When James Abong attended a Church planting training in rural Uganda, his country, South Sudan, was experiencing peace. For 10 weeks, 17 people from 5 countries lived in a community, studied together, and grew into a small ekklesia.

But James’s path was different than the others; God had a unique plan for James and his wife. His path would take him places where I dare say none of the other trainees could have thrived.

After James had been trained in church planting, spiritual disciplines, & Bible storytelling, he returned to his home in South Sudan. Then, just a couple of months later, war broke out, some of the heaviest fighting near his home.

We lost track of James and had no way of contacting him or knowing if he was okay. We just continued to pray for him and his wife, knowing that God had a purpose for their lives. 

Two years later, missionaries Curt and Dede Iles were investigating the Refugee settlements in Uganda to assess the Baptist response; they ran into a young man named James.

As they listened to his story, they heard about how God had not only protected them during the war, but he had prepared them for the future, even before anyone knew that war was coming.

Once James arrived at the camps, he met thousands of lost people who were unsure of their future. He began to share with them about Jesus and saw a great response. In just two years James planted six churches in the refugee settlements.

The refugee life is unstable. They don’t know if they will have food. They don’t know if their daily provisions will come. Many of them have only a temporary home. And they certainly don’t know if they will ever be able to return to their home in South Sudan.

But guys like James Abong have a purpose that overshadows any unsettled feelings that he might have. God purposefully placed him in the camps. And he has decided to build the Kingdom of God in a tough place because he understood his calling.

James is one of the few refugees who has now returned to South Sudan, and he is hard at work ministering to those in need. I’m proud to call him a friend. 

I want to be like James, focused on the task God has given me, even if (or especially when) the circumstances are difficult or seemingly impossible. I want my purpose to overshadow my life situation.

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