“A short summation of Genesis could be, “Everything was good, beautiful, in fact; then it wasn’t. The rest of the Story is mankind trying to figure out how to live with the hole he ripped in the universe.”
Don’t you and I stumble upon that Epic Story in some small-stage of our lives nearly each and every day? “Honey, I’m sorry; that’s not really what I meant to say.” “Officer, I apologize, I didn’t pay attention to the speed limit.” “Father, forgive me; I thought I knew what I was doing, but clearly I do not.” “Help!”
Even plunged into unfathomable darkness of cannibalism as this 13-year-old boy experienced, God still has his remnant. His Noahs, Moseses, and Abrahams. These men are not saints. Of the three listed here, their biblically named sins include drunkenness, murder, cowardliness, and an ancient version of wife swapping.
Still, somehow God knew they each loved Him and desired to serve Him. Miraculously, that was enough. Enough for God to use them to change the course of history.
None of us are saints, but in this darkest hour where our love and brokenness seem so insufficient, we few—band of mottled brothers and sisters—have been holding vigil for Romano, Lolik, and Peter—along with their families and all the souls of Hope for South Sudan. Last night, Lolik’s wife and children made their way back to the compound, tattered but alive. Peter still has not been able to speak with his wife, but has heard she is alive. We are seeking her now.
We heard news of dozens of drivers being murdered, trying to get supplies through. So, we have not yet sent our men or supplies. Slowly-by-slowly roads are starting to open. We’ll form or join a convoy soon, and so ask your fervent prayers to continue as we seek wisdom on timing and which “Moses” to lead our trucks. It’s not too late to donate to make the biggest impact on lives now in South Sudan.
The hole that the leaders of South Sudan have ripped in the universe is certainly large and ominous. Yet, there is an Ark of Hope found floating in the singing voices of all our little ones here with Pastor Phillip and Romano. The road of reconstruction will surely be long and harrowing, but together, we will find the way even as God makes it before us.”
I wrote the above blog exactly one year ago. One year ago of prayers, tears, senseless suffering, and empty promises from corrupt leaders—on all sides—for change. Yet, nothing has changed for the people of South Sudan, unless we are to note how much worse the effects of these situations grows, including the worst man-made famine in history. It breaks my heart, as I know it does many of yours, to know that the exact same scenario keeps playing out over and over, life after life, since the inception of this newest nation. The new government continues to unleash the same horrors their former oppressors had used against them: “Mass killings, rape, torture, abductions and forced cannibalism that led to an increase in mental illness in South Sudan, with patients routinely housed in prisons due to an “almost total” absence of mental health care…”
For our children, the difference in a year is hopeful and means consistent love, housing, food, education, psychological, physical and spiritual care despite the chaos around them. This matters. This consistency changes lives. And yet, we long for the days when their world can be more. They are still tortured by what they see through the fence and hear across fields as military targets civilians. We are thankful that the soldiers do NOT target our orphans inside our gates, yet for them to grow healthy and strong they need the soldiers to live in peace. When they can experience a deeper peace because the world around them is not in turmoil. For more than a year, our orphans “safe place” has become both sanctuary and prison as neither children nor staff dare to leave, night or day. They live crammed together, often doubled up in beds.
In the midst of so much darkness, something exciting has also bubbled up for Romano, the first indigenous director of Hope For South Sudan. Romano has been awarded a full-ride scholarship to a university in the UK. We are so deeply thankful for the journey with Romano, and are excited to see how God will use this huge step in his life. As in all our areas of ministry, we are constantly preparing for transitions; we have a second—and third—in command at each location, always in training, always at the ready!
Peter Sarafina has served at HFSS for many years—side-by-side with Romano—and even at the helm of Hope for South Sudan as Romano has needed to travel often. So, he is well prepared and skillfully steps into his new role as indigenous leader of Hope for South Sudan. Please pray for Romano as he studies abroad and seeks God’s new direction even as you do for Peter who remains behind in his new role at the helm of HFSS.
Winston Churchill said, “War is chaos”. It is true. And yet, in the midst of the chaos there is always also powerful transformation going on if only we dare to open our eyes in the darkness. In the midst of the oppressive exploiting of the powerless there is always a remnant that stands in the gap for the most vulnerable. YOU are a part of that very remnant that stands with Peter and Paul—his second-in-command—and the other leaders of Make Way Partners. Thank you for remaining that never-ending source of strength, love, generosity, and hope in what feels like a never-changing situation. We hold on to our who God does the impossible, as we can also proclaim God continues to redeem, one life at a time.
To learn more about Peter and Paul, their life stories, and how you can personally sponsor these humble, powerful men of God, please feel free to write me directly.
Love, your sister along the journey,