July 2021 GRN Update

Please forgive us as we know that it has been some time since we have written an update!

As with many other overseas ministries, the Covid 19 pandemic has adversely affected our work in South Sudan. And, as challenges have come our way, we’ve needed to monitor and adjust. However, at the same time, we are glad to say that we are continuing to do what we have always done. Serving the needs of people has always been our top priority. Although GRN has worked on some significant projects, those projects have only been a “platform” for us to meet needs and share the love of Jesus Christ with suffering people.

Our team in South Sudan is currently focusing its attention on helping local villagers plow their fields. Meeting this need is a huge help to the people. Besides, as always, the GRN team is sharing Christ’s love wherever they go. We constantly ask about the greatest needs and then do our best to meet those needs when it is possible.

Our friend, Father Charles Busak, serves everyone and not just Catholic parishioners. He has been a great help to lead us to the neediest people in the area. Father Charles regularly puts his life on the line, as does our team, to help the most vulnerable and has become a dear friend to us at GRN.

As some of you already know, this past January, I was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. This disease has slowed me down as it has prevented me from working, driving and other family functions. At times, it’s even affected my walking. I have currently received a newer treatment and am awaiting the results. Your prayers are greatly appreciated! Since many people who receive this treatment experience relief from some of their symptoms, it gives me hope. Your prayers are greatly appreciated!

During this season of life, I have learned a great deal. For example, I realize that who I am is much more important than what I do. What I do may be notable, but when what I could do came to a screeching halt, I asked myself, what matters now? What I do might temporarily impress people (at times, this, unfortunately, includes ourselves). But, in contrast, who I am has great eternal value. A friend recently reminded me that I am called a human “being” and not a human “doing.” However, I have focused most of my adult life on what I can do rather than who I can be. Maybe some of you can relate?

My prayer is that we will be more like Mother Teresa and focus on what kind of person we can be, and as we do, we will change the world around us. She changed the world, and we can too. Mother Teresa never felt like anyone special, yet anyone who knew her believed that she was. People followed her because they wanted to be like her. And although she never asked anyone to work with her, thousands of people did. I, too, wish to be more like her, yet I realize that I have a long way to go. So please remember me in your prayers.

On September 5, 1997, I was participating in a large missions conference in Orlando, Florida. There were hundreds of vendors and over a thousand people present when someone announced over the loudspeaker that Mother Teresa had died. Within seconds, the place went quiet; you could have heard a pin drop. Everyone knew that a giant of the faith had left us for her eternal home.

I wonder if anyone will notice when my boat leaves for distant shores? If anyone does, I hope that it will be happy thoughts based on the person I was and not for the things I did.

On April 5, 2021, another faithful servant died. Archbishop Emeritus Paolino Lukudu Loro of the Archdiocese of Juba, South Sudan, finished his race. He, like Mother Teresa, impacted the world around him. In a war-torn nation, he did his best to deliver peace and love, and as a result, South Sudan will never be the same. He received a hero’s burial. May you rest in peace now, Archbishop; your war is finally over.

The Affect of COVID -19 on Koggi Village, South Sudan

Thank you for your continued faithful support of GRN’s work in South Sudan. We appreciate your prayers, financial donations, and encouragement very much! Our hearts are eternally grateful to you. There’s no way GRN can serve without your help.

We pray for each one of you and your families.

The time since COVID -19 struck our world has been a trial for our staff in Koggi Village. In March, South Sudan closed its borders. No one has been able to go in or out of the country. Dickson, our field coordinator, happened to be home for a visit with his family in Kenya when the borders closed. That means our other staff members have been in Koggi Village without him ever since. However, he speaks with them frequently and can direct them via the telephone.

To update you on the current situation in Koggi, we thought we’d share some recent email (and telephone) messages from Dickson.

                                                      

Here’s an email from a few weeks ago:

Greetings,
 I am so glad to hear that all is well with you and your family. Thank you very much for the money wire.

The GRN Team at Koggi, my family and I are doing well during this scary period of COVID-19; we thank Almighty God for He is faithful!                                                                  

Special thanks to you, Brother Tom (your family), and all of GRN’s partners for your tireless support even during a time when the whole world is going crazy!  I have never seen anything like this before!         

Maybe God is saying something to His people. Let us keep on praying that it can be revealed to us. I mention you guys in my prayers every day. We have come a long way together!
 May God bless you more than ever seen anything like this before!                    

Borders are closed, No flights; everyone is scared almost out of their skin!! However, our Lord God is in full control.

May you all be safe in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen

In Christ, Brother Dickson Mutiso

 

This one is from October 14:

Much greetings from the GRN team, my family and me in Africa.
Thank you so much for your prayers! Thank you, also, in advance for the money wire.
 A lot has changed due to the COVID-19, but God is in control.


We do pray for you, your family and all our donors/friends of GRN every day.
Truly prayer works! Big time.

It was so wonderful speaking to brother Tom yesterday. I could see/feel his big smile all the way! May God bless you guys more and more every day. I will do as you have advised when the money gets to me.

I am in the process of drilling a borehole for ITAA Primary School in Kenya as per your advice and support.                                                                                                                          

It has become evident that due to the heavy prolonged rains, there is a looming food shortage in the Equatorial region of South Sudan (Koggi Village included).

By using the GRN’S tractor, our team was able to plow/till some land for planting food. We have also helped a few villagers at Koggi to plant food. The same service was extended to the Catholic Parish in Lobonok, South Sudan.

Thank you so much for the support; otherwise, we wouldn’t have managed to give our families highly needed care. May God bless you with His abundant love. 

Your brother in Christ, Dickson Mutiso

 

Also, via a telephone conversation, Dickson told Tom that there had been a tremendous amount of flooding recently. Our guys in Koggi have not been able to leave the immediate area due to the Kit River flooding. Purchasing much-needed supplies have been virtually impossible.

Please pray for them as not only have they not seen their families since March, but now they’re even having a difficult time buying food and other necessities. However, they are doing whatever they can to help the local people of Koggi.

Thankfully, the men can send money to their wives and children (in Kenya) using their telephones. So their families have not suffered financial loss due to their separation. But being apart from their loved ones for such a long time has taken a toll on them.

Please continue to remember the GRN staff in Koggi Village and their families in your prayers. They are in desperate need of them.

Thank you again for your help as we continue to bring the love of Christ to the people of Koggi Village, South Sudan.

We pray for God to bless you and keep you safe.

In Christ’s love,
Tom, Elli, Dickson, and the rest of GRN’s team in South Sudan

Healing Emotional Wounds

This is my friend Charles Kulang in South Sudan. Charles is a catechist at St. Mark’s Parish and a dynamic preacher. Approximately one and a half years ago, his wife and sister-in-law were shot and killed by members of a rebel group while preparing dinner for their families. At the same time, his little boy, niece and nephew were abducted. Someone ran down and killed the man that took his son and then returned the boy to his father. Charles’ niece and nephew have not been heard from since that horrible event took place. Charles is asking for prayer. He told me on my last trip (two months ago) that his son has not spoken since that evening. He wonders if it is because his wife’s blood covered his son on that fateful night. Please pray for Charles, his children and his brother as they look to God to heal their emotional wounds. Please pray for peace in South Sudan, and please pray for Global Response Network as we continue to walk with them. Apart from my family, this is where my heart is. In a couple of months, I will return to be with them.

 

Audio Bible Distribution

By Tom Zurowski

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of joining our GRN team in South Sudan. Together, we joyfully distributed 100 Audio Bibles (provided by our friends at The Voice of the Martyrs Canada) to the village of Sindiru.

The audio Bibles are solar-powered, which enables the villagers to use them without the need for batteries. If treated properly, these Bibles can last quite a long time. It is not unusual to walk by someone and hear the Bibles playing as the people go about their daily work. Each one is equipped to play the New Testament both in Bari (local language) and in English (their choice).

Many of the people in South Sudan are illiterate and would not be able to read a Bible even if someone gave them one. So for many of the villagers, an audio Bible is their only hope of being able to “read” Sacred Scripture.

Through listening, the words of the Bible come alive and fill the mind and heart with hope. One of the greatest needs of the people in South Sudan is hope. In a place stricken with pain, hunger, fear, suffering and death, hope is perhaps the greatest commodity. The words of the Bible instruct, encourage and direct. You see, when God is all that you have, His words take on a whole new meaning. They become what they were meant to be, the road map to Heaven, the very road map of life!

Smiling Kids School New Year’s Celebration

Many years ago GRN started a school in Pakistan named Smiling Kids. (It serves underprivileged and children with special needs. These kids are from Christian homes whose parents are not able to send their children to public schools because of their Christian beliefs. Some children can attend Catholic schools, but the nuns and students are often the targets of Islamic fundamentalists. The schools and their faith in Jesus are not “welcome” in Pakistan, but remain legal through the government.) Each Christmas, the school celebrates the birth of Christ by reading the gospel story of the Nativity. Then they share a meal, give gifts, worship through song and holy dance and present a play that tells the story of our Lord’s birth. Every year since GRN had an office in Pakistan, we have financially supported the work of this school. We always look forward to helping with the Christmas celebration. The school doesn’t have the extra funds to provide gifts for the children without GRN’s help. Once again, Global Response Network had the privilege of helping the children celebrate Christmas and the New Year with gifts. We count it an honor to be a part of their holiday celebrations each year! Here are a few pictures that they sent to us recently. The children are very grateful to receive their box of small gifts.

 

          

Thank you!

THANK YOU to each one of you who support GRN through your prayers and monthly financial support! Your faithful giving has enabled GRN to work and minister in South Sudan since 1999! Without you, it would not have been possible.

We are excited that we are starting the process of building St. Stephen’s Church in Koggi Village, South Sudan. Up until now, several significant challenging circumstances have prevented us from moving forward with the project. These circumstances have been out of our control. We have had to place the safety and security of our staff and the villagers above our plans to build a church building.

But now, our field coordinator, Dickson, believes we can begin! Our friends in Koggi Village depend on us to help them. Instead of simply meeting under a tree, they desire to have a building where they can gather to worship God.

We have had the funds to create the basic foundation of the church. And some money has been given toward lumber and nails. Yet we have a LONG way to go to see this church completed.

It’s hard to believe, but South Sudan is an expensive country to work in. We need to import virtually everything necessary for this project.

That’s where YOU come in. We need your help now more than ever.

Please prayerfully consider giving a financial gift specifically toward completing St. Stephen’s Church. One hundred percent of your donation will go toward this project.

On behalf of our brothers and sisters in Koggi, thank you for your generosity!

River Sand Delivered and Maze crops

A message from our field coordinator, Dickson:

All is well with the entire team in South Sudan. We have had a good rainy week and were able to bring more river sand to the site for building both the St. Stephen’s Church and the Camp Koggi tukuls.
The whole of Koggi village is so excited and happy that “their church” is almost here. We had some young visitors (as well as many others) come and celebrate with us the day the sand was delivered. The GRN team out here is equally excited.
As you can see, our maize plants are healthy. We are thankful to God that it is safe enough to be in the fields growing crops this season.

Giving Tuesday Opportunity

We know that many of you like to give to needy people during the Christmas season. And you probably know, tomorrow is called “Giving Tuesday.” It’s a day after all of the buying activity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to encourage people to also think about charitable giving. If you participate in Giving Tuesday, we believe we have an opportunity that will really touch your heart.

Many years ago GRN started a school in Pakistan named Smiling Kids. It serves underprivileged and children with special needs. These kids are from Christian homes whose parents are not able to send their children to public schools because of their Christian beliefs. Some children can attend Catholic school, but the nuns and students are often the targets of Islamic fundamentalists. The schools and their faith in Jesus are not “welcome” in Pakistan, but remain legal through the government.

We are not willing to give the names of the people who run the Smiling Kids school. But we can tell you that they worked for GRN for several years. And they have faithfully continued to secretly run the school so that Christian children can receive an education in basic subjects and the Catechism.

Each Christmas, the school celebrates the birth of Christ by reading the gospel story of the Nativity. Then they share a meal, give gifts, worship through song and holy dance and present a play that tells the story of our Lord’s birth. Every year since GRN had an office in Pakistan, we have financially supported the work of this school. We always look forward to helping with the Christmas celebration. For the school doesn’t have the extra funds to provide gifts for the children without GRN’s help.

Please pray for these kids and about helping them this Christmas season. The US dollar goes farther in Pakistan, so a little money goes a long way. And every penny that you designate to Pakistan will go directly to the students at Smiling Kids school and their Christmas celebration. Thank you so much!

You can either give online or send a check directly to GRN @ 6920 South Fork Creek Road, Liberty, KY 42539.

God bless you!

Friends Helping Friends

We recently received an email from our GRN field coordinator, Dickson Mutiso. He let us know that he and the GRN team, in Koggi, South Sudan, have helped to prepare land for our dear friend, Father Charles Busak. Together, along with the help of local people, they were able to clear the land and prepare it for crops. This work is very difficult, yet our Lord Jesus commands us to love one another by serving one another as we are able. We hope that these pictures will encourage you to pray for the entire GRN team. Our need for prayerful and financial support is great. So please consider what part you can play  to keep this work moving forward. We thank you in advance for helping us as we reach out to help all of our friends in South Sudan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This picture of Tom and Father Charles was taken this past April.