By Matt Chancey Recently, I traveled near the Southern Darfur border to inspect a new clinic PPF supports. A shipment of medicine supplied by Voice of the Martyrs was scheduled to arrive any time, and our team notified clinics in the area of the impending shipment.
While our team visited the clinic, a Toyota Land Cruiser blew past our position, headed North. "Hey! That's Billy White," shouted PPF President Brad Phillips. "He must not have seen us. Go after him!" I ran to the motorcycle I had borrowed and took off through the bush to catch him. It took a few minutes, but I finally managed to flag him down. And that's when I met the famous Brother Billy White.
I had heard of Billy White but never met him. Billy is one of those amazing characters one often finds in remote corners of the world.
Brother Billy is 76 years young and has been living and working in South Sudan since 2004. When his wife died in 2003, Brother Billy knew what God wanted him to do next. He had read about the plight of Christians in Southern Sudan through publications like Soldier of Fortune magazine and several Christian mission groups.
So Billy White, who is a retired Green Beret from the Army's Special Forces, packed his gear and took off for his next deployment. When he arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, he had no relationship with anyone from South Sudan. But that did not stop Brother Billy. Within a few months, he was in Southern Sudan, organizing an adult literacy program sponsored by the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army.
In addition to his work training people to read, Brother Billy has supported the establishment of several medical clinics in the "no go" areas where PPF has worked for years.
Brother Billy is as fit as a fiddle and has an iron grip that will pull your shoulder out of its socket if you're not careful. "I exercise every other day - or I can't move," quips Billy, who always wears a big Texas grin.
I was amazed at how Brother Billy could live and travel alone so easily in a place with few roads and absolutely no road signs. Billy lives very modestly in a dirt floor tukel like most of the people he serves. His reputation and legend have won him the respect and cooperation of the local government.
"Southern Sudan is a lot like my home state of Texas," says Billy. "It's hot and flat; it has many rivers running through it; lots of cattle; and it's full of friendly people (mostly armed)."
Brother Billy is a devout Christian who has focused much of his energy into training pastors how to read and study the Word of God. "When I started my first class, the pastors wanted to know if I would feed them lunch every day. I told them 'Nope. If you are not hungry for the Word of God, you don't belong here.'"
When the history of Africa's newest country is written, I hope the author saves some room to record the exploits and adventures of Brother Billy White. It is people like this old soldier from Texas who not only make great ambassadors of America, but great ambassadors of Jesus Christ.
"I tell people when I go back home to America that it's great to live in a country where the Bible is openly quoted by elected officials, taught in schools and the military, and public prayer is not only encouraged, it is expected of all who desire leadership. That country is South Sudan." - Brother Billy White