Love is the only thing strong enough to penetrate and soft enough to open the heart of a child who has seen the horrors of slavery. For 15-year-old Tong, this God-kind of love was shown through the kindness of Bridge of Hope missionaries. Though this life is but a vapor, God set his love upon Tong and he will never be the same.
Stolen into slavery at the age of 6, the only 'family' Tong knew was the slave master who beat him, raped him and forced him to call the man 'Father.' He was so traumatized that when Bridge of Hope missionaries arrived to see his redemption, Tong thought they were there to kill him. About one year prior, Tong's master punished him for losing a goat by furiously thrusting a spear-like gardening hoe into the boy's ankle. To his master, Tong was worth less than the goat he lost. No medical attention was given during the year he spent limping on his injury, and by the time we got to him, the infection threatened to go into the bone. Infections that reach into the bone cause cancer and require amputation...at 15 years old Tong was in danger of losing his leg.
Through an interpreter, we gently asked him to share as much of his story as he could. After a moment of tense silence, he looked up with tears in his eyes and whispered, "He forced me to be like a woman for him." It seemed the weight of his confession physically bowed his head between his knees. Tong closed into a silence from which he could not break, but God is patient. Through deliberate time spent with the child, he experienced the love of Christ. His physical needs were met with more compassion than he had ever before experienced. Clean new clothes, a fresh hot meal, soft answers and gentle guidance softened his heart to receive a love he could not understand. At the breakfast table when the next day broke, Tong was smiling.
It was a miracle. A little boy who had endured a lifetime of unthinkable suffering encountered the tender love of the Father God and let it penetrate his heart--in one day. His physical needs were being met with kindhearted attention by a doctor who cared not only for a life-threatening infection, but his personal wellbeing. The other miracle was that on that day, Tong accepted Jesus Christ into his heart as his Lord and Savior. When it was time for us to go, there was a longing in his eyes, 'You're leaving me...' they seemed to cry. But he was absorbed into the family of the very doctor that helped his ankle. The moment he was born into the family of God, he was given a mother to make sure he washes behind his ears and father to correct and guide him. His whole life changed in one day--the day he let in the love of God.
Nothing but this God-kind of love can do what has been done in Tong's life. Your gifts to BOH not only help deliver food, medicine and survival kits to former Sudanese slaves, but they send ministers trained and baptized in the love of God to wrap their arms around someone who desperately needs to know that they are not forgotten. Tong is on his way to recovery, and his heart will never be the same. Thank you for giving and believing with us. Because of the trust you placed in our hands, Tong has opened his heart to trust God. With God, all things are possible.