Private Calvarys

Private Calvarys

The attack came like the horrifying pounce of a lion, splintering families as they ran for their lives. Children fled in the dark. Mothers wept in confusion, and fathers raged in anger. Torn from each other, their agony mirrored the slave-trade tragedy of long ago. The government-sponsored army from the north wanted all the boys from the south.

That is, they wanted them dead.

Those boys had been happy children, tending cows and goats. Life offered them the warm embrace of family, culture, and faith in a loving God. But tranquility was ripped away in a moment of terror.

boys walking

So began the great migration of the Sudanese Lost Boys.

27,000 boys—many very young—traveled over a thousand miles to Ethiopia for refuge. Unwanted there, they continued south to Kenya. Along the way, half died from starvation, predators, and their own government’s bombs.

Unimaginable, unthinkable, appalling—no single word fully captures a story of persecution against children.

Soon the rest of the world woke up and responded to their plight. Relief organizations brought food, clothing, and medicine, but those things met only their basic needs.

boys sittingThe boys formed family units, older ones caring for several younger ones. Natural leaders created a sense of community. Together they sang again and sometimes danced. They held “parliament” on the days when their food supply ran out, telling stories to distract each other from the hunger pains. And amazingly, no Lord-of-the-Flies chaos mounted in their makeshift village. You see, they knew the Lord of the universe.

Ten years passed and some of the twenty-something Lost Boys were given a chance to go to America. Leaving their Boys’ Town was incredibly painful, but the opportunity offered hope beyond subsistence.Sudanese man with girls

The boys, now men, boarded aircrafts for the first time. Pats of butter looked like small bars of soap. They drank packets of salad dressing straight up. Airplane food seemed very strange. In western airports, they were wary of moving escalators. In American sponsored apartments, they flicked light switches on and off repeatedly, and discovered the wonder of ice cubes.

Yet, for its varied “blessings,” America over-stimulated and exhausted them. The culture change was too great a leap, and the ache for familiarity became a new kind of anguish.

Some of the boys got lost in our jungles, pulled into the decadence of bling, gangs, drugs, and immorality. Yet others followed Jesus and persevered without kin or the kindness of home.

They could’ve been indoctrinated in the spirit of victimization. Self-pity is a contagious thing in wealthier countries. After all, life had handed them a bruising blow. But like Joseph of old who landed in an Egyptian prison, they believed what humans meant for evil, God could turn to good. They felt a duty, (though I’d call it love) to use their new life in America to rescue other Lost Boys. Through Internet searches and relief agency networks, some found their families. Others worked three jobs at a time and even pursued an education, though nothing came easily.

In time, some sort of peace returned. You could see it on their faces. No more darting glances or twisted brows. Their long tall torsos remained straight with resolve. A quiet trust anchored them to a sovereign God and formed something of His glory in their lives, something that ordinary circumstances wouldn’t have produced in the same way.

The beauty in their sacrifice for each other surpassed their tragedy.

I’d been watching a documentary on the Lost Boys called, God Grew Tired of Us. Near the end, I had to look away from the screen. Tears blurred my vision, because that type of love is so rare.

Blue planet earthGod has allowed our glorious blue planet to also be the scene of great suffering. One day for each person, that time of earthly torment will be over. God has new territory for those who believe—a place without tears, sorrow, pain or death. And, we will be restored to our loved ones, because He has the happy ending in hand.

In the meantime, His eyes search throughout the earth to find that rare beauty, that fragrant remnant of His son’s life on earth.

We don’t know what will happen to us here. But we have a choice in how to respond. We can yell, stomp, and even shake our fists at God. Or like some of the Lost Boys, we can be fruitful in the land of our suffering, overcoming with faith in the circumstances of our private Calvarys.

What will you do with your private Calvary?

As told in the award-winning documentary, God Grew Tired of Us.


  1. Nicola Jane Soen :

    I would not say God allowed it, totally-certainly not in the original plan!! We chose it by choosing separation from God and choosing knowledge with out His guidance and wisdom for ourselves. God had no say in the matter. His say, was then to send His son to die so that it could all be redeemed and to end death and the rule of the evil we have chosen-living without Him. He allows it now, because it is not yet the end. Actually, it is because of His mercy. He wants all to have the chance to choose to find their way back to Him. And because, for some reason that I really hate and do not understand, Satan is given time to work out his plans until God says ENOUGH. For me, my life has been full of suffering, firstly done to me and then done by myself, (although others have gone through more horrors than I can imagine) and I am learning to trust God for His redemption here, as He does when we allow him too. Amazingly we can have redemption here, we don’t have to wait for the whole bundle right now though I would like it better if it all came at once!! So I am SO glad He has waited. I would be one of the ones lost and doomed if He was not so patient, kind and persevering. By the same coin, I do not understand why He puts up with all the pain and suffering, and in that way, yes, He does allow it. He also uses it. To shape us, to allow us the privilege-and the horror -yes horror of becoming like His son. I say, that for me it is horror because I loved sin. I prefer my rubbish to His asking me to crucify it with His son. The I of me still does exactly what Adam and Eve did-wants to go my own way without Him. Thankfully His response is to wait and to call me and to show me His way is better, freer and built on love and life not lies and death-and as I see more of this-at times, I know I want it.

    • Nicola–you are so rigorously honest. It undoes me. And I so agree with you. Thank you for taking time to express your perspective…

  2. hope and pray that i can magnify the lord more often than not within the agony. because that is what the world is watching for. will she sink? or swim? and it means life or death for the watchers. right here. right now.
    thanks susan
    suzee B