You could not write this story if you tried.
When I landed in Yei, Sudan in 2004 there were no vehicles, few shops and lots of funerals…all night long. We were there to observe reconciliation between bishops, priests, and pastors: healing at the end of decades of war.
When I landed in Yei, South Sudan two weeks ago there were few vehicles, few shops and lots of silence…all night long. We were there to observe the assembly of rebel soldiers and their families; reconciliation between neighbors, friends, and family…healing after nearly four years of civil war.
In between there is you and me and thousands of others, preschoolers and octogenarians, bishops and school teachers, veterans and well crew cooks, 5Ks and lemonade stands. One could make a case that we have accomplished nothing together, that in the absence of progress, there is just failure.
You can listen to a hundred different graduation speeches but they all carry a certain thread. To build a quality life, one must care about others more than yourself, work hard, and force yourself to develop stick-to-itiveness. Basically, do well and keep doing it over and over again. It’s really good basic advice and what drives our work.
I just left Nancy & Jean’s home a few hours ago. We had never met but they have given to the people of South Sudan since they heard about our work. Both in their 80’s with lots of “life happens” stories, they are a living example to me of a good graduation speech lived out. They are doing good, over and over, till they can’t do anything anymore. We said goodbye so they could get to the senior center where they volunteer twice per week…stick-to-it-iveness!
Bishop Taban and our well crew guys, Anne Grace and her amazing team of women, you and I, we are doing well. Others have given up but we can claim that we together have given life and hope to a little girl and her mother today. We can honestly say we are saving lives; we are in the businesses of bringing hope.
Over the next couple of months, we will be sharing some of the faces and stories from this last decade of work in Sudan and then South Sudan. I hope and pray you will be encouraged to give or to give more but also to share, shout even. There is hope because there are people in need and when we bind together, hope springs.