The Personal Side of the Mission

by Jeff Ritchie

Joseph and his daughter, Nyachan

Joseph and his daughter, Nyachan

Jacob Gatluak, one of the Sudanese American participants on this Outreach Foundation trip, left South Sudan via Ethiopia for the United States in 1996 with his wife, but not with his daughter who was about 10 at the time. She had been living with relatives in Ethiopia and somehow was not able to join her parents when they immigrated.

Many times they sought to bring her to the States, but until this day they have not succeeded. Further, until this day of May 13, 2016 Jacob and his daughter had not seen each other for 20 years. Today they were reunited. Some of her relatives and friends from church brought the 30 year-old Nyachan to where our Outreach team was staying, and they had their first face to face meeting in two decades.

The tears flowed freely when they first laid eyes on each other. Words indicating the momentousness of this meeting, prayers in English and Nuer, and then plans to have a longer reunion when our team returns from Gambella a week later—this was a new beginning for father and daughter. There is fresh hope that Nyachan will get to the U.S. and join her parents and five siblings she has never met.

This story illustrates what so many South Sudanese have experienced through decades of civil war and unrest. The trauma that so many people have undergone makes our mission efforts in South Sudan and in the surrounding countries so heart-wrenching.

Tomorrow we head to Gambella, where over 200,000 refugees from the current civil war are still residing. They hope for the implementation of peace but know that it will still be months, even a year, before they can start life over again in their homes. In the meantime, we will spend the next five days listening to them and prayerfully discerning how we can help them in their current situation and after their return. 

Jeff Ritchie
Associate Director for Mission