Thursday, October 02, 2008

Stephen's story

Stephen and friend at the zoo

It has been such a privilege to have Stephen in our home, although it seems strange that Candyce isn't here. Stephen has been to the Portland zoo, the Hawthorne district, Multnomah Bible College, Multnomah Falls--and even downtown Boring!

He's kind of quiet, with a gentle sense of humor, and seems at ease with us. We've spoken of many things--the difference between the church in Africa and the church in the US; the things God has taught him on this trip; how he came to be a follower of Christ. He says in Sudan, anyone born into a Christian family is considered "Christian," but not necessarily a believer (Stephen's father, for instance, considered himself a Christian but not a believer).

He is fluent in two languages--his native tongue and arabic. He's got a pretty good handle on English, too. He shared his testimony with a small group of interested folks last night, and it was quite moving. Here are the highlights:

Stephen grew up in south Sudan and spent a good part of his early years fleeing from the "rebels" who raided his village on a regular basis, shooting and raping and bombing and burning everything in their path. He said his family would hide in the jungle for days at a time until they felt it was safe to go home. Many of Stephen's friends and family were killed during these raids.

When Stephen was 16, his dad decided to move the family to Khartoum. It was safer there. Stephen's dad joined the military while the rest of the family found lodging with an uncle in Khartoum. When Stephen was just 18, his father was shot and killed. Not by rebels or in battle--but by a neighbor who wanted the family's goat!

Stephen was not a believer then and vowed to avenge his father's murder by killing the neighbor. He started going to church in Khartoum around this time but was so filled with bitterness, he knew he couldn't truly follow Jesus. But God kept working on his heart and Stephen was finally able to forgive the man who shot his father. He became a follower of Christ and has been used by God as a peacemaker ever since. Today, his main ministry with YWAM is a ministry of reconciliation.

We are taking Stephen to the YWAM base in Salem today, where he'll hang out until Candyce returns. We look forward to him returning to our home.

Oh, by the way, we decided not to attempt the 3 Fingered Jack climb this weekend because of windy, rainy weather. All that training and no place to climb . . .

Stephen and Scout at Multnomah Falls. Stephen really doesn't care for dogs, but he posed gamely for this photo. Scout's not sure what she thinks of Stephen, either.