This past summer – in the thick of the rainy season – I, along with a few other local Every Village (EV) staff members, made a trip to Wau, the second largest city in South Sudan. We occasionally make this trip to buy bulk food, fuel, or construction materials. In the rainy season, the holes in the unpaved roads fill with water and the trip takes on a whole new risk. Despite the distance being a mere 65 miles, travel speeds are slow and it can often take up to four hours (that’s an average of 16.3 mph, for anyone curious).
Our travels to Wau were absent of any problems, as it was a sunny and warm day. We packed our Land Cruiser with bags of cement and other construction items, and started our return trip around 4:30pm. As the sun was setting, the rain started pouring, and I began to get anxious. In the poor visibility, and with the roads flooding, I feared that we could get stuck in the mud at any moment, or worse, the Land Cruiser could flip over on the uneven embankments. Thanks be to God that we made it home safely around 9pm, after which I made the resolution to never again drive to Wau in the rainy season – or at the very least, be the one doing the driving.
The next day, I took this picture of our Land Cruiser and it got me thinking. A little over a year ago, as my family and I were making preparations to move to South Sudan, it is safe to say that I was operating on a naïve understanding of what life on the mission field looked like. I knew the living conditions would be different from that of the States, but experience has rubbed away the once glossy veneer as I have come to accept the realities of life on mission for Christ.
Honestly, the realities are similar to what I experienced while living in the States. But, for some reason, that is exactly what caught me off guard. The mission field has times of anxiety, broken relationships, frustration, fear, and sadness. Sometimes the roads are bumpy, the visibility poor, the rain thick, and we come out looking a little rough.
I say this not to focus on the negative, but rather to share my story of coming to grips with a realistic understanding of what life on mission looks like. Thankfully, just like a bucket of water and some soap can wash away the mud, the grace of God washes away the blemishes that threaten to conceal our vision and distract us from our focus: to make His name known and to bring Him glory.