While strolling…

While strolling through Sudan north Africa one day…

South Darfur, Sudan: 2003-2007…hundreds of thousands dead, more than two million displaced! Our no-name village was an airplane flight and a helicopter flight from Khartoum, the capital of The Sudan and possible safety. The village was patrolled by a few boys probably in their upper teens with what looked like automatic weapons. They leisurely brandished their weapons as they walked from one end of the one-street village of sand to the other. This walk probably required two to three minutes or maybe five minutes if the resident braying donkeys were at work. Other citizens meandered aimlessly from here to there and back to here.

The people were more than friendly except when attacking a truck that arrived about mid-day with humanitarian aid. Within seconds everyone was racing to the truck. They were dependent on the aid and neither teenage soldiers with automatic weapons nor braying donkeys were going to stop them. It was a sight that was “sad” and “glad” at the same time!

We were a small seven-person medical team providing some medical supplies but mainly training. Our goal was to meet as many physical needs as possible and to be alert to opportunities to share the truth about the great medical provider, the great physician…Jesus. I doubt if anyone in this village had ever heard of Jesus! That is the main reason we were there!

Early afternoon the truck was gone. Life was back to the only normal the citizens or the patrolling teenagers or the braying donkeys knew. The sun was unbearably hot. The skies were clear with no hint of rain. Our tasks for the morning were completed. It seemed like a good opportunity to exit our “safe” bamboo compound for a short walk to enjoy the people and “try to find beauty” to understand the unnecessary death and destruction that was the life of South Darfur. As I exited the compound gate I revisited vivid memories of the not so beautiful areas. From the United Nations helicopter (land travel was prohibited for safety reasons) we saw village after village totally destroyed by fire. We could only imagine the pain and agony the residents suffered. Most were tortured, raped, and killed by a renegade group called Janjaweed, perhaps best described as Sudan’s Ethnic Cleansing Militia.

I did not consider the danger of my afternoon stroll. Danger is accepted as part of the lifestyle when we go where people have never heard the good news of Jesus. And my heart was too broken for the people who wanted nothing more than to live in peace and not fear the the Janjaweed. Clouds of dust on the horizon was a sure sign the Janjaweed were coming. They always brought danger, destruction, and death.

After a short walk, I met a group of what I hoped would be new friends. I wondered if my idea of an afternoon stroll was a good one. In limited English the questions began. Who you? What country? What you do? I am not sure how but apparently my Texas English answers satisfied them. Their last question is still etched in my memory, never to be forgotten. When you come help our people? I cannot tell you how many times and in how many countries I have been asked this question. I pointed to the heavens and tried to communicate “as soon as the one true God, the creator of heavens and earth” makes it possible. It was not the story of Jesus but was designed to put questions in their minds and trust the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do. The door was open, but would I ever enter the homes and hearts of my new friends?

So great are the needs!

So few are the resources!

So little is the time!