Children of the Caves

Many years ago, I sat crying in a thicket of lush green grass in the depths of a cavernous valley staring up at the daunting height of the Nuba Mountains, Sudan. I cried because I had prepared myself for every sort of depravity, but instead what I seemed to have fallen into was sheer beauty. Beauty completely surrounded me—I felt it hover over me like the very breath of God exhaling from the lofty mountains. Having spent so many years on the west side of the huge African nation, in Darfur, I had no concept of Sudan other than the vast, sandy flatness of the Sahara. In Nuba, I found a place akin to my familial roots: Ireland. The mountains flowed with such lushness my feet often slipped upon mossy patches of living green as I scrambled my way to their peaks.

It wasn’t until I finally reached the top and collapsed in a cave surrounded by terror-stricken children that I realized the external beauty cloaked the horror within. The entire mountain grew tremulous as Antonov planes bore down upon us, dropping thousands of pounds of shrapnel-filled bombs and threatening to entomb us in the very cave in which we’d found refuge. It was from those early moments that the third Make Way Partners orphanage was born: Our Father’s Cleft, by orphans whose only loving embrace had been by the God-made clefts of those mountains.

Recently, I climbed those mountains once again. This time, finding anything green was hard-wrought labor. It was dry season, and at the tail-end of a long, famine-inducing drought. Through the years, Our Father’s Cleft has swelled to nearly 500 orphans, and ranges from pre-school to high school; still I found those mountains full of waif-like orphans who we do not yet have the capacity to bring under our wing, clad in rags that sported more holes than a lady bug does speckles. While their eyes told haunting stories, their eager mouths spread from one high cheekbone to another in near-blinding smiles—simply happy to greet visitors, and to be witnessed. As I spoke with them, it seemed as though they felt so invisible to the world, at times, they doubted their own existence.

We asked them to lead us to their “hideout”. Eagerly, and much more limberly than I could with a newly broken collar bone, they scrambled up and around ledges, across felled tree branches, and deep inside a holler or crevasse between a nettle of rocks. As we hiked, they showed us where some of the children had written love letters to encourage one another along the journey. These love letters had been carved by tiny hands with flint rock, chiseled with scraps of shrapnel that had killed some of their friends, or scrawled from remnants of chalk from their once-upon-a-time school—back before the war had begun.  All government schools had long ago either been bombed, burned, or closed due to lack of support.

Rummaging through their lives by reading the walls, my eyes filled with tears when I found a love letter signed by one of our own: Jacob Bashir—etched on the side of one of the mountains where he used to hide.  Jacob is one of the orphans that your unending love and support has saved, and continues to feed, clothe, and educate. He had offered his prayer by carving a message for himself and to all the other homeless orphans back when no school existed, “Never give up on education”. His prayer resounded from His Father’s Cleft to your ears, and now he has climbed his way up to his first year of high school. Still, Jacob is one of our many orphans who has no sponsor—no one to help him personally along his journey, writing intimate letters of encouragement in response to the one he wrote so long ago, praying for him by name each day, and providing his financial support…to bear witness to his life.    

You can help us save not only Jacob, but to make room for many other orphans through our complete care Child Sponsorship ministry. If you are willing to stand in that cleft—to be family—for Jacob or one of his orphan friends, please click here and join the rocks as they praise God and protect His children!

Recently, the single invading dictator al-Bashir, who runs all the Nuba Mountain genocide, hired the prominent law and lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs at $40,000 per month to pressure congress to relieve the sanctions we have against Sudan. Even though the International Criminal Court (ICC) has indictments against al-Bashir for genocide and other crimes against humanity, he travels the world freely and often. Just last month South Africa broke their commitment to turn him over to the ICC when he came to their country. The ICC held hearings, but in the end, did nothing to hold South Africa or al-Bashir accountable. The mass murder and destruction continues day-by-day.

Not all of us can literally sit in the caves with these innocent children but we can ALL take intentional action today to end the genocide and protect the children. Please read Enough Project’s report here for more details on congressional action you can encourage and sign up to include an orphan in your heart today by providing a place for him or her in one of our orphanages.

Click here to sponsor an orphan of war and genocide.

With love, your sister along the journey,

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