I saw Joseph Madoul walking into church last night, and I gave him a big hug. There are some people for which small talk is impossible. Joseph is one of them...
His dad was killed before his eyes. Last month his uncle was crowned by President Bush as the first President of Sudan. His other uncle was one of the most famous Sudanese political leaders. Last year that uncle was assassinated. Joseph is good friends with Manute Bol. As a 12 year old, Joseph led a group of 115 children on a walk across Sudan. Only 60 survived.
We walked over to a map and I asked him, "How far did you walk again?" He pointed to the middle of Sudan, moved his finger down to Kenya, over to Ethiopia, back through Kenya to Uganda, to Sudan, and finally to Kenya. About 2,ooo miles. It took 3 years.
At age 12, he was the oldest of the wandering children. He provided food for everyone by hunting birds and eating leaves off of trees. He watched children die of starvation. Others he watched get torn apart by alligators while crossing rivers. He described the gruesome scene. They were attacked countless times by lions. In all, he saw over 55 children die on this journey for freedom.
He carried an AK-47, but rarely used it. They hid during the day and traveled at night. He didn't want to give away their location to the enemy. The one time he shot an attacking lion, the enemy heard the gun shots. His leg is scarred over with gun shot wounds and shrapnel from the mistake. He said being attacked by a lion is better than being attacked by men.
His life experience is surreal.
He has a different view of life and death. A modern Sudanese holocaust survivor, Joseph told me that God watched over them. He wants to get back to Sudan to help more people.
These conversations with Joseph always have a way of bringing perspective. God help me to make the most of this brief existence here on earth. Be with our brothers and sisters in Sudan and thwart the plans of the wicked, while defending the cause of the fatherless and widow.