Sunday, March 15, 2015

Reflections in fiction, stories of struggling to survive. MJ, MT & AA

Reflections in fiction, stories of struggling to survive. 

As I think and process my role in South Sudan, both past, present, and future, I wanted to share some of the fictional stories I wrote one year ago. These stories, glimpses into other peoples' lives, are a culmination of stories I’ve heard, experiences that have been shared, laments offered in reflection, real people trying to make sense of this world. Though they are fictional, most stories are based on real people living in South Sudan.

MJ – 1

He had come to love others, to teach others, to preach, to heal, to equip, to lay down his life in service of his lord. He asked for grace and the strength to reach beyond himself to love others with and through the power, grace, and mercy shown to him by his Savior.

He knew the challenges were many, but he could never have predicted how the suffering would be so great. He had hoped he would like the culture and the people, but he had no idea the extent to which he would fall in love with them – as his brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors. Nothing could have prepared him for how much he felt cared for by his host culture, and how much he felt burdened for them to know everlasting joy, hope, and peace. The tears of grief observed, the extent of suffering locals experienced, and laments on their behalf were to become a common occurrence in his daily routine. If he only knew of what was to come, would he have chosen this life?

Surely he must have prayed for grace for the moment and courage to live out his faith, as no mere mortal strength could have carried him through the onslaught of suffering, sorrow, and death that was soon to come. He did not fear death, but he feared not truly living.

Many within his own culture, and even those that shared his religious beliefs,  questioned his lifestyle, his desire to serve the Lord to the ends of the earth, to go to an ‘unsafe’ place. Most thought him naïve, but he knew the risks, at least as well as he could, but his faith was greater than his fear. He asked not for safety, but for faith – a faith to enter into areas where others would not go, a faith that knew no borders, a faith that compelled him to love recklessly.

MT – 1

The evil that set in was palpable. The grip closing in on the community was undeniable. So many had turned towards the way of this world. Their hope was only in themselves and in lore of tradition, they gave power to the local witch doctors, and the witch doctors in turn held a trance over the people, using fear to motivate and control.

The days seemingly grew darker, not in light, but in cloudiness, cloudiness of soul and mind. The desire for more overcame the desire to love, and the hearts of men grew darker and darker. No act was unthinkable, no deception too great, even the minds of youth were corrupted towards greed and power. Overflowing wealth and control became the ultimate goals.

AA – 1

His heart sank deeper that day than he had ever known before.

The depth of his sorrow was blacker and thicker and more engulfing than he thought he could survive. He felt as if death had snatched his own life, but somehow he was still breathing, slowly closing his eyes, and hoping for the world to have changed when they opened again.

He was still alive while his son lay motionless in his arms, a creature so small, so innocent, recently so full of life, but now only death and decay.

He fell to the floor sobbing as the new wave of emotions, a new flood of sorrow, engulfed him yet again.

“WHEN! WHEN, oh Lord, will this suffering end?” he sobbed.

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