NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Thousands of young Sudanese boys grew up fast when civil war and persecution from Islamic fundamentalists drove them out of their country into Ethiopia.
Abraham Nhial was one of the fortunate Lost Boys of Sudan who survived the journey. But he didn’t find true life until he surrendered everything to Jesus Christ.
A childhood filled with violence, famine and death, including witnessing untold atrocities, left many of the Lost Boys of Sudan with emotional scars. Even those who relocated to the United States years ago continue to deal with haunting memories.
DiAnn Mills shares a detailed account of the trials and triumphs of Nhial and the Lost Boys in “Lost Boy No More — A True Story of Survival and Salvation,” released by Broadman & Holman Publishers of LifeWay Christian Resources, with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Nhial, who received Christ at age 11 in an Ethiopian refugee camp, shares how his faith gave him hope. It also helped him stay sane.
“God who is love and who is unchanging and everlasting is our greatest eternal security,” he said in the book. “Those of us who believe in God’s provisions understand He took care of us during the journey. Persecution is the seed of the gospel.”
Mills originally refused to write Nhial’s story because she feared it would be too emotionally difficult to complete. Many of the Lost Boys and their families were tortured and murdered by militant Muslims bent on killing and enslaving Christians in Southern Sudan. Thousands of others perished from disease and starvation.
“I didn’t want to consider such tragedy existed in today’s world,” Mills wrote. “I didn’t want to believe that children crossed Sudan on foot and faced the perils before them without the aid of parents or adults. … But God had a plan, and He wanted the plight of the Lost Boys of Sudan to reach the world.”
In 1987, Nhial left his home in Southern Sudan to flee to Ethiopia as violence continued to spin out of control. He arrived there with thousands of other Lost Boys. Because the country had no way to protect all of the refugees, Nhial and others moved on to a refugee camp in Kenya.
How could a young boy grow up in this type of environment?
Violence, persecution and civil war are nothing new to Sudan. Conflict between Christians and Muslims has split the northern and southern sides of the country for the past several hundred years.
“Sudan cradles a vast heritage of Arab and black Africans who share a common country, but little else,” Mills said. “Different races, different languages and different cultures breed disharmony beyond the physical boundaries of north and south Sudan.
“The history is laden with political unrest, religious differences, bloodshed and selfish interests.”
In 1998, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agreed to move 4,000 of the Lost Boys from refugee camps to the United States. Nhial was one of those boys who relocated to the United States in 2001.
Though some may see this move as a perfect ending to a sad story, the Lost Boys encountered new struggles when they entered the fast-paced life of the States. Many of the boys struggled with depression, temptation into criminal activity and learning how to make a living.
Nhial was one of the fortunate boys who found his way into the ministry and had Christian friends who helped guide him away from trouble. He hopes to return one day to war-torn Sudan and impact the country for Christ.
Nhial is an example of how a “lost” boy truly can find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He hopes that more of his people in Sudan will find this same peace.
“I love them so much,” he said. “The Bible says there is a time for everything. I know there will be a time for them to be happy and feel at home.”