So, I started my week, actually it was Sunday, by helping some widows who were brought to my attention by one of our watchmen. There is a refugee camp just south of us, in the city perimeter of Aweil, called Aphada Refugee Camp. These people are mostly from the northern city of Khartoum but are South Sudanese who fled there during the war. During the war, many ran north to escape the killing fields and once South Sudan became independent, these people came back. This state, Bahr El Ghazal, was the worst hit and there is even a field just north of Aweil that had so many dead bodies that people refused to use the road for three months or more because the stench of rotted flesh was so bad. My staff tells me stories and I have to remember that this was real stuff just five, six years ago.
The watchman told me about five widows in this camp who had small children. These children hadn’t eaten in four days and were crying and weak and suffering. The rains have come and these ladies were living in shelters that had thin grass roofs, which didn’t hold back the rains so they were soaking wet on top of everything else. I immediately sent tarps to them to protect from the rains. The next day we sent big bags of Lentils and salt and oil. These ladies were so happy and relieved to eat again, especially for their children. They wanted to meet me to thank me personally but I try very hard not to deliver these things myself. I want the South Sudanese people to see help coming from their own and not the “white man”. So when we are delivering food items to families like this or sending boys home, I prefer my pastors to go and give. This giving brings such joy to our pastors and I surely don’t want to take that from them. You should see their faces when they tell the stories of their adventures, it is so worth it to me to allow them the joy of giving.
We also took eight more boys home this week to their villages. Two sets of boys were brothers and our youngest boy to go home this week was ten years old. He had only been gone for six months yet he was so relieved to get off the street and back home. I have created a FaceBook photo album called Street Boys Gone Home if you want to peek at the pictures. It is very hard for me to upload photo’s because our internet is so slow so I usually wait until I leave the African continent to update my Website photo library. As usual, the parents of the boys are always so happy to see their boys come home.
We also revisited three boys whom we had taken home over the last few weeks who we left in desperate conditions, yet they wanted to stay. When my pastor returned with big bags of lentils and maize flour, the families were incredulous. They kept saying that they thought we would not remember them. When we bring boys home and assess their situation, if we promise to return with help, no matter how far they are, we will. One of the families was almost a full days journey out. He even said that he thought we would never return. You see, these boys are so aware of being abandoned and forgotten that when someone comes through on their promise, they will never forget. We want these families to see love in action and that it doesn’t take a huge NGO like World Food Program to offer them help.
One place where my hands are still tied, well, where I haven’t heard the answer yet, is the ladies who drink and prostitute themselves at the expense of the health of their children. The children who are old enough to walk, they find their way to us and get fed. But, every day I see ladies walking the streets, drunk at 9:00 a.m., carrying skinny, boney, malnourished babies with sunken skeleton looking heads, not even able to hold themselves erect for lack of nourishment. These babies I can do nothing about and it grieves my spirit. The ladies don’t want juice for their child or bread, actually slapping it away because they want money. I know I have written about this before but again and again I am reminded of our debt to God.
Romans 13:8,11 “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another…. And do this understanding the present time.”
God really struck my heart with this scripture almost two years ago and it still remains impaled upon my heart. How can I walk by these tragic scenes and not be moved to do something? Some things are not in our power to change, but those things that are, I pray I don’t walk by without leaving change in my wake. So many times I am exhausted by the end of the day, physically and mentally, and my team even tells me that I don’t have to carry every burden. But God has put something in me that strives for excellence, His excellence, being a good steward of the gifts that He has given me. The Bible says that we are to DO everything as if unto the Lord. If that is my Lord on the street, can I just walk by? I don’t say, “WWJD?” I say, What if that were Jesus standing there?” Am I a bit driven at times? Yes, maybe. I would rather be a bit driven than miss it all together.