Press play for peace
How an audio player loaded with Bible stories changed the life of Sadia after she fled the fighting in South Sudan
Fleeing fighting in South Sudan, Sadia (not her real name) found herself abandoned and alone as a refugee. Then a message of hope came from an unexpected source…
As she walked towards the Ugandan border, Sadia tried to push away the dark thoughts in her head: memories of how her husband had suddenly and coldly left her and their three children. Of how the seemingly endless tribal fighting in South Sudan had left her without a home and tore her family apart. She winced as she thought of her brothers, who had stepped in to help her when her husband left – but who took off with their families as the fighting got closer. It felt like another betrayal of her trust. It still stung.
Sadia still had her children, yet she felt starkly alone.
At last they crossed the border and were taken to a refugee camp. It was noisy: so many people, some arguing, some shouting. They were safer but food, clothing and medication was all strictly rationed or not available.
Journey through despair…
The lack of peace in the camp matched the restlessness inside Sadia. She could feel herself becoming more and more bitter towards everyone who’d abandoned her. As her spirits sank further, Sadia turned to alcohol. She struggled to care for her children. “Perhaps they would be better off without me,” she thought to herself.
Then one day, someone handed her a small object. “What’s this?” she wondered. Looking closer, she saw it had a speaker and buttons for playing, rewinding and fast forwarding. She pressed play.
A voice emanated from the device and started telling a story. The main character was a man called Joseph, who from a young age was mistreated horribly by his brothers. Then abandoned. “Sounds familiar,” she thought.
Yet, Joseph was able to find hope and a purpose. As the story went on, great things happened for Joseph, but the wound of his brothers’ rejection stayed with him. One day he was given a chance to take revenge upon his brothers, but he refused and forgave them.
… to hope and purpose
The noise around Sadia seemed to fade as she thought about Joseph’s words to his brothers: “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive…”
Sadia decided to find out where the little audio player came from. That’s how she met Sam Malish, a CMS local partner from Yei, who is trying to help people in displaced persons camps heal from suffering. He invited her to a small gathering where people were encouraged to share about difficult things that had happened to them. Sadia wasn’t quite sure why, but it made her feel better to talk and listen to other people’s experiences. She felt less alone.
She also learned more about Jesus, who suffered horribly and forgave. It was amazing to consider that kind of love. As she prayed and turned to Jesus more, she could feel hope and peace growing within her. It was like Jesus was carrying her pain, lightening her burdens. She could focus again on her children, who were relieved to have their mother caring for them again.
Others around her could see her changing. “You’re looking better, Sadia,” someone said to her.
“Jesus gave me peace and hope,” she replied. “This can happen for you, too.”
Update: a growing community of Jesus-followers
It’s not like circumstances have changed very much for Sadia. The camp is still crowded, still noisy, still not a home. Yet, thanks to Sam’s creative idea to circulate audio players with messages of hope and peace, Sadia is refusing to give in to despair. And she is helping other single mothers do likewise.
A community of Jesus-followers in an extremely tough place. Through your gifts you’ve joined with Jesus and helped create this pocket of peace against a backdrop of violence. Together we are bringing good from evil. Thank you.