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To the ends of the earth

First Baptist sending team to South Sudan

Nestled in a remote corner of South Sudan, the Kapoeta region is home to numerous ethnic tribes and peopåle groups. One such group is the Toposa people, a small tribe largely unaffected by modern cultures.

This week, members of First Baptist Church of Minden will have the opportunity to share stories of faith with this largely unreached people group.

Because of connections with a missionary couple in the area, six First Baptist members will be able to stay in a compound in Kapoeta and visit the nearby group of Toposa.

“This particular team, we’ll get to go to a remote tribe of probably 800 to 1000 people,” said Steve Gilley, associate pastor of seniors and missions at First Baptist and leader of the trip. “We’ll get to share stories with them. These people are illiterate, so storytelling is their means of passing on information from one generation or one tribe to the next. We’ll be telling them Bible stories and trying to make a connection there to reach them for the gospel.”

Shannon and Carrie Lewis have been ministering to dozens of tribes in the Kapoeta region for ten years, Gilley said. There are so many people groups that they bring in teams of short-term missionaries to help reach new areas.

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Gilley said. “When the Lewises got there, there was only one believer they could find.

Now there’s about four thousand. They have about nine or ten churches they’ve established. They train the believers there and disciple them to start their own church. So it’s just helpful for them to have teams come in and help them reach a group, and then they’ll train people within that group to develop a church there.”

The group will depart Wednesday and return on March 17.

“It is so remote,” Gilley said. “We have to fly into Nairobi, Kenya, then we fly into another little town in Sudan, and then we have to take a third flight just to get close to them, and then another hour-long drive to reach the Toposa. The International Mission Board says this is one of the most remote areas they send missionaries to.”

In addition to sharing Bible stories through interpreters, the group will also be giving the Toposa solar-powered audio Bibles.

“It plays the Bible in a similar language to theirs, just not quite the same,” Gilley said. “We’ll be carrying about 180 of those. These people will sit there and listen to these over and over and over because they have no other means to listen to anything like that.”

The group will consist of Gilley, Jake Chapman, Cole Tucker, Travis Tucker, Wayne Booth, and Richard Methvin. Gilley said people can pray for their safety and that they are able to have some influence on the Toposa people.

“The tribe we’re going to has hardly been touched at all,” he said. “So we’ll be sharing these Bible stories with people who have never heard them before, ever. So that’s exciting for us.”