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Chuck Jordan/Manpiny life history

Message of gratefulness at the Memorial of: Charles Elvin Jordan (Manpiny Chotrial): 1917-2007

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me"

Charles Elvin “Chuck” Jordan was born Sept. 27, 1917, in Indianola, III. He studied agriculture at Illinois University and Texas Agriculture and Military, and also spent some time in seminary. His wife Mary Alice (Manjini) who worked as a nurse and also home economist used to teach sewing, nutrition, and child care and carried out minor surgical operations. Manpiny met Mary Alice Criswell while working for the census Bureau in Washington D.C.; they were married May 15, 1941, and enjoyed nearly 65 years of marriage. After several years of farming in Illinois and Pennsylvania, the couple moved to Sudan, Africa, where Mr. Jordan worked 14 years teaching agriculture and Bible classes to the Nuer people. Political circumstances forced them to move to Ethiopia, where they continued their work with Nuer for 16 more years until the communist revolution. He had participated in Bible translation in Thok Naath (Nuer Language) in Nairobi, Kenya and Pennsylvania, USA. 

They then retired to Elizabethton, Tenn., where they resided for 23 years before moving to Rochester in 2000. In Rochester, they lived at Shorewood Senior Center. He (90) passed away on December 03, 2007 due to sudden cardiac death.

In retirement, Mr. Jordan devoted much of his time to Church work and donated more than 50 percent of his annual income to Christian missions and humanitarian aid. He also had an adventurous spirit and loved to tell stories about hunting big game and catching big fish. Survivors include a daughter, Jean (David) Byer of Rochester, MN; two sons, Jack (Cheryl) of Elizabethton, TN, and Dave (Fran) of Nan, Thailand; 13 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife (88), two sisters, and a great-granddaughter. He donated his body to Mayo clinic for Anatomical purposes so others may live. Mayo clinic is one of the known clinics around the world. Memorials are preferred to Mission Aviation Fellowship, Adura clinic, or Covenant World Missions.

The whole community of the Nuer and the people of Adura in particular benefited from the legendary achievements and performances of Charles Elvin Jordan and his wife Mary Alice Jordan. We sincerely appreciated and grateful for what they have done to our community and our lives as families and individuals. Those of us who grew up in Adura or Thiajak remember the Jordan Family as missionaries who came to Ethiopia from Sudan around 1961. Some of us were too young to have specific details about them, and most of us were not even born to know about it. What we all remember and know is that Charles Elvin Jordan and his wife, Mary Alice Jordan had founded the Christian Mission in Adura where they established the church and preached the Gospel about our Lord Jesus Christ to many people in the area. The Jordan family had been peaceful, honest, humble, willing, and overall committed to do the will of God. Consequently, their mission and message have appealed to all people who have had a chance to listen to them. All of us as believers trust the fact that what God has made or desired cannot be destroyed or taken away by any human being. A few of us if any understand of why the Jordans had crossed the border from Akobo in Sudan in 1961 instead of 1964 when the Sudanese government expelled all the Missionaries from the country. Most of the missionaries to Sudan and to the Nuer land in particular were still operating inside the country at the time until 1964. Charles Jordan and his wife Mary Alice had used their skills, knowledge, experience, and overall the guidance of Our Lord Christ to established their home among the Nuer people. The Nuer are best known for welcoming peaceful strangers, and thus they accepted and integrated the couple as part of their community in Adura/Thiajak. They named Charles Jordan as “Manpiny”. They also respectfully call him names such as Guan-jini or Guan-Jaak, which literally mean father of Jeannie and Jack. The Nuer use names of children to call any elderly person. Because Manpiny had some cattle they also nicknamed him Chotrial after the color of one of his bulls. Mary Jordan, his wife also had received the name of Man-Jini, which literally means mother of Jeannie. The people of Adura also know their Children Jeannie, Jack, and David along with other missionary guests who had visited and/or stayed in the area. The Jordan family established their house, cattle barns, and garden as independent household in the community.

The Jordans have established the church to preach and spread the Gospel to the people. The church also became the center of learning the Nuer language for both adults and youth in order to read and understand the Bible. Both Mapiny and Man-Jini were actively involved in helping the Nuer women and men to learn the Gospel in their own language. Mrs. Jordan as professional nurse also had the responsibility of treating the patients and teaching medical skills to the local people to help in providing medical services. The Jordans also built the medical clinic to provide the necessary medical care and services in the area. The clinic became the center of attraction to patients in the whole area and far places such as Akobo and Nasir. When the elementary school started in Adura in 1966 it also attracted people, especially the young people who wanted to learn. The church served temporarily as the learning center until the establishment of school buildings in around 1968. Many people whose lives and activities were threatened or disrupted by persecutions of the Sudanese government fled to borders areas in Ethiopia and settle in places such as Adura, Itang, Pilual, etc. such exodus increased human resources by providing pastors or trained church members, and teachers who helped in preaching the Gospel and teaching school children. Thus Adura became a diversified community which accommodated people of different origin and different places including non-Nuer such as Dinka. The diversity and increase of the people in the area also facilitated rapid conversion of many different people to Christianity. When the Sudanese authorities expelled the missionaries they blamed them for the rebellion of the Southern people and instability in the Sudan. The problem in Sudan has its own causes which go back in the past relationships between people of south and north and in the policies of the colonization in the country. The political discontent of the Southern people is a multifaceted conflict, which has nothing to do with the missionaries who were struggling to fulfill their duty of preaching the Bible to the people. The Sudanese problem includes racism, cultural clash, religious differences and overall marginalization of the non-Arab citizens in Sudan.

The western influence in forms of English language and Christianity has nothing to do with it. The northern Sudanese Arabs benefited a lot from Anglo-Egyptian colonization of Sudan politically, economically, and educationally. The southern rebellion, which broke out in August 1953 in the Town of Torit, was a result of such discontent because the people of the South felt betrayed and cheated when the British decided to leave the country in unity without fulfilling the economic development it had promised for the neglected region of the South. The authorities in Khartoum always targeted Christianity and missionary schools in the south as the cause of southern discontent and mutiny. The fact is that South Sudan always had remained separate from the north without foreign interventions. Until this day the north does not recognize the spread of Christianity in Sudan and its records displays the total number of Christians in Sudan as only 5% of the total population. At the same time it presents the total number of Muslims as over 70%. The traditional believers remain to be 25% of the population in the South. These figures have been documented since 1960s and have not changed until today. Christianity has spread more in northern Sudan than before. There are now different Christian churches built in the capital Khartoum. The office of the Sudan Council of Churches established in Khartoum coordinates and facilitates services and activities of different Christian churches in Sudan. The Nile Theological Seminary is a higher institution which trains pastors and church preachers is another big church establishment and improvement in Christianity in Sudan which the Sudanese government authorities do not want to recognize. These new developments and improvement in Christianity are proof that what God desires cannot be obstructed by anybody. The colonialist government asked the missionaries to civilize the people of the south by preaching the Holy Bible them. The hidden logic behind such arrangement was that the British did not have any economic interest in the South, in which it did not want to spend money. Its aim of colonizing Sudan was to control the Nile water and establish Gezira Cotton project as an alternative to cotton projects threatened by political instability in Egypt. Egypt colonized Sudan with Britain and was paying for the whole budget of the Condominium Anglo-Egyptian government because it aimed of annexing Sudan to form the Nile Valley State. It also had interest in perpetuating slave trade which was banned years before the invasion of the Sudan in 1898. The missionaries invisibly struggled to preach the Good News which was their main goal without any adequate financial support. They unsuccessfully tried to convince the colonialist to include the southern part in the development. The northern elites especially the religious leaders of the Marghani and the rebellious group of Answar exploited and benefited the services which the colonialist government provided in order to undermine the influence of Egyptians in Sudan.

The military dictatorship of Ibrahim Abboud seized power in a bloodless military coup in 1958. He ousting a civilian government of Mohammad Khalil who took over from the first Sudanese Prime Minister Ismail Al Azhari. The government of Azhari took over from the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium rule on January 1, 1956, when the country claimed its independence. The Condominium Anglo-Egyptian rule colonized Sudan in January 1898 by defeating the Mahdist revolutionary Islamic regime led by Ahmed Mohammad Abdel Raman who claimed himself as the “Mahdi”. The Mahdist revolution defeated the Turko-Egyptian colonialist regime in 1885 when it captured the capital, Khartoum. The Turko-Egyptian rule colonized Sudan in 1821, with goal of acquiring slaves, Ivory, and gold. Abboud’s government blamed the Christian Missionaries for the rebellion in the South and it officially expelled them in 1964. General Ibrahim Abboud imposed radical fanatic reforms by expelling Christian missionaries in 1964, nationalized their schools, imposed Arabic as the language of instruction in schools, and also ordered teaching of Islam in them. The military dictator Field Marshall Jaffar Nimery who declared the Sharia Laws in the whole country in September 1983 imposed similar measures. He also dissolved the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement, which he had signed into law in June in the same year. Similar radical measures were imposed in 1991 when General Omar Mohammad Al Bashir declared Sudan to be an Islamic State, confirming the Sharia Laws of Nimery in the country. All these military dictatorships wanted a coercive Muslimization of all Sudanese by imposing Islam and Arabic through judiciary and schools. These actions were counteracted with more rebellion from the people of the South some of whom flew to neighboring countries to fight the government, acquire western education, and escape persecution in towns and rural areas by security forces.

The brief background to the conflict may seem neutral to the work which Mr. and Mrs. Jordan performed during their mission work. One would ask why individuals like the Jordans would sacrifice their energy, money and time in preaching the Good News to the people of Nuer? What keeps them motivated and committed to such work? How did they succeed and what do the people they were involved with think about them? The answers to such questions are to personal and difficult to be answered by people who are different from the Jordans themselves. However the best answered could be derived by looking at the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. No human being is able to predict his success without the result of his/her work. But there are several driving forces for success which include motivation, commitment, and overall God’s investment in us.

The relentless support of the American missionaries enhanced by the Grace of our Lord Jesus hastened the spread of Christianity both inside and outside Sudan. The Jordans are the successful missionary founders among the Nuer land in general and on the Ethiopian side in particular. They have planted a truthful seed of life which nothing else is able to take away. The commitment in faith which God has invested in the hearts and minds of the Nuer through his messengers, the Jordans has kept the spread of Christianity among the people even when the missionaries including by the Derg government in 1977. The Thirty years they had spent among the Nuer starting in Akobo in 1940s and in Adura until 1977 have highly paid off for the people who will always remember them. The Jordans have transformed the lives of all the people for better. The Christian Churches among the Nuer has flourished both in Sudan and Ethiopia. The Nuer churches in Ethiopia are members of the Synod of the main MekeneYesus Christian Coalition. They have forty-eight trained pastors and a congregation of sixty-eight thousands eight hundred seventy two believers. They also have pastors and congregations serving in churches inside Sudan. Some Nuer who benefited directly and indirectly from Adura mission are successful educated class serving in governments both in Ethiopia and Sudan. There is a good number of people in the United States who also benefited from the services provided by the Jordans during their tireless service in the area. Some have traveled to other countries such as Sudan, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe in pursue of education or live improvement. The medical clinic has saved lives by treating a variety of life threatening diseases such as parasite infections: malaria, worms, dysentery, trachoma as the leading cause of eye infections, cure for fatal wounds such as gunshots, animal and insect bites, and other health problems which require medical attention. It is worth mentioning the contribution by Arlene Schuiteman (Nyabigoa) who use to come from Nasir to give health training (midwife) to local people at Adura with Jordan’s family. Mary Alice (Manjini) taught sewing to local people at the area and among them were Nyayual Puk who was responsible for tailor’s room, Nyakoat Tap, Nyapuk Tang, Nyageng Kuon and others. Manpiny’s cook master Lul Deng and His clinic co-workers were Jock bukjiok, Tongyik Wal, kuey Yiech and the clinic’s keeper Jock Yuel (Guan-Nyawarga). His Garden was taken care by Biel Gatluak and his cattles by Gatkuoth Yut. His bamboo and mango trees were reception for members of SPLA/M especially high military commanders like former SPLA/M Chairman Dr. John Garang De mabior and his former Chief of Staffs and C-in-C William Nyuon Bany.

In conclusion, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan are our legendary heroes and Christian founders who successfully established the church and planted the truth of God among the Southern Sudanese and particularly Southwestern Nuer on the Ethiopian land. They have converted many followers and worked without any reservation to achieve that goal. They have enabled the Nuer people to gain access to education in English, Amharic and Nuer itself. They have served many lives through their medical services which continue to save lives till today. They have exposed the Nuer people to outside world and the great number of the Nuer people in North American, Europe and other places is attributed to them. We will all Miss Charles Jordan and Mary Jordan in person, but we are always attached to them through their spirit, deeds, and guidance. They will remain our heroes for the generations to come because what they have done is eternity. May God Almighty rest their souls in peace until He joins us together at the end of our journeys?

John 10: 14 NIV

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The last pictures for former missionary late Chuck Jordan/Manpiny, and late Mary Alice/Man Jene life in Rochester Minnesota, United States of America,

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Thiajak/Adura 1964-1972

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