Stepping Out In Faith
Hearing God’s call led WC graduate to work with Sudan refugees in Uganda.
When he arrived at the Beeson Divinity School this August, Ian Davison (WC ’19) and his roommate J.T. Reeves found the living conditions in Birmingham, Ala., were less than optimal. With temperatures spiking between 84 and 97 degrees, the two found themselves in an apartment without any air conditioning and sleeping on a mattress on the floor because they didn’t have any beds.
The funny thing was that the apartment was an upgrade from where the two were living from May 23 to June 28. Davison and Reeves spent part of their summer serving as missionaries in South Sudan and Northern Uganda.
“Right now, we’re uncomfortable in paradise,” Davison said of Birmingham. “A month in South Sudan and northern Uganda has made Alabama much easier.
“It has been a step of faith for me to be here. (Outside of Reeves) I didn’t know a soul here and committed to going here without ever stepping on the campus. The last time I was in Alabama was for space camp in middle school. I have everything I need, but I am trusting the Lord to provide.”
Stepping Out In Faith
For Davison, this year has been like the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where Jones steps onto an invisible bridge over a deep canyon. He doesn’t know if the bridge will be there or where it leads, but he trusts whatever is out there will support him.
Davison was part of a group that spent four and a half weeks near the Bidibidi Refugee Settlement in the northwestern part of Uganda, equipping Sudanese refugees with the knowledge of sharing the Gospel and planting churches.
According to the Guardian, over five million people, approximately half of the population of Sudan, were displaced by the country’s ongoing civil war that started in 2017. Over 270,000 refugees (roughly the population of Toledo, Ohio) have relocated to the Bidibidi Refugee Settlement.
“We were there during an interesting time,” Davison said. “The United Nations has fed these people for the last seven years. While we were there, the UN said, ‘You need to start growing crops or go home. We can’t keep feeding you any longer.’”
Yet, during this crisis, more and more Sudanese were turning to God for answers. Davison said it wasn’t uncommon for church services to run upwards of four hours as parishioners “drown out their sorrows with praise for the Lord.”
“You hear stories of how their trust and faith in the Lord was growing, and people were experiencing miracles,” Davison said. “We talked with one lady during her last meal, and God multiplied her food overnight.
“These people have experienced supernatural healing as the church continues to sing God’s praises.”
Davison spent his days working with groups of 60 to 100 college students visiting a local seminary, teaching, and visiting the people in the camp.
A chance encounter with one of the refugees left an imprint on Davison’s heart. Julius confessed to being an alcoholic and told Davison his wife and kids had left him.
“I could smell alcohol on his breath,” Davison said. “I shared the gospel with him, and he wanted to get down on his knees to receive Christ.
“I wasn’t sure if the message would stick with him because he appeared drunk. Evidently, it did. The next day, we were in the same village, and Julius appeared and followed our group around. He wanted to find me because he had more questions.
“When people ask me about the trip, that is the story I tell. I don’t know what happened to him afterward, but that was special to see the next day he seemed at least temporarily free from alcoholism.”
A Special Calling
Davison’s heart to do missionary work began to beat between his sophomore and junior years of high school when he was on a trip to Israel with Bible teachers Cory Baugher (WC ’96) and Dr. Joe Price.
“I was in a town called Magdala up near the Galilee region, and one of the teachers was lecturing,” Davison said. “Honestly, I wasn’t paying attention at all. The best way I can describe it is in that moment, the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me. The Lord was telling me to study and teach His word. I remember talking that through with Mr. Baugher and Dr. Price and praying with them in the next week.
“(My senior year of high school) everyone started to ask me, ‘Where are you going to college? What are you doing?’ I told them, ‘I’m not sure, but I want to study the Bible.’ That moment in Israel drove a desire to study and teach God’s word into me, and I haven’t looked back since then.”