Humbled by Answered Prayer

Well, this has been a week hasn’t it?  Down here in Australia, the virus is waning but the restrictions are still strongly enforced. Fortunately we’re moving into Autumn, so we’re not tempted to camp or go to the beach so much. But that’s not why you’re here today, I’m guessing? You want to hear about the Child Soldier story I promised, right?

I wish I could articulate how I’ve been feeling about this whole deal, but let me just start at the beginning:

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling particularly discouraged, and so, (even though I don’t often do this) I prayed an honest but whiney prayer, “Lord, I need some encouragement .………. and I’d like someone….. anyone, to just call and say hello.”

Then I went about my every day business.

Almost on cue, I GOT A PHONE CALL!  It was a FRIEND that I don’t really know that well, asking if I’d like to take a walk.  So, there was a request ‘granted’ so to speak.  But God wasn’t finished yet.

Tony and I got dressed, combed our hair and went off for our daily visit to the hospital for what, instead of the standard term, “Radiation” he prefers to call the “laser light sword” treatment.  On the way home, we stopped into a seldom-used supermarket to get those one or two items that we always seem to need (Tony waits in the car, to keep it legal).

In the spirit of Social Distancing, there was a security guard ……well, standing guard.  As the line progressed, I had time to observe him. He was well over 6 feet tall, VERY BLACK and had VERY WHITE teeth.  That can only mean one thing, so I stepped up to my allotted square and asked him, “Where are you from?”

That can be a dicey question in Australia where everybody’s got some ethnicity but may have been born here, and often the answer, given with some offense, is, “Australia”, but he beamed at me and in that beautiful accented English said, “South Sudan”.

Definitely the second answer to prayer for the day.

I told him about us and he told me about himself.  I said we were in Ethiopia in 1996 for three months at the Bonga UN refugee camp in Gambella, Ethiopia. His answer was, “I know that camp, but I’m from the Dinka tribe.”

Tony and I worked with the other tribe, the Uduk, which had been re-located to a separate camp because the Dinkas kept beating up on them. When I reminded this man of that, he just smiled and said, “Yes, that would be right.”

Anyway, in the space of 3 or 4 minutes we laughed and reminisced.  I wanted to hug him and told him so, but of course …. we can’t do that right now, can we?  I got his details and in a few days he called me and filled in some more about his life. We ascertained that he’s a Christian and I was able to call some of the people from his church that we know and find out more.

I was prepared to tell you all about him, but I decided to Google him just on a whim and I found SO MUCH about him that I’m going to just leave it to you to have a look for yourselves.  His name is Yai Atem.  If the link doesn’t open when you click on it, just copy and paste into your browser.  Have your tissues ready.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-18/lost-boy-of-sudan-yai-atem/6947506

I’m going to have to let you draw your own conclusions about him. All I can say was that he was a specific answer to what I needed that day.  All this week, I’ve tried to get my head around what I think about him, but I’m still working on it. I think for once in my life, I really don’t know WHAT to think.  Anything I could say at this point would be cliche’.

But I do have to share what his parting words to me were as I was jostled forward in line and was pushed out of earshot.

“Don’t worry,” he called to me, “You and I have seen worse than this!”

I staggered out of the store, confused and so very humbled, I didn’t even yet know (because I had yet to search the internet) exactly what he’d been thru, but I knew my so-called “hardships” could never compare.

Later he clarified to me on the phone, “I don’t know what we’d have done without you Christian people who saved our lives”.

If this post has in any way touched you, please try to see the Sandra Bullock movie, “The Good Lie”.  It came out several years ago and is the best representation of what was going on over there when we were involved.  Yai told me he was either IN the movie or that was HIS life ……. I couldn’t understand thru my tears.

Hoping as usual you’re all doing great.  Tony’s still feeling fine with only 3 more weeks of radiation to go.  We’re getting good at the internet, holding Bible Studies as well as ‘attending’ some great church services.  Today, to top it off, we got up early, dressed in our best and had a nice Zoom conversation with 4 other retired missionary friends across the world in three time zones, really uplifting.

Keep being Faithful.

Marsha

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