Humans of South Sudan

Humans of South Sudan

The people you’ll meet in this story have survived the conflict in South Sudan. Now in refugee camps, they’re still in danger from disease and starvation. And there are thousands more like them.

Susan

A woman in a wheelchair outside a shack made out of straw.
Susan's joy is amazing. She lives an isolated life, yet her faith is unwavering.

After driving through shrubbery, we abandon the car and walk for almost an hour. We fight through the grass and branches as we head further away from civilisation. I am about a mile from the border with South Sudan. Surely no-one can be living here.

But I am amazed to find a hut, providing barely any protection from the rain. And inside, a solitary woman. Susan.

Susan has leprosy and her hands are beginning to curl in on themselves. I ask her how she ended up here. “I was chased by the government and the rebels,” she says. “I am not able to walk, so I started crawling. I never made it to the camps.”

Because Susan hasn’t made it to an official settlement to register as a refugee, she’s not eligible for UN food relief. You’ve been providing her with emergency food rations – support that has most likely saved her life.

Click here to watch South Sudan's Conflict Survivors

South Sudan's Conflict Survivors DVD featuring a group of boys high-fiving

You’ve also helped train the pastoral activists who found Susan. “I don’t get many visitors here. The team share the word of God with me, and they pray with me. That is how I get my strength.” As I walk away, I know we’re leaving her lonely, but never alone.

Joice

Family: Mother of four children, including five-month-old twins, Sarah and Sharon.

Location: Bidi Bidi, the world’s largest refugee camp with a quarter of a million South Sudanese refugees.

Condition: Suffered from edema and pre-eclampsia while pregnant with her twins. Untreated, these conditions can be fatal.

How you helped: Joice’s conditions were detected because you paid for a highly accurate blood pressure monitor to be given to a volunteer health worker in Joice’s community. The volunteer found out Joice had dangerously high blood pressure. He kept monitoring her throughout her pregnancy, and at eight months she was given a C-section which was vital for her survival.

What Joice says: “Without this device, I was going to face death. I am giving you thanks. I am now okay, and my children are okay.”

A South Sudanese mother hugs her twins in Uganda

Nancy

Fourteen-year-old Nancy hops up to us at impressive speed, her foot scuffing along ground. Her right foot is twisted and she can’t walk on it. The uneven ground is hard to move across. It’s clear Nancy can’t move far from the temporary home she is living in.

Because of her disability, Nancy couldn’t go to school. “Children would tease me because I’m not able to move,” Nancy says. You’ve helped BMS partner Hope Health Action transport wheelchairs to people like Nancy, and now Nancy can get to school.

“I am very happy with my wheelchair. It can take me anywhere,” says Nancy. “I want to be a nurse.” It’s the most confidently she’s spoken.

A South Sudanese girl in a blue wheel chair in front of a tree in Uganda.

We want the UK Church to be at the forefront of raising awareness of the conflict in South Sudan. You can help. Our 2019 appeal resource South Sudan’s Conflict Survivors is now available to share with friends and to run at your church’s harvest service this year. You can also download this story to share with others or subscribe to Engage to read more about the humans behind the South Sudan crisis. Together we can make sure these incredible conflict survivors are not forgotten.

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Original article featured in Issue 44 of Engage, the BMS World Mission Magazine. Edited for the website by Melanie Webb.

Epic cycling and powerful emotions: the impact of Life’s First Cry

Epic cycling, powerful emotions and teddy bears’ picnics:

the impact of Life’s First Cry

It’s inspired tears in some and action in others – a simple video about BMS World Mission work with mums is having a powerful effect.

A humbling number of churches have already given to Life’s First Cry, and we know more and more of you are being inspired every day by the powerful work BMS is doing to save the lives of mothers and babies in Afghanistan. Thanks to you, we have trained local women to give safe birthing training in Afghanistan’s remote mountains. Thanks to you, families don’t have to fear for the lives of their children any more.

Some churches have used Life’s First Cry at harvest time. Others have shown the video on a mission Sunday or taken a special appeal for BMS work. Again and again, UK Christians are getting in touch to tell us how powerful and moving they have found the video. We believe that is because your gifts are making God’s work happen in Afghanistan. And we wanted to share some of the amazing things you’ve said and done in support of that work, in Afghanistan and around the world, inspired by Life’s First Cry.

Taban, a mother from Afghanistan and her daughter Chehrah
Thanks to your support, Taban can focus on giving her daughter, Chehrah, a future that wouldn’t have been possible before.

After hearing about Life’s First Cry, Stanley Road Baptist Church in Morecambe decided it was important to share its message of hope for mums and babies with their children. They had the brilliant idea of running a teddy bears’ picnic in their midweek toddler group, Toddler Time, as well as a Life’s First Cry service. We think this is a great way to engage young children with mission and the church. Thank you so much, Stanley Road!

Thank you, also, Ian!

Ian Richardson on his bike outside a leisure centre
Ian Richardson took on the highways and byways of the Scottish Borders to raise money for BMS work.

Ian Richardson is a bit of a hero in the BMS office. He watched Life’s First Cry and decided he needed to do something to help. His passion for cycling gave him an idea: why not do a sponsored cycle ride? And ride he did! Ian cycled a whopping 1,016 miles across the country and raised a massive £2,273.75! Thank you so much, Ian, for supporting life-transforming BMS work!

Selly Park Baptist Church decided to get creative to support Life’s First Cry. Their Sunday School created a display that was, by all reports, beautiful, about the work BMS is doing, including information about Afghanistan and pictures of the work going on there. The display was featured in their Life’s First Cry service, where BMS guest speaker and former worker in Afghanistan Elizabeth Lee was also speaking. To top off their service, they held a harvest lunch of soup, bread and cake.

Thank you so much for the creative ways you’re supporting Life’s First Cry!

These are just a few stories of the way in which churches around the UK are using Life’s First Cry. But we wanted to find out what people outside a worship service would think. We showed Life’s First Cry to mums and dads to see what they thought of the crucial work BMS is doing in Afghanistan. The video below captures some of their reactions.

Mums and Dads react to Life's First Cry

Losing babies and mothers dying in childbirth are not easy subjects to think about. We know they bring up hard emotions and painful memories for many people. We’ve heard such encouraging stories about the sensitive way speakers and churches have dealt with it. One BMS speaker, Wilma, told us:

``A number of women expressed how they were deeply moved by the video. An elderly lady had lost a baby over 80 years ago and was able to relate to the sorrow felt by the Afghan parents.``

Thank you, Wilma, for sharing so sensitively. We hope that the support that you have helped to inspire will mean that far fewer women, in a country with less medical provision than our own, will have to experience the pain that so many families around the world face because of lack of knowledge and support.

Thanks to your help, mothers in Afghanistan are getting that support. And we are planning to help more so that they don’t have to be afraid for their children’s lives. So that children don’t have to worry they will lose their mothers.

Every church service, every fundraising activity, every share on Facebook and special collection makes a difference, and we want to say a huge thank you to the UK Baptist Family for the love and support you’ve shown for Life’s First Cry and BMS work among those who need it most.

If you haven’t watched it yet, here’s the video again:

If you’ve been inspired by these stories and haven’t yet held a Life’s First Cry service, it’s not too late! Go to our Life’s First Cry resource page to find everything you’ll need to make sure this important story is told.

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We’d love to be able to personally thank every church that supports us, so even if your church isn’t mentioned here, please know that your supporting is always incredibly important to us. Get in touch by email at mail@bmsworldmission.org or on Facebook to tell us how you have used Life’s First Cry and whether you’d recommend it to other churches to show in the coming year.