AID’s supporters have been giving toward John Jal Deng’s theology tuition fees at George Whitefield College in Cape Town, South Africa. John comes from South Sudan and, once he’s graduated, plans to return home to train up other pastors. He is now coming to the end of his second year of training and we caught up with him (through our partners, CORE Training and Development) to see how it has gone.
Over the last year John has studied Isaiah, 1 Corinthians, Hebrews, Church Reformation, Preaching and Greek. He enjoyed them all and found Isaiah particularly fascinating, especially the oracle concerning Sudan in Isaiah 18. He also enjoyed learning about church reformation and how people such as Luther rediscovered the true gospel.
“[My studies] encourage us how those great guys like Luther worked very hard to bring the gospel into lives and why we have it today…So we need to preach the gospel, the gospel that is centered on Christ, the cross and salvation.”
Whilst studying 1 Corinthians John was struck that the issues facing the church in Corinth are the same ones facing the Church in South Sudan – from division in the church to sexual immorality, marriage, remarriage and divorce. John is now eager to go and teach what the Bible says about marriage in a South Sudanese context:
“What does the Bible say now about marriage and how can I apply it to our cultural context of marriage? Why don’t we go with the Bible rather than diverting to our culture? It’s a great privilege for people like me to get to know that kind of idea so I can be able to see the text and be able to preach it to my people correctly.”
John’s biggest challenge this semester has been the hard slog of study and reading though he thinks it’s worth it and, as he looks back, realises just how much he has learnt. Initially he found languages particularly difficult. However, in the first Hebrew exam he got a distinction of 83% and his lecturer told him recently that he got 90% in another exam. He is hoping to do well in his end of year exam.
“I think languages are good because these are the original languages of which our Bible was written… it also encourages me to learn them into detail maybe later.”
Over the Christmas holidays John plans to go to Uganda and visit family. Whilst there, he is keen to make the most of the opportunities in refugee camps where thousands of people gather, many of whom are open to the gospel. (John recently visited a church service in a refugee camp that was attended by over 2,000 people).
“Here (at GWC) I have been privileged; I have been given everything. But if I don’t go and preach, I will have no use. I have to go and fish and use the knowledge given to me… Our people need the word of God, they are traumatised … so as I will visit them, I will find an opportunity, maybe it would be great to share with them, to counsel them, try to hear God’s word and to share whatever I have with them.”
How can we be praying for and supporting John?
Please continue to pray for John’s studies and, particularly at the moment, for success in his exams.
Pray also for God to use him as he preaches in refugee camps over the holidays, that he might bring the hope of the gospel and comfort to the hurting.