JUNE 2019: Nation Building
One of the great problems in South Sudan, and across the continent of Africa, is the lack of jobs, schools and infrastructure for wounded soldiers and civilians. On top of this, the country has little to no income for a national medical system to care for its citizens. The war continues to rage because each guerrilla organization believes that their only hope for a steady income, for their families, is to fight and kill. Unless genuine development begins, this will continue—it’s a vicious downward cycle. Our vision is to see the Gospel transform lives. I believe if we can offer people jobs to sustain their families, as God’s Word takes hold, lasting change is achievable.
The chaplain headquarters is in phase one and has provided hundreds of jobs and hope that every member of the community can see. We are building the castle, designed not only for safety sake, but to attract tourists. Every day more people come to see what is happening, and we share the Gospel with each one. The village takes pride in the fact that South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the vice president, Wani Igga, have both come and stayed with us for several days. Thankfully, Nimule is an ideal tourist destination. We have a national wildlife park, picturesque Nile scenery, and acres of subtropical landscape to frame nature’s sunrises and sunsets. We border Uganda and Kenya, which makes us accessible by road, as well as by air.
Typically, when a person can find a job in Nimule, South Sudan, the pay is only three dollars a day. Far Reaching Ministries is now the largest employer in Nimule, employing over 100 construction workers and support staff, and we pay our people much better, which is greatly appreciated. Also, when someone works for us for 10 years, we build them a house, which costs the ministry about $4000 to $5000. It is a simple house, but much better than the mud huts that most live in. With the cost of labor being so affordable, we can do a great amount of good with very little compared to the United States. In Nimule, we built a church that holds over 1000 adults for about $200,000. The same church in the U.S. would have cost millions. To put this into perspective, we are currently building four churches in Russia where the cost of construction is much higher. It will cost about the same amount to build four smaller churches that can only hold 100 people each. I have explained to the community, in Nimule, that what we have built is for the nation and not for us. They are participating in the building process for the future of their children and families. In another 20 years, I will most likely be gone, and what is built will be for future generations. Most seem to catch and understand the vision.
My plan is to help rebuild the city of Nimule, offering homes and public buildings to improve infrastructure and to create jobs. The plan is to build a wall around a portion of the city, for protection against attacks, and then build homes within the wall for disabled soldiers. This will offer a security force to protect the city. Many of these men can still fight, they are just not healthy enough for field operations. Towers will be built, with close attention given to the design so that tourists will want to come and visit and enjoy what has never existed in this nation. I want the wall to be constructed so that families can walk around and enjoy the city.
One of the commanding generals came and met with me and said, “Wes, you really are not American any more. You are much more South Sudanese than you are American. You have brought Europe to South Sudan.”
We are currently training a silent drill team, within the Chaplain Corp, much like in the Marine Corp. Once trained, we will be taking them from village to village, to perform as an example of what is possible with discipline and dedication. We want to give future generations of young boys something to live for—to be a professional soldier and chaplain, rather than a guerrilla. We want them to see that they have the ability to become so much more. People, especially the young, come to the base every day to watch the chaplains train. When they are trained, thousands will come to see each performance, giving us the ability and a voice because of the level of professionalism achieved. This will open many doors of opportunity to give the message of Christ and many will be saved.
This year has been very busy for me. As I write this newsletter, Vicky and I are in New York preparing to fly to South Sudan. We have many meetings with not only our staff in Uganda and South Sudan, but also with generals of the Army. While our schedules are nonstop, we see real hope for changing the lives of many for Christ.
We will be opening a Christian military school. There’s a possibility that this will become a Christian West Point or military academy for officer training. This would give us the opportunity to mold future leaders of the nation in God’s Word. If this door opens, I will definitely walk through it. It would be unprecedented, in the history of Christianity, to be given such an opportunity to bring real change to a foreign military.
It is interesting, what an affect that the ministry is having. We are not only recognized by the nation and the government, but also by one of the rebel groups. They started writing about our ministry, telling tall tales. They are trying everything they can to bring division within the nation, so peace will not come. They are afraid of the effect the ministry has had, bringing unity and bringing people to the table for talks to bring an end to fighting in South Sudan. The government has asked to use our facility, on several occasions, to conduct such talks and we welcome them free of charge. It was even reported by the rebels that we were preparing for large scale operations with the military, which they know is not true, but they are desperate to further disrupt the chance for peace. Reporting the news falsely is not just a U.S. problem, but one that affects many nations. I guess when the enemy begins to talk about you, because of fear, you know you are having an effect on changing lives. Jesus said that we should be careful when all men speak well of you because it means you are probably compromising. May this type of compromise never be found in this ministry.
Far Reaching Ministries