15 Months with the Nuer People

by Jared Pierce

My wife and kids and I spent most of the past 15 months ministering to the Nuer people in South Sudan and Ethiopia. As I reflect on the past 15 months with the Nuer people it stirs up so many things in me.

I will always remember…

  • the first day we arrived in Nasir, South Sudan to live among the Nuer people
  • the day last December when we heard that the war had started between the Nuer and Dinka tribes in South Sudan
  • my first day in Kampala, Uganda for scheduled rest after three months in Nasir
  • when I stepped off a bus in Ethiopia and had an unlikely reunion with our guard from Nasir, who we thought we’d lost touch with forever after the fighting broke out  
  • the look of pain on our friend Nybol’s face as we drove away a few weeks ago, likely for the last time

These events and many more have reshaped who I am.  The impact of this time cannot really be overstated.  I don’t know that any of the perspectives that I came to Africa with are the same now.

Seeing the Nuer as they keep their cattle and live each day in subsistence has allowed me to see where my culture has made parts of my life okay just because everyone around me finds them okay.  

Hearing how different my South Sudanese friends’ hopes and dreams are has forced me to drill down to the most important parts of life and learn experientially which obstacles are the real obstacles. What God has given me through this last year far outweighs the frustration and pain that we have faced.

I am leaving the Nuer with friendships that may not be continued on this side of heaven, but also with a memory of people to really pray for.

I am leaving them with far less passion to see my life “mean something,” but with far greater desire to be ever nearer to Jesus and to bring Him glory.

I am leaving them with far less confidence in my own abilities, but with far more confidence that God will use my gifts for His kingdom.

I am leaving without illusions that I am somehow morally better than I was, but with a new awareness of how much the Father loves me even in the midst of my weaknesses and struggles.                                                                         

How could I not be thankful?

Thankful to God for all he is doing and thankful for the privilege of walking through trials with a people that are so different culturally but so alike in the way we hope. Thankful that even though it is much messier than I would have ever pictured I know the Lord is at work.

I am forever changed and I have the Nuer and our Lord to thank. May it all be to His glory.