CORE Training and Development ran a training course for 40-50 pastors in the town of Bor at the end of April.
Bor is a town particularly affected by the violence of South Sudan’s 2 civil wars and most recent conflict. Soon after fighting broke out in Juba in December 2013, Bor was destroyed and most inhabitants fled. Michael, who attended CORE’s training course described the impact this has had on the community:
“Almost the whole community is traumatized and so we need more counselling. The mental healing is seriously needed. There should be a spiritual forgiveness together with forgetfulness within the Christian Community.”
This emphasises one of AID’s core beliefs: the Church is vital in bringing healing and reconciliation to this troubled nation. Therefore, as part of the process of deepening faith and obedience, training pastors is a crucial aspect of stabilising South Sudan.
CORE recruited three teachers to carry out the training: Darien Khlentzos, director of CORE Training and Development, Misheck Mbevi, a senior pastor of a church in Kenya and Rev Ian Pennicook, an Anglican clergyman from Australia. They got off to a rocky start when security concerns increased dramatically across South Sudan at the same time as they were planning to travel from Juba to Bor. This was due to the scheduled return to Juba of rebel leader, Riek Machar, to form what is now the transitional government of South Sudan. Travel to Bor was temporarily postponed but after a week the team were able to travel and begin training.
Building Church Leaders
On Monday 25 April, the teachers began working through ‘The Whole Counsel of God,’ a course developed by CORE which covers a Bible Overview, key theological topics such as: ‘The Devil and the Fall’ and also tackles issues particularly relevant to the Church in Africa. Its aim is to give pastors a “strong framework by which to understand God’s plan, and by which to dig deeper and even to inspire some to undertake further, formal Bible training” (CORE Training and Development). Sadly, Darien became extremely unwell on the first day of the course and was unable to continue teaching. Rev Pennicook and Mbevi continued to teach the eager pastors, between them working through as many topics as they could. At the end of the week Rev Mbevi wrote,
“Pastor Training at Bor, South Sudan done. About 50 pastors trained on The Whole Counsel of God. We have concluded the training. 32 topics covered. From Creation to New Creation. Very good responses from the pastors. Very happy that they can read and preach from the Bible with more clarity. They have beseeched us to return back soon. Thank you for your prayers and support. All glory to God.”
Some comments from pastors, deacons and evangelists who attended:
“As a pastor and teacher it will help me to teach others” Pastor Abraham Noon (left)
“It will help (me) a lot to be a good shepherd to God’s flock.” Pastor Gabriel (right)
“It has been very important to be because it has refreshed the word of God in my mind and that will cause me to resume my duties in the ministry of God. I would like your ministry school to take place yearly if possible on your side and that it extends to other states here in South Sudan” Michael
More training please!
The pastors had an overwhelming hunger for more training to be done. Rev Daniel echoed the sentiment of many when he said, “If we do it every year, that should be good for us!” Others requested Bibles, a Bible college in Bor and that local people could lead the training in future. The need is all the more clear considering the deeply traumatic circumstances many of the pastors and their congregations face:
“The kind of stories these pastors are telling are chilling. Have had goosebumps a number of times. With much trouble we must enter the kingdom of God.” Rev Mbevi
- So please pray for these pastors in the trials they face. Pray they would remember “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” 2 Corinthians 4:17, and that they would endure with patience, godliness, faithfulness and joy.
- Give thanks for hungry and encouraged pastors, pray with us that we could offer more training to pastors in Bor.
- Pray that a derelict theological college in Bor might be resurrected and that our partnership with Bishop Gwynne College would be well established and effective so that pastors are trained to a high standard and the college is able to support more across the country.
- Please also pray for Darien as he recovers from a severe sickness he picked up in Bor.
- Give thanks, as Darien summaries: “We praise God for His grace as there were so many things at different stages that could have potentially prevented the course from continuing.”