This article was originally published in the April 2017 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Wouldn’t it be nice if becoming saved meant we no longer struggled with sin in our lives and in the world? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could instantly forgive all that had wronged us? Wouldn’t it be if we could leave past baggage in Jesus’ hands once and for all?
But instead, because He knows best, God uses a process to sanctify us. A process that lasts our entire lives and is only complete when He returns.
We are all “in process.” We are in the process of becoming more like Him.
In February 2015, ITMI’s Jahim Buli was reunited with his mother after 20 years of separation. Mother and son were separated when Jahim was 11 after a tribal conflict decimated his village and set off a chain of events that would change the family’s life forever.
Jahim’s mother, Rebecca, was taken captive. She endured years of slavery and abuse before being reunited with her family in an incredible turn of events.
It would be tempting to put a neat bow on this story and say they lived happily ever after as a big happy family. To tell you that in response to this miracle, his mother has been happily living with Jahim, serving in his church and has been an active agent for God’s Kingdom in South Sudan.
But that wouldn’t be quite accurate. Not yet anyway.
Rebecca was taken captive and endured years of slavery and abuse.
Haunted by Bitterness
Rebecca is haunted by years of terrifying and horrific memories. Of living in close quarters with evil year-in and year-out. Although undiagnosed, what she suffers is probably akin to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
What she lived with makes stressful look like a beach vacation. It stretches traumatic to the farthest extent of its definition.
And she still resides in a war-torn, lawless country where injustice happens in plain sight on the streets and law-enforcement is scant.
When she moved in, her presence in Jahim’s home immediately turned his family life to chaos.Through Jahim’s Gospel-centered counsel, she did give her life to Jesus in a moment of sobriety.
But the past still haunts her. God’s enemy still hides the destruction of bitterness in an enticing mirage and offers it to her daily. She blamed her brother-in-law, Jahim’s uncle, for all she suffered. She couldn’t forgive him.
And it drove her to drink.
Jahim knew she would often sneak to a neighbor’s house to drink. She would come home belligerent and angry, unleashing a verbal stream of the foulness in her heart in front of and at her family, including their children. However, if Jahim was home, she would keep it quiet and fall asleep.
Jahim says, “I have never stopped praying for her salvation and deliverance from the drink. I didn’t stop telling her about the kingdom of God, hell and Jesus.”
Jahim counseled her to forgive her brother-in-law, using the gospel-based SALT material he teaches all over South Sudan.
Finally, Rebecca forgave her brother-in-law and asked Jahim to take her to his village so she could reconcile with her in-law’s house.
When they arrived at the village, they were received by Jahim’s uncle and aunt. The village gathered around them to celebrate Rebecca’s return after 22 years.
At first, they believed Jahim was the hero that had brought her back.
Jahim recounts, “It gave me the opportunity to share the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ who made me who I am today and how He used an officer who was once my enemy but became my best friend to discover my mother while he was on assignment in the land of her captives."
Many villagers gave their lives to Christ in response to this testimony, and most requested help finding this God who hears His children when we call.
The village listens as Jahim shared the gospel and what God has done for him and for them.
About the Authors
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.