I am writing this blog on board a Kenya Airways flight somewhere between Nairobi and Jo’burg. Irene and I are returning home after spending five memorable days with an amazing group of SIM missionaries who are serving in Southern Sudan, the world’s newest country.

The SLC (Spiritual Life Conference) was held at a lovely conference centre amid the tea plantations in the hills about an hour north of Nairobi. The lush beauty of the conference centre was a stark contrast to the hot, dusty, isolated, primitive conditions in which most of the team serve in Southern Sudan. The location of the conference itself was a source of refreshing to missionaries who work in situations where temperatures of 45 degrees are the norm.

Our hearts were particularly challenged by the love and commitment of the single lady missionaries, many of them nurses, who serve the people of that war-ravaged land in remote bush clinics. They support churches, educate children, teach about HIV/AIDS and nutrition, and do a thousand other things—mostly without any electricity! To my mind, they are the true heroes of the faith. I am not worthy to untie their shoes.

Another hero we met was a single guy in his early thirties who hails from Germany. Henric, a qualified farmer, gave up the opportunity to inherit the family farm to become an evangelist in Southern Sudan. After spending days in prayer and fasting, he heads off to the villages with a back-pack and an interpreter to preach the gospel of Jesus. He has been arrested and imprisoned, and has stared death in the face as a result of illness, but still he keeps going with a broad smile, a beaming face, a heart aflame for Christ, leaving hoards of converts in his wake. Meeting him was a spiritual tonic. We asked if he would be willing to come and share with us at RUC sometime in the future and he has agreed to.

Irene and I went to minister to these missionaries but, as you can see, they have ministered to us. Faith is alive and the church is growing in the world’s newest country. But there remains an enormous need. Pray for Southern Sudan!