I am falling behind in my effort to share stories about what is happening here.
One student came to me recently and said that he is the youth coordinator in his diocese. (“Youth” here means anyone under the age of 45, which is most of the country, it seems. I haven’t met a lot of old Sudanese.) He wanted some tips and advice on how ministry with youth worked in the United States. At some of the services I’ve been to here, I’ve seen more youth in a single Sunday than I have in a year of services in the U.S. I told this student that really we should be taking advice from him about how to minister to youth because they are clearly doing a better job of it. He didn’t believe me when I told him that when I was in college, I was essentially the only person in my 20s who went to my church every Sunday.
It’s the rainy season in Sudan and it poured on Tuesday. The courtyard turned into a pond. I suggested we add goldfish. The unpaved roads become slip-n-slides and people have trouble making it to work.
One student brought up without prompting the controversy that came about earlier this year when Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wasn’t allowed to wear her mitre in England. He had read about it on the Internet in his diocesan office and said that everyone there was really upset that a bishop wasn’t being allowed to wear a mitre. “She’s a bishop! She should be able to wear it!” I was touched by the thought of a priest who lives on less than a dollar a day and works in a diocese that is under attack by the Lord’s Resistance Army reading about a manufactured controversy on a solar-powered Internet connection in the jungle of central Africa. He then proceeded to tell me about – and show me the bullet wounds from – the time he had been kidnapped, escaped from, and shot at by the LRA.
It is amazing how much the students here are hungry to be in relationship with other Christians from around the world. There are a few American dioceses that have companion relationships with Sudanese dioceses but many dioceses here are alone. There are great opportunities here.