Crucified, Rescued, Redeemed

by Brad Phillips

This is the true story of a young Dinka boy who was the victim of the barbarity of the civil war in Sudan, and who barely escaped with his life.

 I have been a regular visitor to Sudan since 1998.  I have witnessed incredible tragedy, injustice, and cruelty from the Moslem North against the Christian South. Even so, I had difficulty believing the reports about this story until I had the chance to go and see for myself during our December, 2003, outreaches in Sudan.

 My good friend Tommy Zurowski with Hellfighters International is a co-worker with the Voice of the Martyrs (VOM).  He found Joseph in June of 2003 when his plane was diverted to Joseph's village due to inclement weather. Just prior to my departure in December, VOM asked me to make a follow-up visit to deliver some relief items to Joseph and investigate possible ways in which VOM might provide medical and other assistance to him. I had the privilege of spending a day with this amazing young man, who is now called Joseph. I spoke with him, I interviewed him, I saw his scars, and I saw his eyes. What I saw moved me, and still haunts me. Here is his compelling story of suffering and faith:

 In 1987, a group of Murahaleen (Arab slave raiders) rode in on horseback and invaded the Dinka village of Aweil in Bahr el Gazal.  They killed everyone they could catch, except for the women and children. The women and children were kept alive for the slave markets in the North. Santino Garang, a young 7-year old Dinka boy (now known as Joseph), watched as his family and relatives were slaughtered.  He and all the children from his village were kidnapped and taken north to be sold in the slave markets. (Slavery was legalized in 1989 by the National Islamic Front and continues to be openly practiced in the Sudanwith mostly Christians being bought and sold by their Muslim captors.)

 He was given an Arab name to replace his Dinka name, but his master (Ibrahim) only referred to him by the pejorative "Abid," which means black slave.

For ten years, Joseph languished under the cruel whip of his master. During his enslavement, he survived by eating garbage and leftover scraps from his master's table. He was often beaten, tortured, and abused by his Arab master. African slaves, especially Christians, are viewed as lower than animals.

 Joseph was raised Christian. His master mocked his desire to worship, telling him every day that he had no business worshiping, since he was of no more value than a donkey.

 Joseph was charged with fetching water and tending his master's camels. He performed his daily tasks honestly, in spite of his master's cruelty. But one Sunday morning, he heard singing. The sound of hymns was food for his lonely soul. His heart got the best of him, and he followed the melodies to their source, and sat in the Christian service-a church service like those he remembered as a boy.

His comfort and joy were to be short lived. When he returned to his master's house, several camels had escaped and were unaccounted for. Joseph searched frantically for the camels, but before he could find them, his master flew into a fit of rage, and swore he would kill Joseph and do to him what had been done to Jesus; he would crucify him!

After brutally beating Joseph on the head and all over his body, the master laid him out on a wooden plank. He then nailed Joseph to the plank by driving 9-inch nails through his hands, knees, and feet. He then poured acid on Joseph's legs to inflict even greater pain, and finally left him for dead.

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Joseph Lay Crucified on that Board for Seven Days

How did he survive? The master's young son heard Joseph moaning and crying for help, and had pity on him. Risking his father's wrath, he secretly brought Joseph food and water for the next week. Joseph slipped in and out of consciousness and delirium.  Finally, the slave owner's son pulled out the nails and carried him to a medical clinic. Frankly, it is a miracle he survived.

 If you are wondering, no criminal charges were brought against Joseph's master because he acted within his "rights" under "sharia" law.  To say that Christians are second-class citizens in much of the Islamic world (not just the Sudan) is a cruel understatement.

 After his return from the "hospital" his master saw little value in Joseph's life, as he was crippled from the nails being driven through his knees. He allowed Joseph to be "redeemed" by Christian slave redeemers who arranged his return to his home village in Bahr el Gazal.

 The village warmly welcomed Joseph, and. the village elders decided he must have a new name to mark the beginning of a new life. He was given the biblical name Joseph because, like Joseph in the Old Testament, he was sold into slavery.

 Joseph Still Desperately Needs Your Prayers

 By God's grace Joseph survived kidnapping, the loss of his parents, ten years of enslavement, and near-death by crucifixion. But while he is free in body, he is still in great pain physically and emotionally. He bears the marks of his crucifixion in his body, and the scars of his torment in his soul. He is wounded and broken in his spirit. And he is haunted by the memories of hundreds of other children from his community who perished, or remain enslaved in the North.

 Joseph is one of a small number of people in the twenty-first century who know what it means to be crucified because of his Christian faith. But the reality is that hundreds of thousands of our fellow Christians in the Sudan have been enslaved, driven from their homes, hunted, and murdered by devoted followers of Islam. This war of Islamic cruelty has raged for centuries in the Sudan. Please remember our Sudanese brethren in your prayers, and do all you can to aid us in the relief of their suffering.


                 Editor's postscript: When Brad Phillips saw Joseph again in March, as his team brought in more than 125 metric tons of relief supplies, he said joy has replaced dejection in Joseph's expression, suggesting a spiritual renewal. Joseph is also praying for his former master, Phillips reported. In addition, Joseph shows signs of physical healing-especially from the acid burns on his legs. Walking is still painful, and how much the abused bones in his knees will recover is not yet known.

Brad Phillips is director of the Persecution Project, headquartered in Culpeper, Virginia. Crisis relief in Africa is a major ministry of Persecution Project, as well as sponsoring Christian radio stations which bring Christian programming to the Sudan. A current goal is to place 10,000 self-powered radios in the hands of Sudanese tribespeople. Persecution Project works closely with Voice of the Martyrs.

Contact information:

Persecution Project Foundation

P.O. Box 1327

Culpeper, VA 22701

Tel: 540-829-5353


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