Reach This Far

A Journey into the South Sudanese Hills

Photography by Joel Krahn

The TIMO Team Arrives

An estimated 75 thousand Lopit live in the Lopit Hills in the Torit district of South Sudan. This group of agriculturalists and cattle herders live in hillside villages, arranged in compounds according to family size. In early 2014, Africa Inland Mission placed an eight-member multi-national team in two Lopit villages, Ohilang and Iboni. The team, led by a Kenyan couple, Joshua and Justina Musuva, hopes to support churches already established by previous work in the area and to continue to share the Gospel among this unreached people group.

The team consists of four Kenyans (from different tribes), two Brazilians, one New Zealander, and one American.

Each week, the team meets in the shade of a thatched roof at the home of team leaders Joshua and Justina, located in a valley between the two villages of Ohilang and Iboni. The meetings include a time of prayer, worship, study, and language learning.

At right: Justina teaches the team a lesson on the Lopit language. After several months of training, TIMO members are able to have small conversations with their neighbors, but much practice and learning is still needed before they are fluent.

It will be fun to see how we work together and form unity. I think this challenge will be such a wonderful testimony to the Lopit community.

Ashley

Each day, the team members go out into the village to intentionally build relationships. Slowly, they are beginning to build trust and respect, but it is a long process. Here, team member Robert, of Kenya, enjoys the company of some of the village elders and poses with his Lopit friend Thaddeus, his language helper and cultural guide.
The walls of Ashley and Marlene’s home bear witness to some of life’s challenges: cracks had to be sealed to prevent scorpions from taking up residence.

 

Life here isn’t always easy. Some days are downright difficult… Thankfully, we have an amazing God who assures us that when we are weak, we are strong in Him. He is our strength and can use us, even in our weakness.

Marlene

A simple cook-top stove in a team member’s home. Simple things like getting water and gas become far more difficult in remote regions like the Lopit mountains.

Team members Marlene (left) from New Zealand and Ashley from the United States, inspect their tomato plants with Joy, the daughter of team leaders Joshua and Justina.

Fresh vegetables inside one of the team homes. With no refrigeration, perishables like produce, milk, and meat are harder to keep and therefore are cherished.

Lopit villagers gathered in the fuera, or village center, in Ohilang, a village where part of AIM’s Training In Ministry Outreach (TIMO) team is based. The bundle of sticks standing behind the children represent the number of generations that have lived in Ohilang, which residents claim is over 400 years old. The Lopit are cattle herders, and often carry guns to protect their herds from raiders and other threats. The man standing at right is responsible for granting permission for Lopit–and our team members–to live in the village.
Clouds begin to break over the village of Ohilang. Please pray with us as our team continues to live and serve among the Lopit people, strengthening the church there, and being salt and light among the men, women, and children they have come to love.

 

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