By Matt Chancey
Thinking about Thanksgiving Day brought to my mind many ways God has provided for His people all over the world. In particular, God recalled to my memory the story of PPF partner pastor, Francis Ayul Nyok….
Lying on the ground bleeding to death is not a circumstance most conducive to making one give thanksgiving to God. The severe pain and thirst makes many people in such a circumstance not praise God, but start to bargain with Him. That’s exactly what Francis Ayul Nyok did as he lay dying of a gunshot wound to his belly somewhere in the bush of Southern Sudan.
He was a young soldier in the SPLA fighting for self-determination for his people. For years, his family had been hunted down and butchered by their Islamic masters in the north. Now, they were fighting for their lives and futures. But Francis’ fight was over – so he thought. In one hand, he held his guts, and in the other, his machine gun. He had only two bullets left, and kept arguing with himself that using one of the bullets to put him out of his misery would be the best way to relieve the agony.
But Francis didn’t know what awaited him on the other side of the veil. He had been raised in the church, but had given little serious thought to his faith. He was too busy being young and invincible, living the life of adventure. But now, the prospect of dying terrified him. So, he made a “deal” with God. If God would spare him, he would leave the army of men and join the army of God as a minister.
To make a long story short, several months later (and multiple surgeries), Francis was out of the army and preparing for the ministry. He went to seminary, received his ordination, and now pastors several churches.
But if you think this is a story of a self-made man, you are mistaken. God used means to accomplish His ends with Francis, like He does with everyone. And those means were believers like you. If you are reading this, you are one of the means God has used to make Francis Ayul Nyok into God’s bondservant in Sudan.
Francis is doing what he’s doing today, because the people of God looked at all the problems in Sudan and decided to give God glory through their prayers and giving – even though it looked like a hopeless condition. The whole country was bleeding to death, like Francis, but God sent you and many others to help bind their wounds.
I am so thankful for your great hearts, but I am more thankful to the God Who gave you your great hearts. I encourage you to not grow weary in your well-doing. You are making a difference. Pastor Francis Ayol Nyok is living proof of this. Praise God there are many others like him.
As we face an uncertain future, we can nonetheless willingly and joyfully give thanksgiving to our God, Who has always been faithful to us, even when we have forgotten Him. Praise the LORD!