|In a very short time frame (six days) we were able to have visiting Pastor Nathaniel Bol from the newly formed South Sudan Evangelical Lutheran Church in Africa speak to us on Sunday, July 12, about God�s work in the midst of the civil war that is happening in South Sudan. After the coffee hour and voters meeting that followed the service, I drove Pastor Bol to Jonesboro where he is staying with Pastor Russell Shewmaker and his wife Nancy until he returns in mid- August to South Sudan. On the way we discussed many things including how he and the South Sudan Evangelical Lutheran Church came to be founded. He pointed out that many church bodies like the Anglican/Episcopal church in which he was a pastor was becoming more like the world and not staying true to God�s Word. He expressed strongly how the church should be shaping the world and not the world shaping the church. That is one of the reasons the Lord led him and the other pastors in South Sudan to seek out the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod by Google on the internet and led them to a connection with Paul Kon, one of the Lost Boys from the Sudan, who was living in Jonesboro, Arkansas and eventually became a member of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Jonesboro.
Pastor Nathaniel�s comments about the role of the church in the world reminded me of a passage from the Apostle Paul to the church at Rome. Paul, after showing that that both Jews and Gentiles alike are sinful and disobedient and thus in need of God�s mercy, then goes on with this encouragement, �Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God�s mercy, to offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God � which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God�s will is � His good, pleasing and perfect will.� (Romans 12:1-2 NIV) We are not to be conformed to the fallen world but to be transformed by the Holy Spirit as He continues to renew us from the inside out in Jesus Christ through God�s Word and the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. The Greek word for transformed is metamorphosis. It is the word that biologists use for the process that takes place when a caterpillar changes into a butterfly, from a creature that crawls to one that is able to fly. What a miraculous change! And that is exactly what happens to us when the Holy Spirit brings us to trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are a new creation in Christ. The old is gone, the new has come!
In the worship service that Sunday we had an insert prepared by Pastor Bol that describes the new church body and on the second page a needs list. Since his visit Pastor Bol worked on that list and put a monetary value behind the items listed. It is more feasible to send money to the South Sudan Evangelical Lutheran Church via Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Jonesboro rather than trying to ship the listed item. It is a complicated process to wire money through Western Union to neighboring countries since South Sudan has very limited resources. We will post the list on the church bulletin board for anyone that would like to continue supporting the needs of this struggling new church especially as they minster in South Sudan and among the refugee camps in the neighboring countries. You may either send money to Pilgrim Lutheran or give money here at Shepherd of the Hills and we will send it on to Jonesboro.
Hark, the Voice of Jesus Crying
3 If you cannot be a watchman,
Standing high on Zion�s wall,
Pointing out the path to heaven,
Off�ring life and peace to all,
With your prayers and with your bounties
You can do what God demands;
You can be like faithful Aaron,
Holding up the prophet�s hands.
Text: Daniel March, 1816�1909, alt. GALILEAN, Tune: Joseph Barnby, 1838�96 8 7 8 7 D, Text and tune: Public domain