WHY SUDAN? Alcoholism is epidemic in southern Sudan after 22 years of war and a shattered economy. WHY ME? In the Fall of 2005, I was hopelessly numbing out my pain with alcohol.
On Dec. 27, 2005, in absolute desperation, I walked into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
In January of 2006 I got to Step 3, "Give your life and will to God." Life hasn't been the same since.
This June-August, I will share the Gospel of Jesus and alcoholism recovery to the men of Sudan.
God continues to grow the Sudanese Recovery Group daily.
And I think we have arrived at a name: Rapha Sudan (from the Hebrew words, Jehovah Rapha from the Bible - God of Healing...thanks to my mom and dad's idea).
Currently we have about 25 members and our meetings are consistently about 16-20 daily.
The sobriety dates range from Kenny S. (4 weeks on Tuesday) to Mary Tamalo (5 days).
I want to tell you Mary's story.
Every time we went by one of the "drinking places" on the way to the church, we would pick-up Joseph L., put Neosporin on/pray for Betty's finger (a moonshine brewer who had a gash down to the bone...which is now healed - thank you, Lord), try to get "older" Scopas to come with us and try to talk with Mary. Mary was like a zombie. She would stumble up to us, mumble words and shake our hands about 5 times each. She would always say through translation, "I'll come tomorrow," but she never did.
Mary might weigh 90 lbs soaking wet. She wears the same clothes every day. A purple nightgown-ish dress, a satin wrap around her waist (which she says doubles as a sheet when she lays down to sleep) and a gypsy styled yellow head wrap.
Last Monday, Rob Sherman was in town (professional counselor from Dallas). He met Mary in the morning as we were making the rounds to visit our members and felt in his heart that she HAD TO COME TO THE MEETING TODAY. Later in the day, as we drove by and picked-up Joseph L. near the drinking place. There was Mary standing on the roadside staring with a blank face. Normally, the ride is only given to Joseph L. because he has to walk with a cane. There was no room for Mary in the vehicle (already 10 people in a small SUV). Rob Sherman immediately jumped out of the truck and said, "put her in my place; I'll walk."
We rode in silence. You could smell the sweetish, steamy alcohol on Mary in the hot car.
When we arrived, we greeted the rest of the group and Kenny said, "Before the meeting, why don't you talk to Mary about what this group is and how it works." Kenny, the shepherd, always thinking.
Holly Lungren, Kenny S. and I met with Mary on the side of the group under the African Sweets tree where we meet in the shade on the church grounds.
I told her my story of hopelessness and alcoholism. As I told her about the life change that came in surrendering my life and will to Jesus, she began crying and softly shaking her head. Holly got her a kleenex. And as I continued, she cried more and more. Holly gently put her hand on Mary's back and she instantly buckled onto our knees wailing and moaning. Rob, David and Missy Williams started praying for her.
We immediately kneeled beside Mary, laid our hands on her and began praying for Jesus to free her from Satan.
After 5 or so minutes, she lifted up all of a sudden and frantically showed us her hands. They were stuck in a contorted position. We continued praying in Jesus' name, sensing this was all because of a demon in her. Then she told Kenny something in Kuku. She was going to throw-up.
We walked three steps from the group and she fell to her knees. She dry-heaved once and then spit. She rolled over and sat. Rob got the one bag of vitamin chews that I had in my shoulder bag and she was given a 1.5 liter bottle of water. Both were gone in a minute.
We helped her to her feet and she gave us hugs. We held her in our arms trying to make sure it was over.
It was over.
She was in her right mind, peaceful, and able to speak.
All we could think about was the verse in Luke where Jesus says that when an unclean/evil spirit goes out from a person, it goes through arid places. When it returns to the person, it finds the house cleaned and put in order, so it goes and gets seven spirits even more wicked than the first. And they go into the person and the final condition is worse than the first.
We walked into the church, explained to her the hope and eternal life found in Jesus and she told us that she understood, knew she was an alcoholic and that everyone thought she was mad (mad as in insane). She went through the first three steps, surrendering her life and will to Jesus. Ephesians tells us that when someone believes the gospel and puts their faith in Jesus, they are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
Sealed...period. Sealed, as in unable to be possessed ever again.
God delivered this woman from a doomed existence. She'll be sober a week as of 3pm Monday.
Now Mary throws her head back to the side and laughs and laughs. She is full of joy. She shares in the meetings how people are asking how she's changed. She sings the worship songs. And she smiled all through the church service today as we talked about being a daughter of the King.
Regardless of what you think about spiritual things, demons and Jesus - one thing I can tell you: the Mary I know today is not the Mary I knew 6 days ago and there's no explanation otherwise.
Mary is just one story of many. Every person at the group looks between 5 and 20 years younger, full of joy and loving life. Marriages are being restored, people are getting jobs, children's school fees are being paid and most of all, names are being written in Heaven and God gets all the glory.
Please take 30 seconds to pray for Rapha Sudan - we all stay sober one day at a time, by God's strength alone.