Some things are so unbearably painful that they feel unspeakable. Yet we who seek to save and to serve the world's most vulnerable unadoptable orphan must take courage, daring to see and tell what the rest of the world turns away from.
Everyone in Nuba, Sudan knows that when rainy season ends, the searing sun bakes the mud into a cement-worthy surface with just enough ruts left in it to help the Islamic tanks pull up and across the mountains with ease. Clear skies equal greater visibility and more accurate bombing. Thus, the end of rainy seasons hails the beginning of bomb blitzes and ground-troop invasion.
This year is no different. The bombing resumed two weeks ago, and in the last few days a Christian church was targeted—destroying it's compound—and six children were killed in the market.
There was nothing random about either of these targets. Market day happens only once a week in Sudan and South Sudan. Women walk for many miles—with multiple children under foot—with heavy loads of wood they have gathered from the bush piled high on their heads. Men bring garments they've made or bartered for. Four- and five-year-old girls carry large baskets of cassava leaves or other vegetation they have labored to pick. Six-year-old boys lead herds of cattle down the thatched-wall isles of the market.
All come for the same reason.—desperately working to band together, hoping to stay alive by trading, buying, sharing or selling the hard-earned fares to one another.
No one knows this ancient African system better than the radical Arabic-Islamic regime who has tried to eradicate all indigenous Africans from Sudan and South Sudan for the last six decades. They purposefully targeted the market on the one day a week when mass numbers of women and children would be so preoccupied with the business of survival that they would not be keenly aware of incoming bomber planes—and would be easy prey. Six children were killed, along with an unclear number of adults, and many more injured.
Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, is reported by numerous sources to say, "Sudan will adhere more exclusively to Islam and Arabic culture."
I have listened to and wept with many women who told me they were not only gang raped by this regime. Women are also raped with sticks—tearing out their uterus—while being told, "This is so you cannot make black-Christian babies."
By the grace of God, thus far, none of our orphans have been physically injured during these brutal attacks. Nor have the beautiful new homes we built for them been damaged. Still, these young children hear the planes approaching, see the parachute bombs descending and run for cover—just like many of their friends did as they were killed in their scurry.
Our children feel the earth-rattling thunder from crashing bombs in their bones for days. They are terrified and severely traumatized. Several of our orphans pass out as soon as they hear the roar of the planes approaching, losing consciousness for long periods at a time. All of this stirs within me a deep desire to not only save their bodies and tell them of the eternal love of Christ, but also to go deeper with them into holistic healing for their hearts and minds. It is a long-held dream of Milton's and mine to offer various forms of therapeutic care within the framework of our Faith, Hope, and Love Medical Mission. We've begun this slowly-by-slowly, but ask your prayers for the resources to meet this need in a deeper way.
What can ordinary people like you and me do in the face of such horror and inhumanity? For one, we can refuse to ignore it. We can be courageous enough to ponder what it would be like if we—or our sisters or wives—were "these women," and we can consider what it is we would hope others might do to help. I find when I am willing to put my heart and soul into the tracks of another woman's shoeless steps, confusion suddenly falls away. I suddenly know what is the right thing to do.
For one, I can speak out for them ... realizing they have no voice with the media, facebook, email and the many educational tools that we have. Which is better use of our modern technology, posting a picture of what I ate for lunch today or sharing a story that could help turn the tides of a multigenerational genocide and sex-slave campaign?
Honestly, I'm never very good at sharing someone else' loss and pain if I'm not in touch with my own ... it kicks up too much for me. So I usually start by listening to the swells of sorrow washing around inside of me as I hear or read one of these horrifying stories. Soon, I get in touch with the orphaned or abandoned parts of myself, and all becomes clear as to what action I need to take.
It's like the blog I recently wrote about Rusty the True, my rescue horse, "... I am not noble enough to throw myself into harm's way—whether that be in a war zone or in front of a half-ton traumatized wild-thing—simply for the sake of the other. Somewhere deep inside, I know that it is through the very act of reaching out for the orphan in another, that I rescue the orphaned parts of myself. The parts that are bound in resentment, fear, defensiveness, or shame. I also know that if I do not continue to reach out to the lost and abandoned, I will be more than troubled. I will wither ... completely dry up ... and be lost in evil's intent against me."
Let not your heart be troubled ... I will come ... and so send I you. ~Jesus
Kimberly L. Smith is the founder of Make Way Partners, a ministry to orphans in the Sudan. She is also the author of Passport Through Darkness, A True Story of Danger and Second Chances.
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