South Sudan: Amid a Civil War, He Plants a Church

by Gordon Skopnik

He grew up in war, born into a family that practiced witchcraft and worshiped evil spirits. Even as a boy, he was not happy about this. One time he opposed his grandmother and destroyed her shrine. Suddenly his eyes were forced shut and started to bleed. Somehow he felt God was with him; he believed that God had a plan for him and God healed his eyes. So he committed himself to God and refused to worship at his grandmother’s shrines.

Life was not easy, and during one of the rebel raids in South Sudan he was captured. He said, “We were locked in a hut. It was set on fire to burn us alive. So we prayed and the fire went out. It was set on fire a second time. So we prayed and again the fire went out. A third time, set on fire again. We felt God was with us and we kicked the door down and fled.”

Some time later he was recruited to fight in the war again, but he fled to Uganda. There he found a personal relationship with Jesus Christt. Again he was found and taken back to South Sudan to fight, but he refused to fight, giving testimony of his newfound life in Jesus Christ. Many times he was confronted with soldiers who wanted him to fight, but God opened the doors for him to be released to witness for Jesus Christ.

In a time of war there are many hardships, but he testifies, “God always prepared my way and opened the door for me to fellowship with other believers, and finally I was introduced and given an opportunity to learn how to plant churches and empower communities through Serving South Sudan.” Along with a team of church planters, he has planted a church in the refugee camp where he is now residing.

He is committed to war, but not in the way that the warlords of South Sudan wanted him to be. He is committed to fighting the spiritual battle and advancing the Kingdom of God through church planting and training other church planters to do the same. Our leaders in South Sudan have planted 18 churches in the past two years, and Sharon and I will be going in November to evaluate and encourage those new church plants.

Gordon Skopnik (Wymark) serves with Avant Ministries. The story is used with his friend’s permission.

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