Last year in Sudan, I watched God heal a little dog. I had the joy of nursing him back to health. The poor puppy has seen a lot of trauma in his short life – beaten, left for dead, on the menu for a barbecue, rescued, then left for dead again. He was thrown on a junk pile by an old man, until there was time to dig a hole for him.
The kids at the Children’s Village found the puppy and called for me, telling me his story and showing me his sorry, crumpled form – neck hanging at an awkward angle, body twitching (when moving at all), whiskers singed, and eyes glassed over with shock. He was unresponsive, but breathing.
The kids wanted to pray for him. So, we prayed.
And, after we prayed, the kids told me, “You take him to your house.” So, I did.
As I walked across the compound, trying to keep the sad puppy’s spine immobilized, I whispered an internal prayer to the God of the universe, the creator of all dogs (not to mention you and me), “Lord, this little guy is in bad shape. If You don’t do something, he’ll die by morning. I can’t heal him, but You can. Please. Heal him.”
My petition was heartfelt. Earlier that very morning, the Lord had told me I was going to leave Sudan before the year was out. My heart ached at the thought of moving away from the Sudanese family that had grown so precious to me in the two years I lived there, and fear paralyzed me to think that something terrible might happen to the people I loved after I left.
I knew life was fragile. I had lost count of the funerals I had attended there. I knew the ground was soaked with the blood of many wars, and I knew the war drums were beating for independence yet again. It seemed almost too silly to ask, but, if God was near enough to see this little mutt that didn’t really matter – and if He cared enough to heal him – surely He could care for the loved ones I would leave behind!
Kids were pushing in to see the bundle in my arms. In an effort to shield the puppy from their poking and prodding, I sent them running to find pieces of the bush that might help us make some kind of splint for the wee dog’s neck.
As I entered my dimly lit room, a thought dropped into my mind, “Worship Jesus over the puppy.” I smiled to myself, imagining how silly most people would think it was to worship Jesus over a little dog.
I tore apart a cardboard box to put some space in between the pup and the cold concrete floor. When the children stood in the doorway of my house, blocking the light with twigs and grass in hand, I tried to fashion a makeshift brace on the puppy’s neck.
“Well, that’s all I know to do,” I sighed.
Silently, the thought repeated itself, “Worship Jesus over the puppy.”
I grabbed my iPod and found an album called “Healing Love” by Julie True. The ethereal worship music began to fill my house, exalting Jesus, and I left the album playing on repeat for days.
The smallest children joined me in praying for the puppy every time I walked across the compound. We continued to believe Jesus could do what we could not. The dog would be healed. I named the bony fur-ball “Rapha,” because it means “healing.”
Every morning, I would speak to the dog, telling him he would be healed. Telling him he would walk and eat and play. Telling his neck to heal and straighten.
Incredibly, the little dog recovered, and I think I know why. It was the kindness of our God, revealing His nearness and giving a promise to my heart for my people in Sudan.
As the Southern Sudanese go to the polls on January 9th, they will vote for or against independence from the north. Regardless of the result, there are people ready to fight. Regardless of their threats, God is near and He sees. He will take care of my dear ones. When we have done all we know to do, we must rest and worship Jesus over Sudan.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” – Jesus (Matthew 10:29-31)