Egyptian missionaries serve vulnerable children in South Sudan
As a result of 50 years of on-and-off war, South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world, and children are particularly vulnerable. Many orphans live on the streets or in forests. Even children with families are often neglected or impoverished.
Ten years ago, God called Andrawes* and Lily* from their corporate jobs in Egypt to become stand-in parents to 48 girls at the House of Hope in Juba, South Sudan. The girls were once at risk of being trafficked in the ravages of a war-torn nation. Now, they are rescued daughters.
In this series of blog posts, we will share the story of how God called Andrawes and Lily to bring hope and love to the nation of South Sudan.
Their call to missions came in the form of a simple question while they were still childhood friends:
“Who is going to be a missionary? Who is going to be a servant of the Lord?” Brother Philip*, Founder of OneWay’s Streams of Living Water, asked. He was spending time with friends in Egypt, asking their children the same thing he did every visit.
As children in Egypt, friends Andrawes and Lily were always excited to hear Brother Philip’s stories of his ministry in Africa. They also waited eagerly for stories, pictures and visitors from Sudan, where Andrawes’ father traveled often.
“My heart was longing to serve the children in South Sudan in any way I could,” Andrawes recalls.
As adults, Andrawes and Lily finally got to see Sudan for themselves, spending three weeks doing short-term ministry in the capital city, Khartoum.
Their hearts were captivated.
“We decided that we would not stop there,” Andrawes says. One day, they would travel even farther south.
Three years later, in 2011, South Sudan was on the point of secession from the north, following decades of civil war. The day before the nation declared independence, newlyweds Andrawes and Lily reached Juba, witnessing the opening day of Streams of Living Water’s House of Hope, a home for vulnerable and orphaned girls.
At midnight, the people would celebrate independence with fireworks and dancing, but this new nation, filled with refugees and the scars of war, was in desperate need of aid.
By the end of 2012 they decided that they would return to Juba for good, intending to serve at a boy’s orphanage. Lily quit her job as a Financial Advisor, Andrawes left his position with a tourist company, and they prepared for the move with their 1-year-old son.
Tickets in hand, they learned that the boys’ orphanage had closed.
“The only thing we knew was that we didn’t want to go back to our jobs,” Lily says. Friends encouraged them to return to the safety of their careers, but Andrawes could not help but think of Luke 9:62: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
So they prayed, “God, whatever happens, we trust that You called us. We will be waiting for You.”
God called to their minds once again the House of Hope, where one staff member was caring for 14 girls at the time. From there came the idea: “Why don’t we go to Juba and help care for those girls?” By January of 2013, their family was living at the House of Hope.
Though their desire was to stay in South Sudan indefinitely, there was one key complication: There was no school in South Sudan that their son could attend. If they couldn’t find anything, they would leave when their son reached school age.
God sent His answer in the Juba airport. It was there that a woman stopped Lily and asked, “Are you a missionary?”
Stunned, Lily asked how she guessed, and the woman replied, “Because it is not common to see foreigners who bring children to our country unless they are missionaries.” She then asked what Lily’s plan was for her children’s education, saying, “Please come to my office tomorrow. I know a group of missionaries who are going to open a school in a few months for missionary kids.” Lily, Andrawes and their son would stay in South Sudan.
Until, that is, their situation became precarious.
In the next part of the story, read about how God saved the House of Hope from an armed gang, forcing Andrawes and Lily’s family out of South Sudan. Read part two: "From life giving to life-endangering."
*Name changed for security