Yassir's Story: Famine in Nuba Mountains

Yassir is a good man. Serious, meticulous, old beyond his years. Born into a devout Muslim home, called to prayer by the Imams, he was a student of the Koran. Until he met Jesus. Until his heart broke for Heaven’s true Son. His father beat him mercilessly, demanding he recant. Yassir shielded his face as the blows came again and again with a ferocity he had always known lived inside his father. Forced from his home, he stumbled along the rutted path, collapsing into a pool of water.  Surrounded by the incessant buzzing of winged insects there to investigate his wounds, he knew he’d never go home.  

In this part of the world, when a young man is recognized for his ability to learn, often whole communities will work together to fund his education. Teenagers and young men are sent away with the understood obligation to return and help their community. They will be expected to lead. They will be expected to stand up and fight for betterment of the lives of all. This is a heavy mantle.

When David was in Nuba last month, he brought funds to buy and move grain and other protein rich perishables to feed the people. The people who are starving. The people who are dying in record numbers. The UN has reported that in Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia this is worst famine since the organization’s inception.  The worst will come in June and July. Millions will die. Yassir knows this.  David knows this. But David gets to go home to the cattle on the hill and pond that’s full of fish. Yassir must look into the eyes of the men who paid to raise him up as a leader. As a meeting of local leaders concludes, a feeling of hopelessness descends. Yassir and David watch the others walk away. And Yassir begins to cry. He comes from a long line of men who never cry, but watching the world you love shrink down to its very bones will do that to man. Watching infants starve on empty breasts is a most callous experience. “I’m glad God has given me a father to go through this with,” he says and lays his tear stained face on David’s shoulder.

One can read in 2Kings about the prophet Elijah preparing to leave his young disciple, Elisha.  The student asks to inherit a double portion of his spirit. The older man knows this is a difficult thing to ask but does not wish to discourage the one who will soon carry on in his stead. I think about what Jesus has done already. David brought the money for 10,000 pounds of food, and Yassir’s black market connections turned that bounty into an unbelievable 100,000 pounds. God the multiplier.  Then when the time comes, Elisha looks up into the clouds and calls out, “My father! My Father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel.” I imagine Yassir watching David’s plane leave. Elisha rends his garment in dismay at being left behind. He bends to pick up his master’s cloak and hits the river with it, “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah.” And with that, God parts the waters. The transfer and blessings are upon him. He is now fully a man.

Every day this week, David gets email updates from Yassir about how hard things are. About trucks that need to move the grain. About drivers he doesn’t know if he can trust. About borders he cannot cross. About proper distribution he cannot organize. About guns and war and suffering he cannot staunch.   So we stand together in prayer. Logistics collapses under the weight of war, but no Earthly heaviness is too great for the Creator. The maker of Heaven and Earth. When Elisha is compelled by the people of the city to come and hear their problems, he moves with authority now. “Our well is dry and the land unproductive,” they tell him. Yassir knows this story. Elisha asks for salt. Just like David brought salt. Elisha puts the salt in the water, and tells the people, “This is what the Lord says, I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.”   So we pray that God will heal this land too. That God will do miracles with weather and rain and growth and food in such hilarious abundance that all the world will know there is a God in the Sudan and that He loves his people.

When I think of the women picking leaves to eat because their children are starving, my spirit cries out.  I think of the salt David assumed would be to preserve meat. Salt that is used to make the water and leaves more palatable because, of course, there is no meat. I think about my own boys, hungry with empty bellies and spindled arms and dull eyes. I am undone. I too would go pick leaves. I would pick leaves and weep, crying out for mercy. So to you I say, take out your wallets. Take them out with the knowledge that when you come to die, when you take that inventory of all the things you’ve ever bought, of all the purchases and trips and fine meals you’ve ever eaten, all of it. Know in your soul and spirit, this will be the best money you ever spent. That there is no comparison. No one in the world can reach these people in the Nuba Mountains. The western world forbids helping northern Sudan, and its own muslim government is using food as a weapon of war. So they are truly without help. Except these two men: David Fuller and Yassir. Your money through ATC will provide Yassir with more grain and trucks and gasoline. So take out your wallets and save these lives. You will save lives that no one else in the world can. So join us and be ridiculously generous.  Beause without this money, you sentence them to death. Jesus has conquered death; Jesus has multiplied the loaves and fish, and He is asking you to be his colaborer in the mountains. Take his hand, and your joy will be full.