Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

David, and Where is Yambio, South Sudan?

A year ago, we had an extraordinary experience. We often entertain delegates visiting from other countries, and this time we had three African journalists, and, strictly by chance, they all turned out to be Christian. Most of our gatherings are strictly ecumenical, but these were joyful, praying Christians, and the evening took a turn we never anticipated.

 

“So how did you find Jesus?” one woman asked David, from the newest country in the world, South Sudan. Inside, I was shocked, and when I am shocked, my tendency is to laugh, I don’t know why, it is just the way I am wired. Every culture is so different. In the South, people might ask that of one another, particularly if you worship in a fundamental sect, but our sect is more formal, and to inquire into another’s spiritual life can be perceived as intrusive.

 

David, however, was not taken aback. “It’s a long story,” he said, and we all settled into comfortable chairs to listen better. It was Christmas, the decorations were up, the lights all twinkling and we had eaten. A good time for a story.

It was a long story. It started with a little boy in a happy family, who one day was told to run! Run! Run into the forest and hide! The riders were coming! His family grabbed a very few things and ran.

 

His family ran for years. His family ran into forests, across borders, into dry arid spaces. Sometimes some of the children would get separated from their parents for a while, but they would keep asking, and eventually meet up again, only to face separation again. Their whole lives were running, from the Janjaween, from border police, from robbers.

 

At one point, he and a brother stayed in a church, and a priest taught them about Jesus. Simple stories, simple songs, and he drew letters and numbers in the dirt – that was his early schooling. It was a haven of peace for him.

 

Many years later, the family was reunited in their village in the new country of South Sudan. Miraculously, every member of his family survived, indeed, most of his village survived. They had maintained lines of communication through all those years of running and separation, and were so thankful. Most of all, now, they were thankful – they had a church in their village. David had learned to love learning, and had completed his education and had found a wonderful job.

 

“I don’t know the book like you do,” he told us, “I only know it like a little child sitting at the feet of that priest, but I am learning.”

 

I can’t help but think that David knows more than he thinks. David holds his belief in Jesus like a child, simple and direct. His testimony is powerful and unforgettable. I am in awe, even a year later, of his story and testimony.

 

Today the church prays for the diocese of Yambio, in the South Sudan:

 

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December 17, 2013 - Posted by | Advent, Adventure, Africa, Biography, Character, Circle of Life and Death, Civility, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Geography / Maps, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Sudan

2 Comments »

  1. What a profoundly amazing and touching story! I am glad you had the chance to share it-from him to us.

    Comment by momcatwa | December 17, 2013 | Reply

    • I think of him all the time, and how faith came to him, and how deeply he believes – not in spite of, but because of YEARS of living under horrendous circumstances. If you could meet him, you would know why I am so impressed. There is no bitterness, nothing but love and a compassionate heart.

      Comment by intlxpatr | December 17, 2013 | Reply


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