35 to Life

I once watched a movie where a plague had hit the world with infertility. The movie begins at a stage in time when no child had been born into the world for more than two decades. Havoc-run-amuck set the pace for the depravity of life lived with the knowledge that nothing you did—or did not do—would impact anyone or anything. Everyone knew there was no one watching, following, listening, learning, growing, or being shaped and transformed.  You left no imprint, no foot tracks; your life did not matter.

In stark contrast, one of my three beautiful daughters has just given this world a new child, her second gift of life to our world. The first a girl; the second a boy. The delight I experience while feeling the sibling connection, and participating in their impact throughout a large extended family of connectedness fills me with both great joy and haunting questions. What would our world be like without children, new life?

Similarly, can you imagine a world where children were taught—through the experience of many generations—that their expected life span was 35? If all life expected to expire by the time it reached 35 throughout the world, how would that alter the course of all our relatedness and rational? Would 30 year—or even 15 year—mortgages still work? Would 401ks and stock market accounts become obsolete? If you knew you would die by 35, would 12 years of education make sense, much less university and doctoral programs? Would “Til death do us part” have a resounding impact on a 22 year old?

As “Sci-fi” or foreign as “that world” may sound to our Western ears, “that world” actually does exists right here, right now, for millions of people in Sudan and South Sudan.

Today, I am writing you about a young girl who I’ll call “Laura”. This is not her real name; I do not wish to do anything that might cause her to feel any more shame than already presses down upon her night and day.

Laura has been a faithful student in one of our three orphanage/schools for many years. She is bright, faithful, talented and full of life. Her teachers tell me she is the shining star of her class. She is from one of our orphanages that does not yet have its own high school so last year we scholarshiped her to another high school, as she—against all odds—finished 8th grade, the first woman in her lineage to be literate. While there—full of life, dreams of a future, and hope for tomorrow—she fell in love. Her culture tells her it is her duty to reproduce by the time she menstruates. That was not her concern; she held on for something more—something like whispers of the hope of Hebrews…Faith is the substance of things hoped for…

Still, far away from home, and with the mindset of a 35-year-life-expectancy, something of need to ensure she left a footprint behind kicked in, and Laura is now full of new life—fathered by a fellow student of this far-away high school. He is of her tribe and is accepting full responsibility and love for both Laura and child. However, Laura is full of shame that she broke her chastity and disappointed her leaders. Both teachers and even the head of our orphanage which sent her to this school have visited Laura to encourage her and intercede on her behalf. Thus far, she will not return to school.

I am proud that in our country, we will not stand for female oppression, domination, and shame, as this indictment in Chicago states against two doctors performing genital mutilation on seven-year-old girls. In a rare and beautiful stance against female judgmentalism even in Sudan, this ministry takes the stance that male and female are equal partners in both love and sorrow. The young man who is the father of Laura’s unborn child is sitting out of school for as long as Laura is. Laura feels too much shame to come to class, obviously pregnant. However, we have assured her of the love of 1Corinthians 13; love never judges or ends. Once her baby is born, we will help with the child and she can resume classes.

The majority of our nearly 2,000 orphans have sponsors. Somehow, Laura has never been chosen. We need to change that TODAY. More than ever, this brilliant young women with a whole life ahead of her, does not HAVE to die at 35, nor in labor. Together, we will be her family, writing her letters of encouragement and ensuring a safe and healthy childbirth. Laura’s new baby will certainly leave a track on Laura’s life, but even more importantly, I want our message to be to Laura that HER life matters and need not end young and tragically.

I am not posting Laura’s name and photo on the internet, but if you’re willing to be Laura’s family and let her know she is loved and not alone in this time, please respond directly to this email and we’ll send you more details on Laura privately.

We have also received a new set of twins who we rescued from slavery after both their parents died in the war. The twins’ father was killed in combat in the Nuba war. Their mother tried her best to farm enough to keep them alive, but it was very difficult alone and with all the bombing. They were slowly starving to death. Then in 2015 a bomb hit her house; she went “insane”, and died soon after. The twins were taken into slavery by a distant relative to keep his goats.

They were left alone in the bush for months at a time to move the goats for grazing. They lived naked and only off of what food and water they could find, grazing with the goats. They are in poor health and nutrition, but we know—in time—and with support we can fix that through the love and care they are receiving at OFC

All they had was each other—until today, I hope they find YOU!  Please go to our child sponsorship page to meet Angel and Honor.

Love your sister along the journey,

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