~ Willa Cather
What a fitting quote for a box of tea bags! It has more meaningful application for God's Kingdom, despite the fact that the New World to come is not yet complete and things in our present world are really heating up! Living with eternity in view is essential in order to be a faithful "witness" of Christ. The word comes from the Greek martur or martyr.
Jacob Deng is thankful to be alive and eager to witness. "God is number One in my life. He changed my life!" was part of his jubilant testimony, March 21, 2014, on 100 Huntley Street. Four years after the brutal civil war erupted in South Sudan in 1983, soldiers from the north reached Jacob's village and slaughtered his family. After a harrowing escape, the seven-year-old joined "a walking centipede" of 20,000 orphans on a desperate march. Known universally as the Lost Boys of Sudan, only 4,000 survived crocodiles, snakes, lions, disease, starvation, bombs and bullets.
Jacob had no home and no rest for 15 years, until the Canadian Government Refugees Resettlement Program brought him to Nova Scotia in 2003, where he lives with his wife and three children. The long journey through three African countries and two refugee camps created in him the desire to be a vehicle of hope for former refugees and child soldiers who have returned to their villages.
Jacob knows that hunger and homelessness destroys families. Wadeng Wings of Hope, the ministry he founded, is building education and training centres, providing tools for income generating—like sewing machines, goats, vegetable gardens and wells. His "opportunity organization" also provides vocational and skills training and business entrepreneurship.
How does this bright outlook emerge from so much hardship and loss?
Jacob's father valued education. He knew that his son was captivated by the soldier's life, but wanted Jacob to be a peacemaker. The horrendous ordeal helped bring Jacob to the realization that an AK47 was not the most effective weapon against evil. When his father died, Jacob's mother told him, "God is your Father." She planted optimism in his heart;
"Wadeng" means "Look with hope to the future. Tomorrow will be better."
This word kept hope alive and fueled perseverance for Jacob's arduous trek to safety.
At the 39th Toronto International Film Festival, September 4-14, 2014, The Good Lie premiered. Actress Reese Witherspoon stars as a woman who takes under her wing four refugees from the Sudanese Civil War. Geoff Tunnicliffe, former General Secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance, called it "a gift from Hollywood," highlighting "courage, sacrifice…and how one person can make a difference."
For over 37 years, that has been the potential and privilege of our daily platform on 100 Huntley Street, as we showcase the faith stories of those who have trusted God in every kind of challenge and found Him to be all He promised. Hearts are strengthened, faith enriched, choices influenced, and the Kingdom of God advanced as a result.
These are "days of great trial, of famine and darkness and sword" as Robin Mark penned after watching a distressing world newscast in 1994. But the big picture is bright and eternal! As we approach a glorious future with our King, we must do all we can to be vessels of the God of Hope, pointing people to the Saviour, and encouraging one another in our increasingly challenging journey (Hebrews 10:25).
At the end of our interview, a beaming Jacob said,
"Thank you for the amazing work you are doing. We have to keep this flame burning. We have to bring the stories of human disaster and tragedy to prevent them, because if we shy away from it, the bad people and the bad things will run our world, and we don't want that."
I praise God for the dedicated team that makes 100 Huntley Street a beacon of truth and hope with the message of Jesus Christ and the witness of His transformational love and overcoming power.
Thank YOU for being "dissolved into something complete and great"!
Why not grab a cup of tea, and watch my interview with Jacob at 100huntley.com.