James, Romano, Ayoub, Klero, and I are the five indigenous leaders of Make Way Partners (MWP). We are from the cusp of Darfur, Eastern Equatoria, the Nuba Mountains, and the U.S. We each feel a unified and all-consuming call from God to stand for thousands of staff and orphans struggling for life, and fast losing hope in the midst of an active genocide.
Sometimes, this “all-consuming” call whittles away at our own hope. I heard that haunting wolf of despair growling out of Romano’s voice in mid-July as he told me, “Today, our children were not awakened by their normal loving morning touches …instead rapid rounds of gunfire as opposition forces drew near roused them rough and quick.”
The war broke out in the heart of the capital of South Sudan a few days earlier. A Ugandan helicopter warship bombed the vice president and opposition leader Machar’s house. Then the opposition force took down the Ugandan helicopter. South Sudanese gunships from Juba ran the rebels out of town to exactly where we’d hope they would not—our Hope for South Sudan orphanage.
As our staff and children hunkered down, three bombs struck our orphanage. None were seriously wounded, yet the impact of senseless massacres leaves treks deeper than a roving tank on every fiber of our hearts, minds, and souls. Multiple sources report, hundreds of people have been slaughtered and raped; more have—and are starving as all escape routes, food, and water supplies are cut off.
Taking three direct hits at Hope for South Sudan, rationing our food, having our phone networks cut off, knowing of government-sanctioned rape and summary executions—ordered by the president and commanders themselves, and finding a hanged young mother with dying infants lying just below her dangling feet can all have a despairing effect on a person. As Winston Churchill said, “One thing I’m sure of, whether you believe or disbelieve, it is a wicked thing to take away a man’s hope.”
President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, has made it known through both words and actions that anyone—indigenous or foreign—who is suspicioned of speaking against the government is at risk of immediate execution. President Omar al Bashir in Sudan has declared the same.
How does a man or woman of integrity in the midst of such horror not speak out? We would be as Jeremiah with the very words of God burning in our soul, a hellfire within.
I have never walked into Sudan or South Sudan naively or with bravado. I count the cost of each and every step I take—and each and every word I write and publish. I know my activities are tracked and I know I am not liked by the men who profit through rape and murder. I do know the risks, just as Romano, James, Klero, and Ayoub intimately do for staying and giving their lives for the children, rather than fleeing as so many would in their shoes.
Every time I write an op-ed or a blog naming the evil of both the leadership in Sudan and South Sudan, I also know it puts me at greater risk each time I go in or out of these countries. I know, too, that prayer and share are the only power I have, and God has bid me to do both: from my knees, tell the story. I’ll share it and ask others to share it too, until there is such a swelling of “Jeremiahs” ripping from the pages of life the lying words of “Peace. Peace …there is no peace.” that these insane leaders are brought down and the South Sudanese are given a genuine opportunity to cull a positive peace of their own.
This positive peace, however, is never possible if individuals and nations refuse to look at the facts. In Passport through Darkness, I told of a dear friend who challenged me day-after-day to go to Sudan. In the book, I called him PJ to protect his identity, knowing that the death penalty is very real threat for humanitarian aid workers who simply witnessed the effect of genocide and Christian persecution.
PJ took me to Sudan. That trip forever changed my life, and through a vast amount of communication from many supporters and partners I’ve received, I suspicion the story has played a role in changing the lives of millions of others too. It can all be traced back to PJ’s passion for Christ and tenacity to keep nagging me.
The next year, PJ wrote this, “I have known Kimberly since 2004 when we met in Prague and traveled together to Transnistria, Moldova. I also took part in one of the regional meetings in the USA where I introduced the work done in cooperation between MWP and The Voice of the Martyrs. Then, I also traveled with her to Sudan.
“Kimberly is a very devoted hard working person that works in a very transparent and honest way …While we were in Southern Sudan, Kimberly was very interested to hear about the different traumas that the Sudanese women went through during the time of persecution. Kimberly noticed that one of the Sudanese women was wearing some very badly worn slippers. She was deeply moved by that and decided to give her own boots to this woman and in turn wore the Sudanese woman’s flimsy slippers. That was a very compelling and moving testimony to the Sudanese community as well as to us westerners.”
PJ’s real name is Petr Jasek, a beautiful man from Czech Republic with a beautiful wife and two children, who all share in his commitment and passion for Christ. I can tell his real name now because the government of Sudan finally imprisoned him. He and three other pastors have been rotting in their prison since last Christmas and held without charges. I can too-well imagine the beatings, torture, and suffering they have endured during these long nine months. The Sudanese have sought to characterize Petr as a “filmmaker” whose aim was to conspire against the Sudanese state. The prosecution is pursuing the death penalty.
Someone said to me, “I can’t believe they didn’t just kill him immediately.”
My response, “They’re using him like Mary Achai.” When Mary escaped on foot from slavery in the north of Sudan with her children, Mary’s Muslim slave master caught up with the escapees on horseback. Firing his machine gun into the air, he threatened to kill her, but decided that was not enough fun. Instead, he set the bush she was hiding in on fire to make her suffer a slow, agonizing death.
In Mary’s case, evil did not have the final say. When she found MWP, we were able to medevac Mary out of South Sudan for surgery in Kenya. With many long years of health care ahead of her and a promise of a life-long job supplying income for her and her family, she is a delight to be near, and leads a beautiful group of Christ-centered women back in South Sudan.
Petr’s story is not finished yet either. Let us come together as the very burning bush of God so hot and holy that we cannot be ignored, praying for Petr’s release, as well as, Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Kodi, Rev. Kuwa Shemaal, and Christian leader Abdelmoneim Abdelmoula. All who are currently on trial in Khartoum. Just as we did for Mariam Ibrahim during her trials from the same radical Sudanese prison system. The Czech Republic is handling all negotiations. They ask that we NOT write the Sudanese Embassy or any other complaint/request letters. They DO ask for prayers!
Here is a report on the latest developments: click here.
Then, don’t just “share” about MWP. Get your church involved, by scheduling speaking engagements or public awareness and action nights. Endorse the work of Make Way Partners, and let us become stronger together!
Let people know what a difference we are making by partnering together for LIFE.