After a long wait to meet with the Acting Governor of Nuba Mountains, our small team sat before him anxious to hear the governor’s concerns, current actions, and hope for the future of his people. He sat before us with an air of dignity and open grace; still we could feel the weight of his grief as if a great boulder of the mountains of Nuba had fallen upon us.
After we thanked him for taking time from his very intense responsibilities to meet with us, Will, a reporter from Taiwan, promised to be concise with his questions. In fact, he only had four. As soon as Will’s articles and television interviews are published, we will send you direct links, including much footage from our orphans, staff, refugee camps, and the community.
As we left the governor’s office, we entered a large waiting room, where many others hoped to voice their problems. Eyeing the bright orange sling binding my right arm and shoulder, a wrinkled old man rose from his seat and blocked my movement. Looking me dead in the eyes, he said, “What is wrong with your arm?”
I explained I had fallen in Uganda and suffered a mild fracture in my collar bone. I pulled back enough of the wrap to reveal a violent purple swell running across my fractured bone and shoulder.
With strength and swiftness I never could have expected from this seeming prune of a man, he seized both my shoulders, squeezing them tightly and spitting twice straight into my face. Stunned, I couldn’t move.
As if it appeared from thin air, he next grabbed a plastic cup of water, from which he began dousing me from head to toe. Then he did a jig leaping at least three feet backwards from my body, as if I were on fire and he needed to be out of the reach of my flaming limbs. He then took the remaining water in his cup and flicked sprinkles of it upon my face. He ended his thousands-year ceremony with a simply bow of his head.
Although I felt I had ascended somewhere far away, I am certain only a few seconds of earthly time had passed. I regained the presence of mind to look into his eyes again, searching. They were inexplicably bright and beautiful. A smile of love and kindness imped across his lips, turning the wrinkles of his face into ruts of grace.
My mind contorted to figure out if I had just been accosted by a local witch doctor or tended by an ancient man of wisdom with the healing powers of Jesus who spat, sprinkled and mudded the sick to make them whole. Nonetheless, my heart felt safe and my spirit felt a deep sense of peace.
I stood there stupidly for some suspended moments in time, until finally words tumbled from my mouth, “Shukran. Salom malek.” (Thank you; peace be with you.)
The pain in my collar bone and shoulder has been unbearable at moments, driving my mind to places it ought not to go—especially driving the bouncing, banging 10 hours of bomb-riddled roads from Yida refugee camp to Nuba. While I cannot say the “healing” offered me immediately took all the pain away, it reminds me of how the Bible tells us that even Jesus sometimes had to offer his medicine multiple times before the whole miracle came—such as the blind man who at first only saw bleary images of people looking like trees. It was Jesus’ second act of healing that the man saw clearly.
The whole experience is a great reminder to me that while our first, second, and even repeated attempts may fail or not produce our expected hopes, let us take courage to carry on with the journey. Let us not give way to fear, failure, or even sin. Let us remember we are all in the Enormous Hands of a God Who suffers not beside us, but rather, literally WITH us—and together, we are made whole. Together, we heal one another through the thick forest of fear, failure, sin, and suffering of all names.