A Personal Visit to the New South Sudan Bible School
Tim Brumfield of Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas, recently visited the South Sudan Bible School in Pajok, which you are so generously supporting. Below is a compacted version of his firsthand report.
Two days after leaving Lubbock, Texas on March 13, I was excited to finally arrived in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. Local evangelist and South Sudan Bible School teacher Isaya Jackson met me at the airport.
Passing through immigration took $100 and less than an hour because I had already received my visa from the South Sudan Embassy in Washington D.C. Isaya took me to a hotel with air conditioning and internet, but it cost $120 a night.
On Friday, we bought a 3G modem for Isaya to try to get Internet access in Pajok, which will be a great asset for communicating with the United States. We also bought cases of water and rented a 4X4 Toyota Prado Diesel for our trip from Juba to Pajok.
The final leg of our journey took nearly six hours and cost us $400! The road was paved near the capital; but as we got further away, we ran into construction. The United States had donated the construction of a highway from Juba to Uganda.
After we turned off of that highway, the road quickly became a narrow dirt road so rough that our speed ranged between two and ten miles per hour. I'm glad it was not rainy season!
After arriving in Pajok, a road grader was used to smooth some of the roads, which Isaya said had not been bladed since the 1970s. Visualize a continually washed-out dirt road with no maintenance in over 40 years!
The government provided the grader, and The Sudan Project helped the villagers pay for the required diesel fuel. From the photo, you will see that gas stations look quite different from in the States.
We now spotted Pajok's first cell tower, which was built a few months ago. The new MTN tower was great cause for celebration for the 53,000 residents of Pajok. The Internet is not yet working, but cell phones are working well; and I was able to call my family in Texas for a reasonable price.
In Pajok, I stayed in the fairly new Atebe River Hotel, which ran a generator at night from about 7:00 to 10:30 p.m. so we could have some electricity. Several businesses now have solar panels or generators. All computers, cell phones, cameras, or other battery-operated devices must be taken to these businesses for recharging. This is a major expense but the only option. I did help Isaya secure a solar panel.
I brought a small printer with me and tried printing by car battery. It worked fine with the power inverter I also brought, but finding someone willing to loan us a car battery was not easy.
Pajok has no public water system. Residents get their water for drinking and cleaning from the Atebe River, which runs thru the middle of town. Women must carry water morning and evening every day. They also work hard gathering firewood, cooking all the meals, and taking care of the children.
The South Sudan Bible School was about halfway through its first session with 17 full-time students--all future Sudanese preachers!
You can see the dorm behind the men. They are presently using the clinic beds until we can get beds for their dorm.
Classes run Monday through Friday, beginning with a 7:30 a.m. devotional and an 8:00 class. Students are taught until 4:30 in the afternoon. I taught an evangelism course March 19-30 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. On Wednesday afternoons, the students go out into the villages to teach.
The classroom is unbearably hot in the afternoons, but the students are very eager to learn and eager to share what they learn. They break for hot tea and bread from 10:00-10:30, which is their breakfast.
The kitchen has a dirt floor, and cooking is done outside because of the heat. The big bags in the photo are charcoal .
For lunch, "Kwon" is served--a handheld corn cake. Different items can be added for flavor such as spinach, leaves, beef stew or fish. I ate with the teachers every day and stayed healthy.
On Sunday, March 18, we got to assemble for worship with about 70 church members. The singing was great, and the preaching was, too! A week later, around 80 were present for worship. The new church building is the white one, and the orange building is the new clinic that should be opening very soon.
On Sunday, April 1, I got to visit "the church beyond the river." They had only been meeting for about three weeks but already had nearly 50 in attendance. Three of the Bible School students were there to preach and lead!
Other students go to their own villages to preach on weekends. On April 1, 55 more souls were baptized into Christ.
The fine Bible School teachers are very capable. Each has his own special gifts, which are being used very well. We will share photos of the teachers and their first class of students in a later issue.