John Jal Deng is a South Sudanese pastor. He is currently studying theology at George Whitefield College in Cape Town, South Africa through the hard work of CORE Training and Development, a charity which aims to strengthen the Church in countries with depleted infrastructure like South Sudan. John will finish his studies very soon. AID supports this project by contributing funds for John (and others in the future). Here at AID, we know that preaching the gospel faithfully in South Sudan can bring true, lasting change – this is why we are so keen to support people like John who have a desire to share Christ in their home country. The following update is based on a recent interview with John provided by CORE.
After graduating on 29th November, John will return to Bishop Gwynne College to be part of the faculty there – the college is one of the main training centres for the Episcopal Church of South Sudan. While John is very thankful to God for the fantastic opportunity he has had to study in South Africa, he is excited to return home and pass on knowledge he has received while in Cape Town.
Responsibilities at Bishop Gwynne College
John’s new role will include helping his colleagues to develop a new degree programme with modules in Old Testament, systematic theology and an introduction to Greek and Hebrew. Previously he has mentioned that he has enjoyed the pastoral counselling training he has received while studying at George Whitefield College and John will be able to make good use of this in his home country where there is much suffering and grief resulting from conflict.
In South Sudan, the conflict that has caused over 380,000 deaths since 2013 is fought along tribal lines. This permeates every level of society – even the Church – but John knows that the transforming love of the gospel has no limits. He says:
‘The issue of tribalism can be challenged by the gospel. We are South Sudanese and as the church we are the body of Christ and need to see one another as brothers and sisters. There is no need to kill each other. This will be part of my role at the college – to teach the pastors so that they can be sent back to transform the community and our people.’
We praise God for John’s willingness to play a part in bringing unity and reconciliation to his community and pray that he, along with other staff at Bishop Gwynne College, will be a shining light in addressing issues that have caused so much bloodshed and suffering.
Future South Sudanese Students at George Whitefield College
Samuel Marial, the Principal of Bishop Gwynne College, has described the increasing number of South Sudanese students studying at George Whitefield in order to go back to teach at Bishop Gwynne as a ‘movement of transformation’. John is encouraged that he can see God’s plan for South Sudan in action through the work of CORE sending students to South Africa to study:
‘We had never thought of coming to South Africa to study but we realised that God is working through many people – through CORE Training and Development, through Bishop Gwynne, through George Whitefield and AID. The more people that are trained and go back to our country, our church and country can be changed. I believe God is preparing good leaders for the church, who will transform the country once and for all. We believe this is God’s work.’
How Can We Pray?
John recognises the difference that we can make through prayer and is encouraged that so many people are willing to support him in this way. He wants us to pray for more South Sudanese students to have the opportunity to study in South Africa (CORE are in the process of sending two new students and AID are supporting these). John would also like to get married at some point but this can be difficult in South Sudan due to the tradition of high bridal prices, which are usually paid in livestock. Please pray for God’s provision – John trusts that with Him, nothing is impossible.
Having tragically lost some family members during the conflict, John is aware of the dangers facing people in his home country. However, he is courageous because God gives him the Holy Spirit to direct him and grant him boldness:
‘…there is a lot happening in the background at home. I know that God will use me and my country and church need me. The little I have, God will use me to share with my people, to challenge them and transform my country so that people live together as brothers and Christians. This is what I’d love to see.’
Please use these pointers to pray for John as he returns to South Sudan in a month’s time. His desire to serve his people and bring the light of the gospel to the darkness of war is truly inspiring. Pray too for CORE Training and Development’s work as they organise the training of further South Sudanese students in Cape Town, and for AID as we aim to contribute funds to make this happen.
‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ – Joshua 1:7-9