Its amazing the stark opposite emotions you can experience in life here. At times- feeling a love so intense and deep I actually feel something inside me might burst—and then feeling such an utter loneliness it seems every ounce of life has literally leaked out of the seams of who I am. It’s so peculiar how one person can know the reality of two completely contradictory truths, and yet for neither to nullify the validity of the other. And how beautiful it is to know and share my life with the kind of God who has the power to reach to both extremes of reality and emotion— and meet you where ever you are.
Here is a glimpse into the roller-coaster of emotions that God has carried me through in this place.
*Miracles Do Happen*
Last year when I came and worked in the schools, we met a boy name Kadema. Kadema was a smart and smiley boy who loved to take pictures and was rarely seen without his precious old camera strapped around his neck. Being as friendly as he was, we came to know his story quickly. Since as long ago as he can remember, Kadema had been an orphan. Stories have been passed on to him that as a young child, his family’s home was attacked, and all of his family members were abducted and taken away with soldiers. But little Kadema was left behind all alone. A neighbor found him and through the years he was passed off again and again from one guardian to another. Then one year, he traveled here—to Nimule, all alone; Alone as he always was, and as he thought he’d always be. For years, Kadema has lived here in Nimule all alone. As an orphan, with no trace of any family to be found, Kadema was forced to raise himself. Though it may have been hard to identify at the time, God never lost sight of Kadema and was in all actuality actively seeking this young boy’s heart. Though initially raised in the Dinka tribe which is predominantly Animist, Kadema was divinely linked with some Catholic Sisters who connected him to the Catholic Diocese Parish, who for years, then supplied Kadema with education Scholarships. This small act alone planted a seed in his mind about the kind of love that the God of Christians had to offer in the midst of his despair. As an orphan with no one to look after him or to hold him accountable to his studies, Kadema managed to motivate himself throughout all these years; thinking “who knows if my father is alive… but if he were… id want to make him proud”. And this alone, he says would give him that last push to not throw his books down. This past year, his Catholic School funding was ending, and it seemed he would no longer be able to continue with school. But that’s where God came in once more. God sent Emily and I here, to Nimule. We met Kadema, and after a little working of His magical hands, God had Kadema as one of our priority Scholarship Recipients since he had worked so hard as to reach the number one position in his entire grade level. With that task out of the way, God had relieved a burden and shown a bit more of his grace all in the same; but He had one more miracle he wanted to work in this boy’s life.
This year when we returned, Emily brought back a Polaroid Classic Camera for Kadema. Just as she assumed, he fell in love with it, and couldn’t believe that the picture printing and coloring was all done right there inside the camera! 🙂 Just like good ol’ Kadema, he carried that thing around like it was his little baby- and little did he know that this was going to bring him the biggest miracle of his life. One day Kadema was standing outside of some of the immigration offices when a man came up and asked him what it was hanging around his neck. “It’s a camera. From America!” he said. The man said, “No. I don’t believe it.” Kadema laughed and said “here let me show you”. So he took the mans photo and the man was genuinely shocked and amused at this technological marvel. In talking, the two recognized they shared a tribal dialect and settled into comfortable conversation. And in the midst of this, the Holy Spirit (I believe) led the man to ask Kadema what his name was. He gave his whole name as is common here. The man paused at his last name and asked Kadema to repeat it. He did, and the man asked, “Who is your father?” “I’m told his name is so and so, but I don’t even know. I was orphaned as a young boy. I’m told my family was abducted by soldiers and I was left behind.”
The man froze and said…. “………… I know your family. I know you. I was a neighbor of yours when you were a child. I was abducted with your family that day…”
The story unfolded and Kadema’s life changed all in an instant as the man told him that not only did he know Kadema from a part of his life that not even he could remember— but the man told Kadema— that his father— and mother—- and BOTH of his brothers…… ARE STILL ALIVE AND WELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Over the next days the man managed to reach Kademas family who is living in Central Sudan in the capital city, Khartoum. And for the first time in at least a decade….. Kadema spoke with his father on the telephone! Kadema says his father sat in silence and disbelief for over five minutes on the phone. Then his father began telling Kadema how sorry he was for not finding him; that he thought Kadema was dead; he didn’t know what to do. And grace just poured out of this young boy as he said, “no father. It’s not your fault… I’ve been ok….and I’ve been working to make you proud.”
When I met Kadema on the road the day he shared this story with me, his entire inner self was lit up like id never seen before. As he shared the miracle of it all with me, my skin was blanketed in chills, and something inside of me was confirmed—that God is good.
“Are you so happy?” I asked. “So happy…” he smiled from the inside out, “…all these years…. I thought I was an orphan….. Just to know… I’m not an orphan…” It was like you could see every pain and struggle inside of him resolving and hope pouring over every ounce of who he was. “God is so good.” He said. “I’m seeing now that all along God was so good to me. He was always with me. First with the Sisters who got me Scholarships… .Other wise, how would I have known about Christianity? And then once that scholarship was done, he sent YOU to keep me in school, and then Emily to bring me the camera. Without the Camera, that man may have never spoken to me… … God is just so good.” He said with the most genuine smile on his face. A still took over my body as I was humbled and awed by the works of Gods hands. How incredible it is to be used in this AWESOME, loving, and intricate plan God has for someone else’s life; the life of someone I’d never met before I came here, but who I’m certain God brought me here (in part) for. To know that this little scholarship project that I think of in numbers and values, was used to play a part in completely changing the course and looks of someone’s life. To know… that God actually does use us in his works… is amazing. And how wonderfully lucky I was to get to see the result of his love; His Amazing, Miraculous Love.