Pumpkins and PuppiesBy Jon Steury, Regional Director of AfricaJuly-September 2014
My friend and colleague Adhanom Hidug serves with World Gospel Mission in South Sudan. He is from a small country in northeast Africa, but he has been living in Kenya for some time. Adhanom and his wife, Helen, were appointed as WGM’s first international missionaries last year.
In keeping with WGM’s central ministry focus—wholistic transformation—Adhanom’s ministry is wholistic, incorporating Community Health Evangelism, storytelling as a means of communicating the Bible, and relationship building to transform lives in the village where he lives in Aduel, South Sudan.
Missionaries who enter a new culture quickly realize that creativity is an important tool to discover the best way to share Jesus with the people where God has called them. As I read Adhanom’s recent ministry report, I was intrigued by how he had creatively shared Jesus in his village, using a pumpkin and his puppy! Here’s Adhanom:
Pumpkin: Many people here grow pumpkins for their leaves, but not as food. They give different reasons why they don’t want to eat them. Some say, “People will say that we are like hyenas if they know that we eat pumpkin.” Others would say that it is not tasty, or it doesn’t have many benefits, or they just don’t like it. Due to this, there are many pumpkins in the village farms just spoiling. I can get nice pumpkins at a very cheap price or even free of charge. One day I bought a small pumpkin, and as I was walking with it from the market, everybody’s eyes were on me because they believed I was going to eat a pumpkin. People began to speak to me because of the pumpkin. When I realized this, I decided to walk with it all around the market area and in some neighborhoods. Everyone wanted to know what I was going to do with the pumpkin. That opened an opportunity to talk to people. As a result, I was able to talk to more than 50 people about the nutritional values that God put in a pumpkin and how God gives us good gifts. I never thought that a pumpkin would bring me such a golden opportunity to get a “ready-to-talk-and-listen” audience.
Puppy: Yomdit is my puppy! She is named in the Dinka language according to her color. People in the village who don’t even know my name, know her name—even those who haven’t seen her. The pumpkin gave me a one-day opportunity, but Yomdit has given me several opportunities to talk to people easily. People want to know why I care much for a dog, and that gives me a good opportunity to talk to them, starting from the direction of the discussion they raise and taking them to the direction I want. Yomdit has started to learn a few things, and people are surprised to see her following my orders. Now because of her, people don’t even wait until I say, “Kudual,” which means “Hello” in Dinka. This is another way of getting an opportunity to talk to people that I never thought of.
Pray for Adhanom as he shares Jesus with people, using pumpkins, puppies, and other creative ways!
ACT: What ordinary things in front of you could easily open the door to share Jesus with others in your neighborhood? Got a puppy that needs a walk or maybe some cookies that could be shared?