The First Missionaries to Serve Missions from the Southern Sudan
Sister Ann Andrus
On March 2013, Juba Branch, South Sudan marked a first of its own. Two young men Jervase Makur Dhoul Ajok and Mark (Mike) Unwar Ukuch received their calls to serve missions. They are the first to serve from the Juba Branch, Uganda Kampala Mission, and perhaps the first to serve holding passports from this young country.
Due to displacements caused by 22 years of civil war in Sudan, both young men became members of the Church while living in foreign countries.
In 2000, Jervase (right in photo) fled his home of Ananatak in Southern Sudan during a night attack on the village at the age of 13. His flight into the bush began a journey of almost 1,000 miles and severe hardships, including lack of water, food, and shelter as he travelled with people he did not know toward the Kenyan border.
He stayed seven years in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, Nairobi and came in contact with young missionaries on the streets.
Jervase visited the Church for the first time in October, 2007 and was warmly received by Bishop Justus Suchi and members of the Kasarani Ward, Nairobi. He was baptized seven months later, having received a testimony of the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon as ancient scripture, and an increase in his knowledge of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Desiring to serve a mission, but having only refugee status in Kenya and no passport, Jervase boarded a bus to return to his homeland, now the sovereign nation of South Sudan. He has been able to communicate with his mother recently, after twelve years of separation, and he has received his passport. This young man, who has faced many challenges in his short life, looks forward to his service as a full-time missionary in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission. Jervase will report to the Ghana Missionary Training Center on Friday, June 28, 2013.
Mark (Mike) Unwar Ukuch (left in photo) was fatherless from birth due to the death of his father during the Sudanese civil war. His uncle supported Mike’s family, providing for Mike’s education at a boarding school in Uganda. Mike’s cousin Alum joined the Church in 2009 and began to share with him what she had learned. After meeting with several sets of missionaries from the Uganda Kampala Mission over a period of one year, Mike was baptized on December 19, 2010.
After completing his secondary education in Uganda, Mike returned to Juba, South Sudan and began attending the Juba Branch, where he was ordained an Elder in preparation for his call as a missionary. Mike bears witness of the great influence full-time missionaries have in sharing the gospel message and looks forward to the day when missionaries will serve in his country of South Sudan. For now, Mike will be one of the first two missionaries from the Juba Branch; he will proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Ghana Accra Mission. Mark will report to the Ghana Missionary Training Center on Friday, June 14, 2013.
With this status, comes the opportunity for many “firsts” for the new nation.