Recently, I began a new journey in my life. Yet, to call it new seems somewhat of a misnomer. It is a journey to South Sudan, the world’s newest country. I am starting a new project in an area I’ve never before seen, under a bishop I’ve never before met. The assignment calls me to look at scriptures in creative ways and introduce congregations to new concepts and methods. However, it seems this journey is more of a continuation than a beginning, as it appears my life has been building up to this time.
In Dec 2002, I graduated from Morgan State University with a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. At that time, I never imagined I’d work on a non-engineering project in an East African nation. Yet, Bishop Enock, the bishop I work under, is also an engineer, turned clergy and community leader. The original energy around my time in South Sudan stemmed from my past experience and graduate education in management. For the past three years, I’ve been in Divinity School studying church history, bible, and theology. All of these experiences have helped prepare me for this present activity where I will be managing a project, teaching bible studies, preaching, and offering pastoral support throughout the Diocese of Rejaf – Episcopal Church of Sudan.
The project, Community Health Education Program, is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Duke University Divinity School, several Episcopal congregations in the US, and a host of friends and well wishers. Dr. Peter Morris and Dr. Ellen Davis, a medical doctor and Hebrew Bible scholar, respectively, direct the project. The goal of the project is to create healthier communities through medical and Christian biblical theological engagement. We are attempting to aid communities in modifying specific behaviors that will decrease the number of illness, and the rate at which illnesses occur. My goal is to assess the current medical needs, while laying a theological and relational foundation that will enable a medical professional to join me shortly to provide basic health lessons. Together, the medical professional and I will teach joint bible and health lessons. The medical information will inform communities of the scientific knowledge surrounding their medical conditions, and equip the communities to make better health choices. The biblical information will be designed to help the communities understand stewardship of their individual bodies and whole communities as a major component of their Christian faith. We are attempting to articulate physical health as something God not only cares about but addresses in the Holy Scriptures. Through the joining of bible and health lessons, we hope that sustainable, positive change is evoked.
My time in South Sudan began on September 1, 2011, and is currently scheduled to last one year. It has taken me some time to organize this blog and write articles for it. I’m creating this blog to allow the many friends, families, churches, and colleagues who have enabled this project through financial contributions and/or moral support to stay abreast of the activities. I’m also hoping that the blog will serve as a witness to God’s actions in South Sudan, and expand the vision of the possibilities of God’s hand on those God calls to serve. The blog will include prose narratives, photographs (possibly video as well), and poetry chronicling the progress of the project and my experiences during my time in South Sudan.
Thank you all for the support you’ve already shown, your prayers, and your love. May God bless and keep you, and may this blog bring glory to God’s name. In the name of Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we pray. Amen.