by Denise Sciuto, Associate Director
“as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” —2 Corinthians 6:4–10
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit some of Frontier Fellowship’s partners in East-Central Africa for the first time. Making arrangements to travel to a place I’d never been was a bit overwhelming. I knew I needed to go without a detailed agenda—a stretch for the part of me that likes to plan! God was faithful to give me peace in the unknowing, and our partners were so generous with their hospitality and care. My favorite part of the trip was hearing the stories of our brothers and sisters living in Sudan and Uganda.
One day in Uganda, my travel partner, Jane, and I visited a South Sudanese man whom I’d heard of but never met. He told us about the time he and a friend were arrested and imprisoned in Sudan for having Christian materials. He smiled as he recalled their unique opportunity to share the Gospel while in jail.
Sudan allows prisoners to bring their holy books to jail with them, so the two men brought their Bibles and studied them together—loudly, so their fellow inmates could hear. Guards attempted to split them up by putting them in solitary cells. But the men were undaunted, shouting scripture back and forth to each other down a long hallway.
Five inmates decided to follow Jesus through these impromptu Bible studies. Only God knows how many others might now be seeking to know more of Jesus. Eventually, the guards asked the warden to release the two men because they were clearly not criminals.
A South Sudanese pastor joined us midway through the story. When our friend finished talking, the pastor leaned over to us and asked, “But did he tell you how he suffered?”
The pastor went on to share that prisoners didn’t get food, or even water, every day. Cells were completely bare, even lacking toilets. And executions took place every Thursday. No one knew who would be hanged when the guards came that day. This man, who’d so enthusiastically recounted his joy at sharing the Gospel in prison, had suffered greatly while there. It took him two years after his release to heal physically and emotionally from the trauma he’d endured.
What is this friend doing now that he’s experienced God’s healing? He leads trauma care for refugees in East-Central Africa who’ve suffered through difficult circumstances. He looks after orphans and unaccompanied minors. He’s a husband, father and pastor. He’s also in the process of getting his masters degree. In spite of his time in prison (or maybe because of it), our friend continues to faithfully serve God and those in need.