“A Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds….Which of these do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Luke 10:33-36
“Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
Iris Ministries Aweil has officially begun its work in the north of South Sudan and what an amazing work it is! The opportunities for ministry, all types, are limitless. The harvest is truly abundant here for salvation, for discipleship, for orphans and widows, and for healing and deliverance. Our primary focus in Aweil is for the orphans.
Of all the times I came in the last two years to visit Aweil, I was told by everyone who talked to me that there are many “orphans” on the streets of Aweil. So I believed that all of these children had no parents. This week the Iris Aweil team began the journey down the road to get to know them as individuals. We are finding the stories are the same with almost all of them. They do have parents but they are drunkards or stepparents who beat them in order to chase them away from the new marriage.
Meet Biang Kuol, 11 years old, who’s father died and his mother remarried. Biang, a quiet, serious and sad boy from Warrap, talks very quietly, eyes downcast. We found him walking alone on the road to the market. His stepfather beat him continuously so Biang fled to the streets in another state miles and miles away. We prayed for him and our pastor pulled him close to hug him like a father should. He now greets us in the market.
We then came to Adut who is 10 and her little brother, Jikjik, who is five. Their parents are living on the street wherever the alcohol flows. These little ones are told to find their own things to eat. They don’t even bother going home anymore because there is no home. It is wherever their parents pass out. Adut is a serious and very beautiful little girl with the eyes of a 20 year old.
There is Garang who is nine. His mother died and his father drinks and beats him. He too fled to the “safety” of the streets. Dut, who is also nine, has been on the streets since he was four years old. His mother is a drunk who has no concern for his whereabouts. These two parents live right here in the city of Aweil.
This is the typical story of the street kids. The alcohol is extremely cheap because it is made from sorghum and maize corn remnants. It is hard, hard stuff and it literally makes these people mean and crazy, frying their brains. Of all the children we met this week, there were no “orphans” technically. Yet, they are orphaned because the parents have walked away from this responsibility, chasing after drink or seeking to hold on to a new marriage which has gained a more important place than their own children. The work ahead is going to be huge and about reconciliation and breaking the spirit of addiction in these families.
We have also begun the ministry of caring for wounds on all the boys. We hit the streets each armed with first aid kit and love and prayer. The children come to us all the time now, loving our hugs and our smiles of love for them. The police used to chase them away from us, thinking that they were bothering us. The police now know that we love these boys and have become our friends also. The wounds on these boys are serious. The children get septic sores on their legs, not just street children either, and no matter how clean they are, they still get them. Children from clean environments can usually manage these wounds. But the street children cannot manage them and they get out of control. The small wounds turn into one, two and three inch circumference open and festering sores, flies constantly eating at them.
So, the children now bring us their friends who need tending and they love to be prayed for and touched. They smile when they see us and even though we can’t feed them yet, they are still happy we are here, some of the smaller ones even holding my hands and walking with me as we go along. They know that they matter to someone now. This is our reward, the smile of a child who knows he is loved and not a throw away or someone for the police to beat.
There is one boy, about 16 years old, his name is Manyang. He is in a wheelchair and is missing one leg, amputated at the knee. He lives on the street. His friend brought him to us and lifted the pants leg of his “good” leg and I almost passed out from the smell of rotting flesh. He has one of these wounds that has taken over his entire leg from the knee down. He keeps a burlap sack over it because the flies come in the hundreds to attack it. We immediately took him to the main hospital. They rejected him! Told us to take him to a city three hours drive away. We took him to three other clinics, all rejecting him. I couldn’t believe it.
We finally found Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) and they gladly took him in. He was due to have his surgery to repair his good leg, although rotting, on Tuesday. When the time came to go under the knife, he ran, literally ran, er rolled away. He left the hospital. We spent the next hour scouring the streets for him. It’s amazing how well a boy in a wheelchair can hide himself. When we caught up to him we learned his story.
During the war, his leg was injured somehow (kind of unclear here) and he was taken to Wau, a city three hours away. He went into surgery and woke up with his leg chopped off. He thought that on Tuesday they were going to chop the other one! We talked for two hours and finally got him to go back to the hospital. Too late, the surgeons had gone. The next morning we receive another call that he is refusing to go under, he doesn’t trust them to not chop his leg. I get there and spend the next hour trying to talk him into it. We were about to give up when all of a sudden, out of desperation, I reach into my bag and pull out money and yes, I bribe him to do it. Sorry if that offends anyone but desperate situations sometimes lead to desperate acts of love.
Here on the streets money talks when nothing else does. It took him all of two minutes to decide to do it. The surgeon said he gave him enough anesthesia to knock out a horse and even as he was fighting going under he kept making the motion not to chop his leg. He came to and saw his leg still intact and was very happy. I love this story because his trust in mankind was restored. MSF is now saying that if he completes this treatment they will send him to the capitol city of Juba to also receive a new prosthetic leg for his amputated one. A street boy receives favor from his Papa God! Praise You Father for your love of this one, this one who drinks like a sailor and is a wild boy, but you love him.
Another boy, Joseph, and eleven year old small scrap of a boy, who was found drunk and passed out in the road. His head had been run over by a car! His scalp was peeled back on one entire side, his ear flapping down with a severed ear canal. They didn’t even count the stitches there were so many. His eyes were swollen shut. The doctor said that he was able to shoot water through a hypodermic syringe from the inside out!! This boy has become our newest “son” and he is the sweetest kid. The doctor said that it is a miracle, a true miracle from God that this boy has no brain damage whatsoever and he can hear perfectly from his ear! The Papa’s favor on another of His boys! Joseph now helps Manyang in the hospital when he needs anything.
In Matthew 9:37 Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” The next lines in the Bible Jesus then gives his workers, the disciples, the authority to heal and cast out demons. So I pray and pray and touch and love wherever I can each day, believing that His word will accomplish that which I pray. There is my favorite cheeky boy named Garang who has been hanging out with me since I first saw him two years ago on my first visit back. He used to always fight and rarely smiled. Whenever I saw him I would pay special attention to him in all my visits and pray for him. I am noticing that, for some reason, he seems to smile a lot more and I never really see him fight. Seeds sown?
In the midst of all this ministry with the street children, we still meet with church leaders and governmental officials. Praise God I have managed to secure the place that God promised me last year called Masara for our feeding program! We shall soon start our feeding program. We still need to hire cooks and purchase food and set the program up with our volunteer Sudanese disciplers. The Lord did highlight to me this week in Psalms 145, during team devotions that “The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time.” I trust and believe that.
Also during our week, we are reaching out to some of the local churches and having mini teaching seminars concerning relationship with God and His heart, Intimacy with Him, restoring bodies to full health and equipping the believers to do the works that Jesus did because He gave us this promise that we would. And last night, we had our first community outreach in the Darfur Refugee village of Maper. I took my electronics and my Jesus Film, Dinka version, and set up a sheet on the side of a mud hut, dust flying everywhere, hundreds of excited kids, and enjoyed God’s Presence in this poorest of poor places. It was a great encouragement to all and some came forward for healing and salvations. We left there amidst happy faces and hearts filled.
I am on my way now to bring fresh bread to the boys in the market. I quote the words of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, born in 1696 in Italy.
“Jesus yearns to come to our souls in Holy Communion. And so that everyone could easily receive Him, He chose to leave Himself under the appearance of bread. If He had left Himself under the appearance of some rare or very costly food, the poor would be deprived of Him. But no, Jesus wanted to place Himself under the form of bread, which costs little and can be found everywhere, so that every person in every country can find and receive Him.”
Share Jesus’ love and bring His Presence, fresh bread, to those who are starving today. I go to bring His communion to these boys, bringing them the living bread of His Love for them. With love and compassion, our Iris Aweil Team invites you to pray for us and for our family of street children.