In January 2009, thirteen of us from all over the United States (including 6 women from Jesus Metropolitan Community Church) embarked on a journey that has changed how we view our responsibilities as citizens of this globe. We had the opportunity to travel to the South Sudan and meet with some brave and resilient people. We traveled to stand in solidarity with them, to learn about their struggles, and to start to determine how we might best work together with them to reach their goals for their homeland.
For the next several days some of us who made that trip will be speaking about our experiences in this Be Still and Know forum. We hope that you will take something away from these writings that will inspire you to remember our Sudanese friends in their desperate situations. Somehow, some way, we must all learn how to live simply so that these friends may simply live.
As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.
My thoughts (Melody Merida):
A few days ago several of us who went to Sudan were involved with a presentation of our experiences. We were asked how the people of Sudan could look so happy in all the photos we had showed, if they were truly suffering in poverty and injustice as we had stated. You see, so many of the photos in this presentation were of beautiful African children and women who were smiling ear to ear. So, it’s reasonable to believe they must be happy in their current situation, right? That couldn’t be more wrong. Those smiles speak of something much deeper than just surface happiness.
Women from Nimule (Nim-uh-lay) greet us dressed in their very best.
Many of the people in Sudan understand something that we in prosperous America don’t. They understand how to adapt. They understand how to persevere. They understand how to claim the joy of Jesus even in the face of immense suffering. They understand that contentment isn’t found in accumulating things but in recognizing the significance of God in their everyday lives. So they can smile that big, beautiful, heart-felt grin because they have an understanding that many of us just cannot comprehend.
Melody with new friends.
Upon returning home to America, the land of opportunity, some folks have asked me what we were able to do for the people of Sudan. I think that’s the wrong question. Instead, the people of Sudan did so much for me. I’ve seen their suffering; but bigger and bolder than their suffering is their perseverance and strength. My friends on the other side of the globe know how to dig deep and find refuge in Jesus in a way that transcends understanding and brings them joy. That joy comes from the place of which Psalm 4 speaks. We have so much to learn from their example.
Thought for the day: God, enable me to see the awesome depths of your abundant joy. Make me a witness to your peace even in painful suffering. Amen.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.