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Monday, May 2, 2016

Reaching out to Africa

Monday, August 20, 2012

Peter Omot wants to make a difference in the world. Pictured on the left, Peter at one of his trips back to Africa where he distributed Bibles. The Bibles were accepted as a great blessing to all who received them.
When Peter Omot was a young man living in Africa, his home was in the midst of a war.

At the age of 19, he fled Gambella, Ethiopia and found safety at a refuge camp in Kenya.

In 1992, the following year, he had the "privilege" to come to the United States where he made homes in Texas, South Dakota, Minneapolis and for the past two years, Storm Lake.

He feels it is his responsibility to share his own good fortune with those still struggling in Africa and so he has made trips back there to visit with those still living in refugee camps.

He is also serving as a bridge between other Africans making Storm Lake their home and their family and friends still in Africa, sharing messages back and forth, assuring that each individual is safe where he or she is living.

"We are all one," he stressed.

"I could stay here and do nothing," he said, "but I do believe I am meant to make a difference in the life of someone else."

Sharing ministry is also important to Omot.

During his last two trips (August 2011 and March 2012) he visited the Anuak refuge camp in Kenya and South Sudan where he distributed Bibles and fellowship. "There I realized the difference between the American church and the church in Afrcan refugee camos," he said. "The American church is equipped with resources for spitiual growth and self-sustaining ministry. However, the church in the African refugee camp lacks resources for spiritual growth and does not have self-sustaining ministry. In the refugee camps there is a great thrist and ambition to know and learn about the Word. Unfortuanatley there are limited tools to learn. The refugee church in Africa relies on the West for resources. My vision is to equip a reliable and self-sustining church that can stand in independence."

He shared that the refugees are always happy to see him.

"When I go back there, I see that their lives are not getting better."

Omot said he has done a great deal of deep thinking on how to make life better for the displaced Africans.

"Having lived in the U.S. for more than a decade, I realize that America is a country that disposes of many useful commodities," he said. "Whether in the business, medical, farming, education or government sectors, Americans always leave behind used products as they purchase a better and more cost-efficient version. Every year, tools that could change the Anuak community are left to rust behind an American garage. Here in the U.S., businesses are replacing large sets of computers, fax machines, photo copiers and essential equipment that can make a huge difference in African churches."

He went on to point out that farmers discard many resources that have lost value in the American economy.

"As I drive around I see old tractors parked inside barns that could be used to establish a self-sustaining income for an African family. This could generate a means to support, sponsor and train many leaders for the kingdom of God."

He added, "America is a land already blessed. We have to go to other nations; we have things to give to the world."

Omot's goal is to form teams of people who can collect America's used items that could be used to make a difference in the lives of the African refugee camp community. He hopes to provide leadership training and technical support.

"Some people might might disagree with my proposal thinking that people in developing nations are incapable of managing technical equipment. But I know all people can be trained. I have witnessed many missionaries who have made a difference in African lives through such training."

He is proud to be both American and African and believes the proposal is possible.

"We have enough resources to equip and train a new generation of self-supporting churches in Africa."

Omot pointed out that training community members how to make bricks and to do carpentry, they may have the means to invest in their community and inturn, help the church.

"I invite you to join me as a team," Omot shares. "First, look for those materials that might be useful to the African refugee church. Later we must raise up funds for tool shipment and travel to provide training."

The list of priority resources include used tractors, portable drilling rigs, used computers, used scanners, photo copy machines, Bibles and church leadership training materials.

He added that there is an American embassy in South Sudan which would help in bringing teams to the the African country.

Omot knows how it feels to have mentors in his life, beginning when he was a very young boy and he was educated by a man who took time to share his knowledge with the African youth. Omot remembers there were no educational materials to use; writing out math problems in the dirt with a stick was how he learned. And then all of the mentors and friends he has met in America that have opened doors for him.

"That knowledge carries me today. The only way to make a difference is to show someone. That's my vision: I want to make a difference in the lives of others. I can't save everyone but if I can save one person, I am making a difference. If I can do that, I will be comforted; I will find rest. It is my way to give back."

Omot lives in Storm Lake with his wife, Abella and son Achol. It took many years for his wife and son to be cleared to come to the U.S.; they have another son, Ojem, still in Africa whom is hoping to be able to someday live in the U.S. as well.

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