Thursday, March 6, 2014

A thing worse than death...

Bishop Grant tells me that one of our villages in the Gambela People's Region was attacked recently by marauding bands, probably from a neighboring country. Three people, including a pregnant young woman (so 4 people really) were killed and eight children were kidnapped. Three children managed to escape, but the others are still missing and will no doubt end up in the slave market - this is sex trafficking at its worst

The villagers all fled across the river, and are now housed in another village which has welcomed them, but they lost their crops and many belongings.  +Grant brought one truck load of food and non- food items, but much more is needed. 

Because of these all too common occurrences, Louise and I are beginning to read up on how to deal with trauma as we will need to know how to deal with some of the deepest scars imaginable.  Losing a child to death is one thing, but losing your child and not knowing what will happen to them - yet knowing that the sex trade is alive and well in that area - must surely break your heart like nothing else.

Tears today...well expressed in this hymn written by Mary Garang.

Death Has Come 

1. Death that has come to reveal the faith;
it has begun with us and it will end with us.
O you who fear death, do not fear death!
It only means that you will disappear from the earth.
Who is there who can save his life and deny death?
We who live on the earth, we are mere sojourners in the world;
As the Lord has said: Let us serve the truth!
Upon the earth there is no man we can call our "father".
We abide together equally in unity as brothers.
God did not create us to be the slaves of mere mortals like ourselves.
This cannot happen upon the earth!

We are only the windblown dust rising from the black soil;
We have no one among us to save our souls.
We are blind and deaf within our hearts: We have rejected the words,
    the words spoken by our Savior are wonderful words!
The jok of deception has held us back from the light. *2

2. Let us comfort our hearts in the hope of God,
    who once breathed life into the human body.
His ears are open to our prayer; the Creator of man is alert to see!
He reigns from his high throne; he sees the souls of those who die!
Turn your ears to us! Who else can we call for help?
You are the only one! Let us be branches from the vine of your Son!
Jesus will come with the final word of judgment,
    carrying the book of judgment upon the earth,
    the book of peace and the life of faith!

3. Evil and good are competing. The earth will stand still
    and the blood of mankind will cry out: "O Lord, Lord!"
People are crying out all over the earth: "God, do not make us orphans
    of the earth!
Look back upon us, O Creator of humankind!
Evil is in conflict with us tying heavy burdens upon our necks which no
    person can bear."

4. Let us encourage our hearts in the hope of God who once breathed into the human body.
His ears are open to our prayers; the Creator of humankind is watching;
He reigns from his place, seeing the souls of those who die.
    Turn your ears to us: upon whom else can we call?
Is it not you alone, O God? Let us be branches of your Son.
Jesus will come with the final word of judgment, bringing glory to the earth, peace and the truth of faith.

Mary Alueel Garang, then a young illiterate village woman behind Sudan's battle lines in north Bor, composed this song in 1985 shortly after her conversion to Christianity. *1

Marc comments:
"This is an apocalyptic vision from the heart of a child of Sudan in wartime. All the inhabitants of the earth are engaged in terrible conflict, combat both physical, in the body, and spiritual. Then in one great, culminating moment they all, with one united voice, cry out, pleading that they not be made "orphans of the earth", not be abandoned, made destitute, landless, as it seems so obviously they are.
    In the final verse there is an abrupt step back, taking in the larger, encompassing reality: Above and over all is the Creator God brooding, listening, intently gazing on all that occurs. Under his eye none is bereft. None is orphaned. The compassionate, creating Father is attentive to each loss, each soul that dies, be it that of a young soldier, infant babe, or destitute widow, whether by bullet or through starvation: each is known and beloved. With confidence we affirm that Christ will intervene, will arbitrate and establish that glorious peace which is longing to be born...
    God is intimately present even amid what appears to be his utter abandonment."

*1 Nikkel, Marc, Why Haven't You Left? Letters from the Sudan (Ed. Grant LeMarquand), Church Publishing Inc, NY, 2006, 59, 60, 80.
*2 "In the Jieng language the terms jok (singular) is the broadest generic designation for any unseen spiritual force of power."

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