David & Sarah Kennedy

February 2024 | Edited by Steve Moberg

David and Sarah Kennedy are missionaries Gashland supports in their ministry in the French-speaking areas of Africa. This includes seven of the ten most illiterate countries, some with only 20% of the population able to read, so the Kennedys work as part of the Jesus Film Project to spread the gospel. David provided the following observations about their efforts in South Sudan.

Conflict to Peace: A Long Journey

     Since gaining independence in 2011, the country of South Sudan has experienced civil war and criminal atrocities. Between 2013 and 2018, over 400,000 people were killed in a conflict that displaced thousands, ravaged a brand-new nation and gained national attention when ethnic cleansing was uncovered in 2017. The conflict, the hatred and the atrocities drove the Christian church in the country into turmoil. Many had seen first-hand violence committed by others proclaiming to be Christians and struggled to forgive and begin to heal.

     In 2022, Jesus Film Project was approached by members of the church in South Sudan asking us to consider helping them to put seven of our films into local languages. We eagerly agreed. The translation began in late 2022 and was completed by early 2023. Recordings began in September through the end of the year.

     When we accepted this project, we knew that we did not have the personnel in place to make this happen. Through prayer and many different conversations, God brought a unique opportunity to help this ravaged nation. In 2023, we sent two indigenous Mexican nationals to South Sudan to record three of the languages. This was their first international trip and they were nervous but excited. By the end of the recording, they requested a chance to return. God had brought the Body of Christ from three countries and two continents together to reach the peoples of a country that had been mainly forgotten around the world due to new conflicts and atrocities in other countries.

      As the films were being recorded and the actors and participants were being interviewed, forgiveness emerged as the major need in the country for the church. How can you forgive those that murdered your family, friends and community members? How do you greet hatred with love? What does loving your enemies mean in the Kingdom of God? Many prayed and hoped that through the films and the Bible that many would experience peace in their hearts that would bring an overflow of love and forgiveness to others.

     The church in South Sudan recognized what we all need to remember; reconciliation can only come from an outpouring from God. Jesus is the true reconciler and only his message of forgiveness can bring true forgiveness.

     Sarah and I continue to work diligently in the Lord to give each person an opportunity to hear the message of Jesus and experience true love and forgiveness. Our work is such a small contribution in God’s Kingdom but he is faithful to take all of our little offerings and multiply them for his glory. It is a privilege to see how he weaves a beautiful tapestry with each tiny thread of our obedience.

  • Pray for the peoples in South Sudan, that they would experience God’s love and mercy and begin to heal the wounds in the country.
  • Pray that the church would become the beacon of peace and hope for a country short on both.