“It was tough. It was the most desperate of all the trips I’ve been on before.” – Marna (wound care specialist)
“The sickness we saw was beyond anything I’ve ever seen.” – Amy (RN)
These were just some of the reflections I heard after our short-term mission team returned after serving for a week at New Life Ministry (NLM), along the border of Darfur. The team of medical professionals volunteered their time and resources to offer a free medical clinic for the community. Working side-by-side with NLM local clinicians, the team saw about 700 patients in 5 days that came to the clinic from the community. Had there been more time and more help, they could have seen many, many more.
Medical care is not the primary mission or focus of LUV, but in communities where extreme poverty thrives and there are little to no other options available we offer medical care freely to lift up the vulnerable. One of our aims in doing so is to address the web of human trafficking and how extreme poverty creates a perfect trap contributing to the vulnerable being most exploited and most at-risk. We address the medical inequities that those in South Sudan and Sudan face through both short and long term solutions. Together, with our indigenous partners, we deepen the preventative measures available to the vulnerable which are an essential key to breaking the cycle of trafficking and oppression.
Dr Kyle Hudgens, a neurologist from AL and a partner for over ten years, has been serving on short-term medical mission trips for decades and has graciously volunteered to lead the past two short-term teams to NLM.
His reflection hits to the core of the desperation in South Sudan when he shares, “I have never been more aware of the combination of the paradox of life saving power and futility of medicine.”
When asked why he supports Lift Up the Vulnerable, Kyle shared:
“My wife, Kathy, and I have supported orphans for several years under the umbrella of Make Way Partners and now Lift Up the Vulnerable. I was thrilled when I stepped onto the grounds of New Life Ministry orphanage located in the northern part of South Sudan near Darfur. The children were playing soccer and volleyball running and playing like normal kids their ages. I thought to myself, “this is working and totally worth it.” I found the children to be bright and eager as some of them translated for me in the medical clinic.
In the clinic the stark reality of exactly how good they were doing was painfully apparent as the children from the villages outside were undernourished, small for age, and over all much less robust than their counterparts in the orphanage.
I then began to see the tremendous potential of this orphanage and I am sure the others as well. These orphanages are oasis of hope to the surrounding communities. I can see the Gospel of Christ being shared from these epicenters of hope and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus certainly saw to the tangible needs of the communities but then shared the good news of the kingdom of God. What an opportunity LUV has in this sub-Saharan bush land called South Sudan. Just think about the impact of educated Christian young South Sudanese as they take their places in society. This starts one child at a time.”
When asked about his most recent medical trip, Kyle’s response was more somber:
“I thought I was a veteran of short-term missions. I have led or been a part of missions up the Amazon and numerous times in East Africa.
I have actually been to New Life Ministry before in July of 2018. But I was not prepared for the feelings that I experienced this August at NLM during the rainy season. The rainy season fosters mosquitoes which in turn bring Malaria. Scores of children brought in by adults or simply wandered into the compound so ill that many laid on the ground dehydrated. One after another, after another, they kept coming. I would look up at the surreal scene not believing what I was seeing. I know that many of these little ones would have died without the medicine [we brought in with us] and that many would die after we left. This has occurred year after year in the bush of the South Sudan.
The desperation and at the same time the sober acknowledgement of the parents that this is simply the way life is. The villagers outside the compound of NLM look to our once-a-year-clinic for hope of survival during times of infections and famine.
There was also the sobering fact that these people need the hope of God that is found in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. I have never been more aware of the combination of the paradox of life saving power and futility of medicine. The need for the gospel to be shared is all to urgent.
New Life Ministry is an oasis of sorts in this desperate land. The opportunity exists for the love of Christ to be shared tangibly and spiritually but still the needs are great.
The need for adequately trained providers of medicine and providers of spiritual teaching and refreshment. The funds to continue the work, the volunteers to share the story, and the missionaries to go and serve are all needed.
God gives us an opportunity to share in his kingdom’s work. All we have to do is to show up by giving of ourselves and our resources.
In medical school we are taught that to be a good doctor one has to have sensitivity with detachment and in this case I am struggling with both.”
The realities the vulnerable face in Sudan and South Sudan are sobering and extreme. Hope compels us to meet God where God is already at work and invites us to go, to serve, to return, to participate locally, to advocate, to support indigenous movements… to do even greater things than these. It’s our privilege to serve in the hardest places and it’s why LUV shows up in war zones.
But we don’t do it alone.
Here are three ways you can join Dr Kyle and make an impact in South Sudan and Sudan:
1) Give LUV Generously
2) Host a fundraiser event at your home, office, class, or small group. Invite a LUV Representative to share about what is happening in South Sudan and Sudan. These small events provide the opportunity for more to be invited to learn and participate in advancing the mission of LUV to the most vulnerable in our world today.
3) Connect LUV to your church leadership or your church’s mission board to engage with LUV. Invite a LUV Representative to speak to the congregation or a Sunday School group!
We have representatives around the Globe! Dr Kyle, a team of volunteer speakers, and I want to meet you in your communities. Please email me today to schedule your event or start a conversation.
The good doctor wrote it best, “God gives us an opportunity to share in his kingdom’s work. All we have to do is to show up by giving of ourselves and our resources.”
Join us today.
For they will know us by our love.