Today, I begin a several-day journey through something akin to a time warp. Over the next several days, my mode of transportation will gradually regress from jet, to a tiny winged plane we call “The Mosquito”, to a Land Cruiser, and ultimately my feet. Ultimate Destination: New Life Ministry, South Sudan.
The time-warp sensation is fueled by more than the obvious lack of running water, electricity, and toilets. It also feeds off the memories of my first visit to the cusp of the Sahara Desert at the edge of Darfur; my head is full of images of a tall skinny, Dinka man running from tree-to-tree as he taught readin’, ‘rithmetic, and Bible verses to 153 mostly naked, orange-haired kids. Malnourishment literally sapped the color from their hair and skin. They huddled tightly together under leafless trees, trying to avoid the Sahara sun in 140 degree heat. Their eyes followed James—as he ran the three-treed triangle gauntlet, separating the three lesson plans of that day, “ABCD”, “1234”, and “For God so Loved the World”.
The gentle face of my dear friend who nagged me for more than a year to go with him to Darfur in the height of that genocide crowds in among the pale pallor of our children’s. Petr Jasek had worked with Voice of the Martyrs and been to Darfur several times. He assured me it wasn’t safe, but that if I was serious about helping the world’s most suffering women and children, then I’d go to Darfur. Once there, I understood why I was the only foreign women any of the children had ever seen. What sane woman would voluntarily go where rape is a government-sanctioned weapon of war? Yet, Petr’s long-term faithful service and gentle chiding challenged my faith to move beyond spouted words, and lean into becoming a fool for Christ.
Twelve years later, we mark both losses and triumphs along the journey. Today, Petr is in a Sudanese prison where he has been captive for more than a year. The government of Sudan holds trials of mockery as they threaten him with the death sentence for speaking against their demagogue-ship. They nabbed him last year as he went about doing what we’ve both committed our lives to do: stand for the oppressed, serve the least. He was taken from the town of Our Father’s Cleft, MWP newest orphanage, along with our indigenous leader’s pastor and two other Sudanese. It could have been me; instead, I am left to tell his story as he rots in prison, with no contact to the outside world. His family suffers unspeakable pain even as they pray for his release.
I know the little plot of land I stumbled upon with Petr so many years ago would fill his heart with great joy today—for today, it stands for Something New. Today, instead of starving, angry orphans you see transformed, singing young men and women who know and share the grace and mercy of Christ. They know this love because YOU responded in love when you heard of their suffering. You have prayed through military attacks, famines, corruption, and chemical warfare. YOU gave money when the world of wisdom called it foolish to build school rooms or clinics in a war zone. Thanks to YOU, today, I begin the long journey back in time to bear witness to the birthing of a new and glorious era—the one we’ve labored in love toward for the last 12 years.
Our children are not only the first in their families to ever graduate high school, but most of them are the first to even be literate. And, thanks to our Faith, Hope, and Love holistic care, they are gaining glimpses of healing from trauma—working hand-in-hand with their education.
I did not know twelve years ago that we would have made it this far. I had no clue Make Way Partners would have donors and prayer partners in more than 40 countries and have an office in Taiwan. Catherine, the head of our Asian operations will accompany me, as well as, Sherry, a Taiwanese volunteer. Please share our Chinese facebook page with all your local Chinese-speaking churches, friends, or co-workers.
By God’s grace we are seeing far-fetched dreams come true that we—as mere mortals—never even imagined. Our orphans are now more educated than most of their parliamentary leaders. Thanks to our Child Sponsorship, families around the world know their personal stories and pray for them by name, as well as, provide for their financial support.
Many of our graduates will go onto university in neighboring African countries. We will offer practical and technical training to those who are not accepted, hiring several of them ourselves. None of this would be possible without you, your prayers and your financial support.
This Christmas, I am thrilled to celebrate the birth of Christ and the Life He continues to live through each and every one of you as you so freely share it with our children. Your investment is the kind only fools would have made, fools for Christ. Together, we are changing the nations, one orphan at a time.