I spent the past few days in a refugee camp in South Sudan.
Personally witnessing the hurt that daily accompanies these people felt nightmarishly surreal.
Distinguishing between cultural preference and poverty is difficult in any developing country you visit, but the hardest part for me was seeing the anguish and turmoil that these people felt.
Everywhere you turn, kids run wild, clothes tattered and worn, toothy smiles beaming in the desert heat. Tents stretch down miles and miles of campsite, people crawling in and out of their makeshift domiciles like ants, quickly realizing that their lives now consist of sitting and waiting and hoping for an indefinite amount of time.
War-torn peoples are hurting peoples; you see it in their eyes, the canyons of wrinkles lining their faces, telling wordless stories of lives lived for a painfully greater purpose.
And yet, they’re filled with quiet strength in the midst of their suffering.
Pastor Morris has a church in the camp, a beacon of hope surrounded by deep despair.
I remember spending some time listening to his story and hearing about his life, and something struck me as he poured out parts of himself on camera.
He detailed a story about how his daughter was recently beat by a random man to the point that she needed to be hospitalized. His response struck me with power as he uttered the most profound, convicting, heart-altering sentence: “I went to the jail where they were holding him, and I paid his bail and forgave him.”
That, my friends, is a strength that can’t be conjured up by mere human emotion or sheer willpower.
These people are some of the most obedient, faithful, dependently joyful beings I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
I’m glad to be able to call them brothers, people who have walked the harrowing streets in this city of life, tilted askew by our soul rebellion, where night is dark with sorrow and day is grim with forsaken memories of aimless wandering.
Be strong and courageous brothers, for the weight of what’s to come is much, much greater than either of us can perceive.
This is the war of joy.