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Our Work in South Sudan  Dennis Cady

Together with Chuck Dennis, I’m blessed to be part of the Lord’s work in South Sudan. That nation gained independence in 2011 – slightly more than a decade ago. Beyond what I’ve written about in this article, there are other works (but not a great many) undertaken by Churches of Christ in South Sudan. This article tells only of the work in which we’re personally involved.

How our involvement began

For decades I undertook mission work in Indonesia. After that work, in 2011 Chuck Dennis and I formed a partnership. We were looking for a new mission effort. As part of that search, I contacted Erik Tryggestad, world traveller and at that time on the editorial staff of The Christian Chronicle. I told Erik that Chuck and I were looking for a place we could pioneer – we didn’t want to build on the work of others. Second, we wanted a place where we could combine spiritual and humanitarian efforts. Third, it should be a place others wouldn’t go because it was too dirty or too dangerous. Erik’s immediate response was: ‘You need to go to South Sudan.’ He had briefly visited there some months before.


Let me emphasise: our work is in South Sudan, not southern Sudan. South Sudan separated from Sudan after a 22-year civil war. Much manpower and money had been devoted to the war effort. After the war, infrastructure, schools, and many of the things we take for granted barely existed.

Our first trip to South Sudan took place from December 2011 to January 2012 when the nation was less than a year old. On that first trip, one man was baptised. He has since migrated to the United States. Before leaving South Sudan, he taught friends and five were baptised soon after we left. One of those, Jacob Agany, coordinates much of what we do now. Since 2011, we’ve made over a dozen more trips to South Sudan.

Our approach

In a nation where government recognition and approval are needed for many things, we felt the best way to get our foot in the door was to find opportunities to help in ways where there was a clear need. But the South Sudanese needed virtually everything. So, we decided to focus on a limited geographic region. This was because we believed that spreading ourselves and future Christian workers too thin would be a mistake.

We chose the largest state: Jonglei. We began in the state capital, Bor. That’s still our primary focus. At the personal request of the Governor of Bor, we started a vocational boarding school. This school remains a major part of what we do. Early meeting places for worship were rented rooms or school rooms. 

We wrote four Bible correspondence courses specifically for a South Sudanese audience. Another was adapted from a correspondence course written in the United States. We opened a literature centre in the main market. This was primarily a Bible correspondence course office. 

There was no postal system in the country. Students had to pick up lessons from the literature centre and return the lessons there for grading purposes. This gave the Christians administering the centre a lot of personal contact with students. It also provided Christians a place to hang out together.

Prior to independence, Sudan had been a British colony. English remains the medium of instruction in schools. Many people also speak local dialects and Arabic. 

Our correspondence courses are all in English. This naturally made us focus on the younger men and women who had gone to school. More than two million people had died during the civil war. This resulted in approximately 80% of the population being aged under 30. These young adults hunger for education and reading material in any form. Our courses became popular and most of the early baptisms resulted from that outreach. 

The work progresses

As time went on, we knew local Christians must carry the Gospel into the future. Chuck and I are both 76 years old. So, 20 young men were selected to be sent to the Mutare School of Preaching in Zimbabwe and the Andrew Connally School of Preaching in Tanzania. Three or four were sent each year. Their families were provided for while they were gone. So far, 18 have graduated from the two-year programs in these preaching schools. 

After graduation, each graduate is sponsored as an evangelist for three years. After that period, they’re given US$2,500 to set up a business or obtain further job training so that they can be self-supporting. Today, there are nine congregations resulting from their efforts. Last year, they baptised 73 people. We have also helped with the purchase of land and the erection of church buildings in several places. 

Remember the vocational school we first set up in Bor? The Jonglei Christian Vocational Boarding School now has capacity for 130 students. It has trained men and women in practical skills. Currently three courses are taught: computers, sewing, and electrical work. 

JCVBS isn’t a Bible school, but Bible is taught. As a result, a good number of the students are baptised during each five-month term. In 2021 there were 99 baptisms at JCVBS. Most of the evangelists became Christians while students there. There’s now also an elementary school with 1,020 students at the main campus in Bor and another 288 in the branch campus at Mongalla Refugee Camp. 

There are also three radio programs weekly from two radio stations. The Gospel is taught in both English and the primary tribal language, Dinka. 

At times, we’ve also had distributions of humanitarian aid. These included food items, mattresses, and goats. Currently, these have been discontinued due to limited funds. Humanitarian aid is now provided through the elementary and vocational schools. Interestingly, the regions where we’re active appear not to have been much affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

South Sudan isn’t a comfortable place to visit. Nor is it totally safe. Nonetheless, is the Gospel needed there? Absolutely. Has this work been blessed with some wonderful workers who are there daily with boots on the ground? Oh yes! 

God is smiling on Bor in Jonglei State, South Sudan.

Dennis Cady is a longtime missionary who previously lived in Asia. A former elder, he and his wife, Susan, are members of the Burkburnett Church of Christ in Burkburnett, Texas, USA.


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