Friday, December 7, 2007
I had a good night sleep. I was up at 5:30am. I started my morning ritual
at 6:15am. It was still dark outside. Then, as I was into my exercise,
the sun appeared – a brilliant orange/red, an awesome sight. My
ritual lasted 1 hour and 17minutes.
At the breakfast table, Mr. D. joined us. We continued where we left
off the night before. He still talked passionately about Sudan as the
vanguard nation, leading other African nations to consciousness and
true freedom. We discussed ownership of oil wells and other resources.
He said, “There should be a fair negotiated settlement which takes
into account all that the foreign countries have already reaped and
the imperative for the resources to be used to rebuild Sudan. There
should be ampler opportunities for foreign nations to invest, but the
ownership should be in the countries that are blessed to have the resources
within its boundaries.”
We returned to the subject of Darfur. Again, he emphasized the importance
of unity and having a coalition. We were joined by a South African male
and female. The male, a doctor, had been active in the anti-apartheid
movement. We knew many of the same people.
Our first stop for the day was the Parliament. It was a simple two-story
building. Inside was bare and clean. There were offices along the corridors
with titles and names, i.e. chairman so and so. We were guided into
a typical hearing room, where the forum would be held. Mr. D. met us
and introduced us to the members of the panel. Only about 30 people
sat in the audience. There was no printed program.
I was asked to do the invocation. Then the four panelists spoke. Fighting
sleep, I couldn’t follow their speeches, plus they spoke softly
and with heavy accents. All together they wore me down. I managed to
stay awake by writing notes on my lecture that I would deliver to the
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by the monument dedicated to
John Garange. It wasn’t imposing, but what would one expect. It
was just a corridor with white columns along each side. In the center
was a crypt with his picture on the side. We paused for a moment. I
did a brief recounting of the life and time of John Garange for our
Some where between leaving the Parliament and arriving at the hotel,
I asked Yahya to elaborate further on the USA’s involvement in
Sudan. He said the USA’s leadership was working hard to implement
the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Why it was so important for
the USA, I didn’t ask. Later, I regretted that I did not do so.
After we returned to the hotel, around 5pm, Mr. T., with four other
persons, came by to see us. Mr. T. and I became very friendly on my
first visit to Chad. He was a leader in the Justice Equality Movement
(J.E.M.). Subsequently, he broke with JEM and started his own organization.
He was very disturbed that he had not been informed of my visit. He
said he didn’t know I was here. He learned it from a casual conversation.
He was very excited to see me. He said he had another appointment and
had to leave soon, but he wanted to come back and explain the position
of the five organizations, including his own, which did not sign the
Unity Agreement. As before stated, there were 17 Darfurian organizations
at the meeting in Juba. Twelve were in agreement and renamed themselves
the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army. It was the original name under which
all the resistance efforts were gathered. Later, they began to splinter,
till they reached the present number of 17. Mr. T. said the five had
formed a coalition named the United Resistance Movement (URF). The main
reason that they could not agree at that time was because they had to
report back to their people. Once they had done that, they would make
their decision. It should be done within a couple of weeks.
As Mr. T. was explaining his position, Yahya appeared. He seemed surprised
to see us together. Mr. T. wanted to know why he was not informed that
I was in the country. Yahya explained he had been very busy day and
night. The two men rehearsed their differences with me, of which I do
not think would be wise for me to discuss in this article. They both
agreed they were not enemies. They were still united in their quest
for freedom. The two men departed together.
At 9:30pm, Sharon and Yahya came to my room. We talked till 11:15pm.
Much of what we discussed must be kept private. Yahya rehearsed the
history of his involvement in the movement. He said, “When we
were younger, we could see no difference. The government told us we
were all the same. The Arabs were the minority and they controlled everything.
But, they said, everything was alright. When we went to college, our
observations and questions became more intense and the government less
believable. So, we organized protests. My bother was killed as he challenged
the government. And I had to leave the country.” His family, who
has huge holdings in Sudan, has been and is being harassed. Hence, that’s
how the resistance movement began.
All during our conversation, Yahya was seated slumped in a black chair
in the small sitting area in my suite. At times, his eyes seemed to
close. His head was in his hands most of the time. It was obvious, he
was a tired man. Finally, he said, “When I leave here I will stop
by Mr. D’s room. Then I will return to the discussion with the
Darfurian leaders. We will probably be at it all night.” I said,
“Well, I guess that’s it. Take care. I’ll see you
tomorrow. Oh, by the way, did you hear from the President?” “No,
I will check on it tomorrow,” he said. Laboriously, he arose from
his seat. Slowly he walked out of the glass doors to resume history
in the African night.
I returned to bed pondering the meaning of this moment. I understood
why Mr. D was so confident about Sudan being the epicenter of Africa.
There is a plan for Sudan. Again, I wondered what role I would play
in all of this.
I thought about a very interesting development early in the day. As
Sharon and I stood in the courtyard of the hotel, two women approached
us. One was motioning to her body and saying something about prayer.
We beckoned an interpreter to help us. He said, “She wants you
to pray for her. She is pregnant. She has already lost two sons. She
wants you to come to her room and pray for her and her husband.”
Surprised and humble, I looked at Sharon with questions written across
my face, but at the same time moving with the women toward her room.
As we were walking away, a man approached Sharon. He wanted something
Sharon had promised him. She said, “When we return.”
We went to the woman’s room. Her husband was lying across the
bed. She told him I was a priest and we had come to pray for them. He
immediately arose. We joined hands. I prayed and laid hands on them.
They were profuse in their gratitude. When we returned to our starting
point, Sharon went into her room and returned with a bottle of Pepto
Bismol, which she gave to the man. He kept shaking his head and saying,
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I turned to Sharon and asked, “Well, what does it all mean? Here
we are in the midst of powerful people, deep in intrigue and planning.
It may be, the future of Africa, and maybe the Continent, indeed, maybe
the world, hangs in the balance and we have been approached to provide
healing at a profoundly personal level – to address individual
needs in different places, to different nationalities and to different
First a white woman on the plane, as we traveled from Addis Ababa to
Juba. We prayed for her and Sharon gave her money. But before, even
when we were in distress regarding our inability to get on the plane,
we comforted and helped and Indian man. He too was denied entrance on
the plane, something about his VISA being copied. Even after we had
helped to solve his problem and were on the plane, he found Sharon to
ask her for assistance with the telephone.
Now, we were in Juba at our hotel minding our business, and people came
to us for help. In addition to what I have already mentioned, she (Sharon)
gave the South African sister, who had become ill, her malaria pills.
I wondered what it all meant. Was God sending us a message, confirming
or validating our 50 years of ministry, that there should be no compartmentalization
in our ministry or in the gospel we preach? Was God confirming that
He had called me to preach the good news of His love through Jesus Christ
– good news which addresses nations, institutions, systems and
individuals whoever they are and wherever they are?
To be continued…
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