By Cynthia Laird, Certified Lay Servant Senatobia District
Photo right: Ellen Cummings poses with children in South Sudan.
On Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, Ellen Wicker Cummings shared her mission experiences in South Sudan with Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Ellen is a native of Pontotoc, Mississippi. She now resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She served as the director of adult discipleship and missions at Baylake United Methodist Church until her retirement in 2012. Her work in missions continues through service to various missions in South Sudan and Uganda.
South Sudan has been a country for four years following decades of civil war in Sudan in which millions died. For the past two years, thousands of people have died due to the civil war in South Sudan. Yet in the midst of all the struggle and turmoil, God is there. Ellen shared about the love and faith she has witnessed in the lives of the Christians of South Sudan.
She told about the Sunday that Abuna Richard (Abuna is the Juba Arabic word for pastor) baptized 32 children in Terekeka who had made professions of faith. She also told about her visitation in the African Bush. After lunch one Sunday, Abuna Richard invited her to join him while he made home visits but cautioned her that they would be traveling along a path, and crossing through water that was waist deep. She could not resist such a unique opportunity!
Ellen learned that the path was barely discernable from the rest of the jungle. As the group waded through the water, she wondered what dangers might be in that water. The others did not seem concerned, so she also stepped out in faith. They were going to visit a lady who lives in such a remote area that there is no road. There is only a path, and it leads through water. The lady had never heard about Jesus. Ellen spoke first, and then Abuna Richard presented the plan of salvation. The lady accepted Jesus as her savior that day -- her first day to learn about Jesus!
As Ellen told us about this home visit, she referenced Romans 10:13-15 "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?" There are people who have never heard the gospel, and who live where there are no roads. There are people who live where you may have to wade through water up to your waist to reach them.
Ellen continues to support education and sustainability in South Sudan. Her calling is to serve through mission trips and other support in South Sudan and Uganda, and to share news of this mission field with others. Please pray that there will be political stability in South Sudan, that the children will be able to get an education, and that more people in South Sudan will have the opportunity to know Jesus.