By Peter Majak Garang
I was as young as seven years old when the 2nd and the longest Civil war broke out in the Sudan 1983. The effects of the war were felt by all people without sparing children. The environment was not allowing normal running of social activities such as schools, hospitals, churches to mention few of which some became a target of air and ground attacks. As a result, they were forcefully closed down: making teachers, health workers, farmers etc to vacating or deserting their posts or professions and joined the struggle or the movement for independent (“SPLA/SPLM”), which was based in Ethiopia (1983-1991).
Few years later, I left my village after the living condition as well as security situation in my village deteriorated, making it hard for everybody including children to survive. The journey took me thousands of miles/km, trekking from Sudan to Ethiopia and then to Sudan and finally to Kenya, hoping to get safe environments which would guarantee security and access to basic needs. Formal education was not dropped from the needs but was a last priority.
I was not a Christian and I knew nothing about Christianity. Spirituality was not a vocabulary. However, during the Xmas of 1988, I came to understand Christianity as a religion because on that day, I saw Christians marching on the streets of Fugnido Refugee Camp singing and praising God. I got admired and followed them until they reached a big tree, which they called “a church”. The Christians finally stopped under the tree and worshiped for an hour before they dispersed homes. I was moved by the songs, and the worshiping. And on the following Sunday, I was baptized with the name “Peter”.
From that day, I became a devoted Christian and had been attending church services on every Sunday. My regular Sunday services are important and usually remind me about the spirituality. During the war, spirituality helped and guided me in understanding what was right and wrong in my life during the toughest times when father and mother were not there with me. Making decision was not easy but because of spirituality, I always prayed and asked God to guide me in decisions making. I remember one accusation, I made a risk decision of crossing River Gilo by swimming when forces from Ethiopia attacked our camp; forcing us to leave Ethiopia. Before I jumped into the river, believe to be full of crocodiles, I prayed to God, asking HIM to send me HIS angels & spirit to guide me while crossing the river. In few minutes, I was on the other side of River Gilo safely.
Peter Majak Garang,
A member of Lost Boys Groups,
Bor, South Sudan
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