By Brad Phillips
In 2003, I was hiking through the Nuba mountains of Sudan. Each village I’d pass would have its own story of hardship and persecution regarding the long-running conflict in which Sudan’s Islamist government tried to exterminate the Nuba people using terror and food and medicine as weapons.
But the village of Badura stood out from the rest.
Badura was home to a young woman named Leah. I found Leah and her 5-year-old daughter planting seeds in their garden. They stopped working and came over to speak with me.
Leah told of how, in 1999 during a Sunday church service, Badura was attacked by the “Popular Defense Forces” (PDF) of the National Islamic Front government in Sudan.
The troops poured into Badura and everyone fled for their lives— except Leah.
You see, Leah was blind.
She was captured immediately. The men brutally beat and gang-raped this helpless girl, then left her for dead.
But Leah didn’t die. A few weeks later, she discovered she was with child.
Eight months later, her daughter was born. She named her Susan, which means “Graceful Lily”.
Leah told me that “what men meant for evil, God meant for good,” because Susan had been the eyes to help her mom live in very difficult circumstances.
Through the years, I often wondered whatever happened to Leah and Susan. Then recently, I was in a village close to Badura. I was informed by a local pastor that Leah and Susan were still living and would like to visit again.
At the home of the pastor, I found Leah sitting with Susan (now a beautiful 18-year-old young woman) and it was an amazing reunion. Leah was still very small, as I remembered her. And she told me of how God had provided for her and Susan over all these years and hardships.
I brought some gifts for Leah and Susan, including clothes, shoes, cooking pots, soap, salt, blankets, etc. But the gift she most appreciated was a small solar-powered audio-Bible in Arabic and English.
Leah was overwhelmed with so many gifts that she told me she would share and distribute them to her community.
I don’t know about you, but I think Leah has as good an excuse for being miserable as anyone I’ve ever known. Growing up in a warzone. Beaten and gang-raped as a child. Pregnant as a result of the rape. Raising a child alone— blind. I mean, this women ticks all the boxes!
But not only is Leah not miserable— she’s a joyful giver!
Our meeting took place right before Thanksgiving holidays. It gave me something to be very thankful about— and not that I won the "lottery of life" by being born in America to two loving parents and raised with every advantage compared to someone like Leah.
Rather, it gave me cause to be thankful for the honor and privilege of being in a spiritual family with giants like Leah and Susan.
But I am also grateful for you. Without God working through the generous support of the people reading these lines, I would never have met Leah in the first place and received (more than given) such encouragement.
Thank you! Thank you for supporting this ministry to the persecuted. It’s truly a ministry where the “givers” are blessed much more than the receivers. Leah proves this.