Recently, I was in Egypt talking with a group of Christian leaders from Sudan and South Sudan, and I had the opportunity to speak to two young men from Darfur with Muslim backgrounds. I asked them to share their testimony with me, and although I spoke to them separately, they told almost the exact same story. They said the full story was too long to tell, but they both shared what they considered to be the turning point that started them on the path of conversion to the Christian faith.
Perhaps you have heard about Darfur, a region in western Sudan which has been in a state of crisis for many years. As bad as things have been throughout Sudan, the region of Darfur has perhaps had the most difficult time of all. There has been war, famine, and atrocities of every kind in Darfur. Hundreds of thousands have been killed and millions displaced, living either in refugee camps or as refugees in other countries. Over 2 million refugees from Sudan live in Egypt, though not all are from the Darfur region. The people of Darfur desire to be autonomous, and the Sudanese government has been determined to keep that from happening. This is the background for the stories I heard from the two young men from Darfur.
Crates of Food From Heaven
They told the same story. As children living in a war-torn region, the greatest problem was not bullets or bombs, but having enough food to stay alive. The war made food scarce, but the greater problem was the government would poison the little food they did have. Many were starving because they knew if they ate the food from their fields, they would die from the poison. Their stories explained how they would see crates of food floating down from the heavens amidst this crisis. Humanitarian aid would drop from airplanes to provide food and supplies for the people of Darfur to survive.
Both young men asked their parents where the food came from. Though various nations provided humanitarian relief through the U.N., in these cases, the relief came from the U.S. These young men were not only grateful for the food, but determined that:
They wanted to be like those who would help the needy
rather than those poisoning the food of the starving.
They associated the U.S. with Christianity, and began to desire to know more about Jesus and what it meant to follow Him. It was not an immediate conversion, but there was something implanted in their hearts that not only opened them to exploring the Christian faith, but made it desirable as well. They both had more steps involved in the story of their conversion, but the beginning of their journey was, “crates of food from the heavens.”
A Cup of Cold Water
Jesus said, “A cup of cold water given in my name is blessed,” and “when you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.” The glory of God is revealed as we live out the Gospel, and salvation comes as people hear the Gospel's truth.