Star of Wonder

via The Guardian as shared by Lauren Frey

I still remember the dusty square crammed full of children lined up by school and class.  Sun beating hot overhead, red earth breathing a pent-up sigh. The day prayed for for some 50 years.  A generation just barely seeing a glimmer of peace on their horizon.  A new nation rising from the ashes of the cruelty of war. And I, the pale-skinned, one-legged woman from the west who found her home on this battle weary patch of earth was there to celebrate in their midst. Seven years I called this land home and so much of my heart still does.

2011, Freedom Square, Yei: Independence Celebration

I stood there watching the military sit proud and all the organizations and schools, groups and even groups that wanted to be groups amassed in a great banner waving crowd.  And it hit me.  I was standing right in the middle of the answer to my prayers.  As a teenager years before I once saw the picture of world map with the boundary lines of nations changing before my eyes as I prayed and I boldly declared, “I want to be there to see that happen.  I want to be there one day to see a nation be born.”

For five years I had walked with my Southern Sudanese family through unrest and struggle and sickness and miracles and the beauty of a wholly abandoned faith that had no plan B.  I staked a claim in that red dusty ground right there with them, honored to be able to join hands and heart with my precious friends to start a home for some of their most vulnerable little lives.  And then the moment came with much celebration and great joy, a new baby nation arrived and it seemed the world stopped holding its breath. For a short while at least.

My sweet children learning their new national anthem to join the ceremony.  Their voices ringing clear filled with promise for all that lie ahead.  They sang with conviction and held high their new flag, their own flag… with a golden star shining bright.

Oh God!
We praise and glorify you
For your grace on South Sudan
Land of great abundance
Uphold us united in peace and harmony

Oh motherland!
We rise raising flag with the guiding star
And sing songs of freedom with joy
For justice, liberty and prosperity
Shall forevermore reign…

{Republic of South Sudan, National Anthem excerpt}

And their star stitched in fabric reminds me of another star that heralded another birth.  The time when heaven kissed earth and the Creator of all was born a helpless baby.  And He alone can bring peace to this storm of tribes and angry generational division.  He alone can be Peace for South Sudan.  Peace only truly exists when He reigns in our hearts as the Prince of Peace.

ssudan-2I remember that day SO very well, my children and our school dressed in their crisp uniforms carrying a banner of dreams.  Yes Jesus, we want to teach a generation to dream.  To dream bigger than their nation’s history, to dream beyond the confines of ethnicity, to honor their identity while dreaming Your dreams for their land.

_71885758_01_ethnic_groups_464I saw this map of major ethnic groups today and I could hear my children singing a prayer that started on their faces before Jesus and then later was heard all over the region on the radio.  Children from many tribes crying out together for the healing of the ethnic divisions, healing of the painful memories and violent shadows of  the past. A prayer sung by the ones who will shape the future and who are growing together in a family where God’s Love is stronger than anything.

I pray tonight a world away that songs of deliverance will echo through out a land I love so much and bring freedom in the hearts of its many peoples.  Listen to hope rise in the voices of my children.  Join with us and pray for healing and that the star will guide all involved home to the One Who laid aside His power to be born a baby so He could save His people from everything that kept us apart from Him.

Beled Sudani
by Kat Maples & the children of Iris South Sudan, Yei Children’s Village.

Muhaba ta Yeshua ma be kalasu. (Jesus’ love will not end)
Niina be asuma koray ta faraha. (We will listen to cries of joy)
Niina be koray; niina biga farahan. (We will cry out and be joyful)
Rabuna b’ilaju beled ta niina (The Lord will heal our land!)

Beled Sudani, Rabuna b’ilaju inta (Sudan land, the Lord will heal you!)
Beled Junubi, Rabuna b’ilaju inta (South land, the Lord will heal you!)

Niina koray le inta Rabuna (We cry to you, Lord)
Niina koray le inta Yeshua (We cry to you, Jesus)
Niina koray le inta Allah (We cry to you, God)
Niina koray le inta Baba (We cry to you, Father)

Niina nadi, inta asuma (We call, You hear)
Niina nadi, inta ja (We call, You come)
Niina nadi, niina koray (We call, we cry out)
Inta afi, inta ilaju (You forgive, You heal)