth, bitter and sweet at the same time.
Worship with a congregation that can sing hymn after hymn from memory, without a songbook because the words are written in their hearts, and without accompaniment except for a plastic container and stick serving as a drum, and your faith will be revived. Or it will be born for the first time.
In Gambella Ethiopia, on the edge of a war zone, with tens of thousands of people crossing the border to escape war and famine every month, belief is a thick reality, with strong metaphysical, ethical, and aesthetic dimensions.
All of this stands in contrast to the lightweightedness of belief in places of relative comfort and prosperity, in which people are pulled into several directions at once, have no core identity, and become easy prey to the demons that haunt the world in which we live.
I am exceedingly thankful for the month I was invited to share with brothers and sisters in Gambella Ethiopia. I now have another home away from home. Blessed are the ties that bind. In this case, the ties that bind are very strong indeed.