The Lost Boys of Sudan
edited: Sunday, February 17, 2002
By Timothy P. Buchanan
Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2002
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Facing Death with Faith
The sign in front of First Wesleyan Church of Roanoke read simply “The Lost Boys.” Oh, great, I thought to myself, mildly disappointed at the prospect of another special program that would surely postpone for one more week, the profound and insightful spiritual message that I have come to expect from Pastor Lupton.
After greeting the greeters and a few friends who always assist them at the rear of the sanctuary, my wife, Glenda, and I proceeded to our seats in the fifth row. Ahead of us, twelve tall, thin, young men filed into the first two rows. Suddenly, it occurred to me who they were and where I had seen them. They are refugees from the bloody civil war in Sudan and I had seen them on a recent edition of the CBS program, 60 Minutes II.
Midway into the service, Pastor Lupton introduced former pastor, Wayne Wingfield, who brought the Lost Boys before the congregation. The Lost Boys sang two songs of praise with flawless harmony—one in their native language and one in English. Then, Pastor Wingfield asked the boys to introduce themselves. Each has a biblical name. The young men, ages 17 to 25, returned to their seats in the first two pews, except for one called Peter.
Peter’s accent was heavy and strange, and the congregation leaned forward listening intently as he began to describe the events that brought him to America and to our small church. Peter was trained in Egypt as an attorney. When he returned to his small town in southern Sudan, prepared to practice law, he was arrested by the Muslim-controlled government because he is a Christian.
His captors offered Peter money and a house if only he would convert to Islam. Peter said, “I say to them that I don’t want to be Muslim because I love Jesus. If I have to die, I gonna die a Christian.” In prison, Peter said, the inmates are forced to pray to Allah. But he refused. The penalty for refusing to renounce Christianity and convert to Islam, he said, is confinement to isolation, followed by dismemberment as an example to other prisoners and eventually, execution.
Knowing his immediate future, Peter and many other Christian captives, planned to escape when they were taken out to work the farms of the Muslim military officers. Seeing an opening, the prisoners ran. Several were shot in the back by army soldiers—two dropped dead at Peter’s side, but he got away. For seven days, Peter walked along with other survivors, without food or water, finally arriving at a refugee camp in Kenya.
Two of Peter’s brothers and his father were killed by Muslims. His mother, one brother, and his wife are among the missing. He doesn’t know whether they are alive or dead. The other Lost Boys have similar stories. They are being resettled in the United States, with the help of churches throughout the country. Most of them want only an education and the opportunity to return to Sudan to find and help those they left behind.
Over two million Sudanese people—most of them Christians—have been butchered or murdered, and thousands more have been sold into slavery by the Muslim government. Since the war began, Christian ministries and human rights organizations have tried to persuade the U.S government to stop the carnage, without much effect. Sudan lacks the strategic importance to U.S. interests that motivated our involvement in the Balkans where the death toll was only a fraction of that in Sudan.
While hostility toward Christians certainly thrives in America today, it is usually limited to bellicose rhetoric or hyperbolic ridicule, with the battles being waged primarily in the court system and in the media. The haters of God in America don’t usually seek to kill us.
Since hearing Peter’s tragic story, I have wondered what I would have done in his position. Would I be able to bear to watch as my family was murdered? Would I refuse to renounce my faith in order to save my own skin? I can’t be sure. Can you?
To learn more about the Lost Boys of Sudan and how you can help them, call toll-free (800) 647-6493 or visit: