Thursday, March 22, 2007

Story of a "Lost Boy"

Last night I had the honor of meeting Micheal, one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan, who came to speak at our Bible study. His incredible story reminded me once again that I have nothing to complain about. Here's a short synopsis of his account of the genocide in Sudan:

In the mid-1980's when the Muslim government was killing the Christians in southern Sudan, Micheal's friends and family knew they would soon have a choice--covert to Islam or die. His village would choose death...

One evening in 1987 Micheal was playing with the other boys his age (5-7yrs) outside the village when they heard gunshots back home. The elders had taught the kids that when the government came to kill them, they were to run and never get captured--so they ran. They traveled by foot for 1000 miles, meeting up with thousands of other kids along the way. Many of them were caught and killed by the Muslims, many were killed by wild animals and disease, while others died of starvation and dehydration.
30,000 kids ended up in Ethiopia where they were held in refugee camps, but still without food, running water, or medical attention. After 4 years there, their numbers had dwindled to under 10,000--then war broke out in Ethiopia. Once again, Micheal was on the move; after a dangerous river crossing where many of his friends were eaten by crocodiles or shot, he walked 1000 miles south into Kenya, where he found another refugee camp and was able to eat one small meal a day. He said all of the kids were begging the U.N. workers at this camp for education, and they finally got it. For 10 years he lived there; he'd get up, go to the church service, go the school, eat one meal, and go to bed.

He lived that way until 2001 when 3800 lost boys were brought to the United States. He went to Atlanta, then Wisconsin where he got his GED and majored in International Studies in college. He is very grateful to the US for bringing him in for a better life. Amazingly he still keeps in touch with 90% of the 3800 lost boys, and he's not sure how old he is (his mom said he was born in 1982, the U.N. says he was born in 1980--all the lost boys celebrate their b-day on Jan 1st).

Regarding the current conflict:
Micheal said that the Muslim government misled the people of Darfur in the 80's by promising them that they would go to heaven if they killed Christians. The government even went so far as to give them keys around their neck that would "open the door to their house in heaven." The people of Darfur were the ones who killed Micheal's friends and family, and destroyed their way of life. But Micheal forgives the people of Darfur, he knows they were misled, and now he seeks to save them from the current genocide as the Muslim government turns on the people of Darfur.

Q&A (paraphrased):
Q: What are the best ways to help?
A: 1. Pray 2. Encourage the church leaders in Sudan 3. Support for food, water, transportation, and education.
Q: How did you make it?
A: God protected and saved me, there is no other way I could have lived. I think it is for some reason that he kept me alive, maybe to speak with you tonight. I also knew that Jesus understood my suffering, because he also suffered.
Q: How did you deal with all the death and atrocities you witnessed?
A: Our life here is short, we will be in heaven soon.

If you want to read more about the history, here's a good short summary.