When I moved from Khartoum to Juba in 2011 to help start a new Bible Society in South Sudan – the world’s newest country – I realised that we would be starting from just about ground zero.
The Bible Society officially began work in 2012 and I and the only other staff member were working out of a bomb damaged warehouse with no office, an unreliable electricity supply and no board. God is faithful, however, and today we are in a much better position. We have built offices in the warehouse, we have four staff members and we are guided by a supportive and active board, whose members are always available for meetings, even at very short notice. We also have good relationships with churches as we work to provide their congregations with Bibles in their own languages at affordable prices.
Surprised and deeply touched
But last week something happened that surprised and deeply touched me. It was an incident that made me aware that our work is being noticed and appreciated by a segment of society I hadn’t thought was particularly interested in it.
A consignment of Scriptures, donated by the Korean Bible Society, had arrived by truck at the gates outside Bible House. Last year, when a large consignment of Scriptures arrived, we had to pay for porters to help unload them into the warehouse. This time it was different.
A group of youths gathered
As the lorry pulled up outside the gates, a group of youths gathered around asking if they could help carry the boxes. They were ‘boda boda’ (motorcycle taxi) drivers who hang around on the streets outside Bible House, waiting for customers.
I asked them to come into my office so that we could negotiate how much we would pay for each box to be offloaded, which is how we did it last year.
“No, we want to help you for free,” they told me.
At first I thought I had heard wrong. I asked them if they would do the job and then ask me for a lot of money at the end. But they kept insisting they wanted to do it free of charge:
‘The Bible Society belongs to us’
“We are Christians and the Bible Society belongs to us. We don’t have much money to give but God has given us strength, and we want to use it to serve him.”
Stunned, and perhaps still a little disbelieving, my program coordinator and I stood back and let the young men proceed with the task. They worked hard in the heat, singing Christian songs while they offloaded and carried more than 300 boxes into the warehouse.
“We may not pray every day but we pray on Sundays and God hears our prayers,” they said.
I thanked them for what they had done and told them that I thanked God, too, for speaking to their hearts and inspiring them to serve him. They went back to their boda bodas, smiling with happiness.
For a new and small Bible Society like ours, help and support of any kind is greatly appreciated, and we are so grateful for what these young men did. We will be staying in touch with them, not to ask them for help, but to help them get to know and love Christ more. We have already contacted some churches to help us do this.
Please pray for these young men, giving thanks for their open hearts, and asking God to draw them even closer to himself.