James Baak

In 2013, James left his position with ALARM as South Sudan Country Director to start his own new ministry, SMARD (Solidarity Ministries Africa for Reconciliation and Development). SMARD exists to empower the youth, women and children of South Sudan by building their confidence and capacity through education to achieve sustainable peace and holistic development for the transformation of South Sudanese Society.

Interview with James Baak
Sunday, September 17, 2017
Mike Vogt, Country Champion
Mike Vogt, Country Champion. Email Mike at mike@solidarityministriesafrica for more information on James Baak, one of our partners in South Sudan.

Biography

James Baak and his family
James Baak and his family

I was born in 1972 and grew up in Lietnhom village as a cattle keeper in the Dinka traditional set up. At the age of 13 years, I left to Ethiopia Refugee Camp as the Arab militants increased their attack on our village. It was in the Refugee Camp that I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. This decision changed the course of my life forever.

Initially my main mission in the Refugee Camp was to acquire a gun and go back to Sudan and fight to defend my village and country from Arab militants. However, one evening as I was praying, I saw a vision of a man wearing white clothes who came to me and gave me a Bible and said “fight with this.” As I pondered this, the issue of acquiring a gun vanished in my heart and then I realized that God was calling me to be His messenger but I did not know how to read and write. Therefore at the age of 17 years, I started my schooling at the Refugee Camp in Ethiopia.

Ten years later, my church, the Episcopal Church of Sudan recognized and confirmed this call and I was ordained as a pastor. I went back to South Sudan and planted a church and pioneered other churches in surrounding areas. Later, I went for theological training at St. Paul University in Nairobi, Kenya graduating with a diploma in Theology. In 2001, I married a beautiful young South Sudanese lady named Martha Adut and God has blessed us with two children: Daniel (8 years) and Grace (5 years).

I was appointed as ALARM Regional Co-ordinator for Bhar El Ghazal region based in Lietnhom in 2004 to 2008. In 2008, ALARM grant me study leave and Fellowship Bible Church Brent wood generously provide a full Scholarship for my further studies at Daystar University- Kenya ,pursuing a 4 years Bachelor of Arts in Community Development and Peace Studies that I completed in July 2011 and waiting to graduate in June 2012.

On July 9th 2011 (a day when South Sudan get its independence from the North), ALARM appointed me as the Country Director for South Sudan and Sudan based in Juba, the current capital of South Sudan. God through ALARM and Fellowship have sharpen my Ministry skills and I am grateful to them and the opportunity to serve my people in a free Country of South Sudan.

Contact

History with ALARM

2000: Fellowship was introduced to the war torn area of Lietnhom, South Sudan when we were invited by Good Shepherd Community Church in Boring, Oregon, and World Relief to help this remote village. Our aim was first, to provide disaster relief to get the community back on their feet, and second, to help the community develop infrastructure through a combination of pastor training to strengthen the church and teacher training to establish the education system. Hundreds of pastors have since received basic ministry training, and to this day, the primary school, grades 1 through 8 is called, “The Linda School.”

2001-2003: Fellowship continued to grow and invest in Lietnhom by taking yearly teams to train pastors and schoolteachers. During this time FBC partnered with World Relief and the local churches of the area, each year finding the village continuing to grow and thrive.

2004: Fellowship began a partnership with Celestin Musekura and his ministry ALARM, which stands for African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries. To learn more about ALARM go to alarm-inc.org. Along with this partnership came the relationship with James Baak, a lost boy who became a pastor and returned to Lietnhom to evangelize it. James and his team oversee all of ALARM’s interests in the Bahr el Ghazal region of South Sudan.

Also in 2004 FBC also added to its annual team a women’s ministry component. This was the first ever of its kind in this traditionally male dominated society. Women are the work force in much of rural Africa providing them with no time or opportunity for education. They are bought and sold for cows and hold no rights or status in the community. However, biblical principles brought to bear bring change. We are seeing change! There is much to do in this area of the world to restore God’s order for women. And, they are hungry for it—ready for vision and training and enabling to rise to their potential.

Fellowship’s partnership with ALARM brought us the opportunity to build a facility and begin seminary level bible training in Yei, South Sudan. This three year program is called CLIS, Christian Leadership Institute of Sudan, and pastors will walk up to 30 days to receive this valued education. FBC’s ongoing involvement of resourcing and equipping these pastors over this three year period gave way to the honor of graduating the first class from this school in December of 2006!

2006: A Children’s Ministry was launched with great success. In addition to Bible/leadership training, and teacher training, FBC also partners with ALARM in their Women’s Economic Empowerment Program (W.E.E.P.) This is designed to provide women access to and training on equipment such as grinding mills, oil presses and sewing machines. Needy women and widows are learning basic vocational skills to start their own businesses providing much needed income and relief from the intense labor of daily chores. This program also instructs women how to utilize such opportunities for evangelism and discipleship training.

2007: We partnered with ALARM for the construction and staffing of both Primary and Secondary schools (which now provides education to this region, grades 1 through 12,) three wells, and the Reconciliation Guest House in ALARM’s compound. Two teams from Fellowship provided Pastor Training, Women’s Training, Children’s Ministry, and Teacher Training in Lietnhom, and a third team will go to provide CLIS training in Yei.

2008: Fellowship sent three teams to Sudan. Team One did trauma recovery training and marriage training in Yei. Team Two did primary and secondary school training in Lietnhom. Team Three did pastor, women’s and children’s ministry training in Lietnhom. Our resolve is strong to continue to come alongside our brothers and sisters in Sudan to help equip them, so they can be even more effective ministers of the gospel and ambassadors for Christ.

2009: Two teams returned to South Sudan. The Lietnhom team provided pastor training, women’s leadership training and children’s ministry. They brought brightly colored t-shirts bearing the word – NGOTH, which is Hope in Dinka. On the final day of the conference, over 200 vibrantly dressed people were worshipping, dancing, and encouraging one another in glorious celebration! The team sent to Yei taught at a marriage workshop and provided much needed school teacher training.

2010: Civil unrest made it too dangerous to send our usual fall teams. In July, however, our Global Pastor was able to return to Yei, South Sudan, to teach at the Christian Leadership Institute of Sudan in Yei.

2011: Fellowship had the privilege of serving in South Sudan in multiple ways. Our school teacher training team experienced their most productive trip yet. The 40 teachers (30 elementary and 10 secondary) in attendance had been hand-picked from the district’s 11 schools, with a strategic goal of training teachers who could train other teachers in their school. Another team travelled to South Sudan’s capital city, Juba, to lead a marriage discipleship workshop. The training was eye opening and challenging to all the participants. Another team travelled to Lietnhom, provided pastor training, women’s leadership training and ministered to many children as well. On another trip our Global Pastor was able to travel to Yei and teach at the.

2012: Outreach Pastor - Brian Petak - and author and psychiatrist - Curt Thompson - travelled to Yei, South Sudan where they taught at the Christian Leadership Institute of South Sudan (CLISS).

2013: A team taught at a pastor's conference in Lietnhom, with a strong emphasis on trauma counseling, women's ministry and children's ministry.

Expenditures

Each year, we work with our global partners to refine how our involvement might support their essential ministry efforts and projects, and learn about their kingdom-advancement and ministry expansion dreams—if God would provide the means to make them happen.

Last year, God provided resources for our partners' efforts with over $700,000 from our Global Christmas giving. Our plenty, providing for their needs. We encourage you to pray and ask for the Lord’s leading in how your generosity can have an impact all around the world, all to the glory of God!

Expenditure List
Deep Water Well Achiek Clinic

Lietnhom focus: already drilled and using.

$17,500
Linda Primary School construction

Lietnhom focus: Finish the second block at LPS (may increase due to supply chain issues).

$6,000
Construction Overage Achiek Clinic

Lietnhom focus: due to supply chain issues, the cost of construction increased to $75,000.

$15,000
Solar Panels for Achiek Clinic

Lietnhom focus: will install panels after the construction is completed.

$19,000
Women ministry conference/Empower Women

Lietnhom focus: Meet with women weekly on microfinance and then conference once per year.

$18,500
Bible and Community Development Program (PLTI)

Lietnhom focus: JB wants local church to contribute financially to reduce cost.

$16,000
Bible and Community Dev New Training Modules

Juba focus: Compensation for consultants who will develop curricular and training manuals for the Youth Leadership and Peacebuilding Training.

$6,000
Stipends for Juba staff

These funds will contribute to SMARD staff salaries to support their families as they serve the communities.

$45,630
Stipends for Lietnhom staff

Lietnhom focus: will go into effect when male and female working on the ground are hired; hopefully March.

$14,400
James Baak Masters degree

Support James Baak Education as capacity building for SMARD Ministry.

$5,000
James Baak travel costs

Lietnhom focus: Provides funds for James to travel from Juba to Lietnhom several times a year.

$4,000
Mission Trip Costs

Lietnhom focus: Funds for charter flights.

$25,000
Stipends Headmasters for Linda and Hope

Lietnhom focus: Monthly stipends to headmasters at Hope Secondary School and Linda Primary School.

$4,800
Hope Secondary Supplies

Lietnhom focus: funds to purchase solar panels for the school electricity so that studies can continue in cloudy conditions; funds will purchase books as well.

$5,000
SMARD office operating expenses
$7,200