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Phil and Linda Byler, missionaries in Sudan

August 2009

Byler’s Newsletter

August  2009

Our summer months, here in Sudan, had its Ziklag days. 1 Sam 30 tells the Ziklag story.  “David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him, each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters.” (taken captive from Ziklag by the Amalekites). David was in a real dilemma. What is a leader to do in times like this?

In June, our TIMO-Didinga had an emergency overnight hike and airplane evacuation from their mountain homes because their lives were threatened for allegedly having “stolen the rain” Yes, the East Africa drought had reached the Didinga Mountains and the local animistic beliefs needed someone to blame. The local rainmakers, witch doctors, and other leaders took the heat off themselves by pointing to the foreign visitors.

Our greatest disappointment came 4 weeks later when after intense prayer, many visits back to the TIMO communities, much negotiations with the community, and seeming good movement toward the team returning, the decision was made by the team leader to cancel the team. It felt like a great defeat. I, like David was greatly distressed. What is a leader to do?

“But David found strength in the Lord his God.” 1 Sam 30:6b

Somehow David, in ways left only to our imagination, channeled his distress into a personal strength-giving encounter with his God. And if you read the rest of the story, he led his men on to great victory, routed the enemy, and regained all that was stolen.

Our Sudan story has not YET routed the spiritual forces from the Didinga hills, but, like David, I was able in my distress to find strength in the Lord my God. In answer to prayers, including from you our supporters, the peace of Jesus replaced the turmoil in my heart. And so we continue to believe that the seeds that were planted in those mountains will sprout and bear fruit under the nurture of life-giving JESUS!

Our part in those busy weeks included a trip to TIMO headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, to meet with the team and TIMO leadership, two trips into the Didinga hills, many many phone calls and emails,  much much prayer, and a final trip to the team’s debrief outside of Nairobi. Then I was left with 11 “homeless” missionaries to assist in reassignment. Jesus has been wonderfully faithful to supply all of our needs for this flurry of unplanned activity.

Meanwhile, back at the compound, we held our South Sudan AIM team retreat. Every member participated in sharing how s/he finds strength in the Lord. With the TIMO team unable to attend, we had only 18 adults enriching our time.

We’ll be leaving our Wed night prayer group and coming to the U.S for a 3 week vacation in Sept. Our focus will be on family and GRANDCHILDREN. However an open house is scheduled in Williamsport Sunday Sept 20. Check with Agape Church 570-326-5924 for details.

When you encounter a Ziklag… don’t proceed until you have found strength in the LORD YOUR GOD.

Philip and Linda Byler,

pbyler@aimint.net

With AIM in South Sudan.