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Goodbye Jesus

The Beginning Of The End...


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Hi there! This is my first post on here- I wanted to share a piece I wrote about "the beginning of the end". I spent my first year out of high school in an intense ministry and missions training program, and was a missionary for three years after that. This story is about an experience I had in a remote part of South Sudan.


Laughter is about the only emotion that isn’t taboo here, at least in public. Good thing for Bob. Bob is not much taller than me, but he’s strong and hard working. He’s the fatherly type, with a wildly contagious sense of humor. He can get anyone laughing hard, even if he doesn't speak their language. Then there’s Michael, the guy with the hook instead of a hand. Michael is smart, intuitive, and always seems to know what’s going on with the people around him. He is taller than Bob, and always laughing at him. It’s amazing the work that can still be accomplished when you only have a hook and a hand. Patrick is the shortest of them all. He is the youngest but still a lot older than me. Pat is kind and soft-spoken- a skilled worker, very physically strong.

Wayne and Bev live and work on the compound, they’ve been here for a straight 4 months. No contact with the outside world. It surprised me at first that Bev was willing to leave the comforts of home to live and work in such a rough and isolated place. She is a lot tougher than she looks. Wayne, her husband, has the look and careless laugh of a sailor, with wavy grey hair and a hearty beard framing his face. Laughing comes easy to both of them, and they laugh a lot with Benjamin. He’s the compound guard and one of my favorite people here, as honest a man as they come and more openly compassionate than any Sudanese man I’ve met. Fit and tough, he’s got a light and a darkness always there behind his eyes. He and his young wife have lost two babies, one at birth and the other before he was a month old. As bright and kind as Benjamin is, you can still see the weight of that sorrow. Now they finally have baby Friday, and he has made it into is third month of life.

The red dust kicks up around my feet as I walk out to the Pajero, my face glistening in the heat of the late afternoon. We all pile in, anxious and not sure what to expect. We just now got the news. I’m not medically qualified to do anything, none of us are. We are just hoping for a miracle.

The 4 wheel drive lurches to and fro over the treacherous road, twisting the knot in my stomach even tighter. There is no laughter on this car ride. Even Bob sits quietly, eyes gazing out at the passing jungle. What are we even going to pray for? Do I have enough faith to ask? Does God really care…?

The “road” twists through the tikk and mahogany thick forest as we close in on a cluster of tiny mud and grass roof huts. I climb out the back of the Pajero, and I can hear Benjamin already speaking with some of the villagers, voices hushed. We follow him silently through the maze of little mud homes they call tucles, every eye is on us. A little boy barely peeks out behind his mother as we pass by, frightened by our ghostly pale faces.

I see two women ahead, practically carrying the slight frame of the mother out to meet us. They lower her to a mat on the side of the tucle and she leans into it, shoulders heavy, head in her hands as if she wants to disappear. My God, she looks years younger than I am. Tears stream down her delicate face, out here in front of everyone… she could not contain her grief, nor the physical pain overwhelming her tiny body. The women who helped her to the mat back away slowly, not sure what to do either. We are too late, the baby has already died and has been taken far outside the village for burial. In this remote and primitive place, mothers are blamed when a malformed baby is born, for letting devils or evil spirits into their lives or homes. I look around at the blank faces gathering around us in the eerie quiet, half of them starring at Michael’s hook. The heat is so thick, I wish I could stick my head into a freezer.

We carefully gather around her, though none of us have words for this moment. I gently take one of her hands and Bob takes the other. Bob is crying. Michael is crying. Pat has pulled his hat low over his face. Even sailor faced Wayne is wiping tears from his beard. Every one of us just sits there crying with her, speechless and helpless to do a thing. Finally Bob says something, trying to express how deeply sorry we are for her loss. Benjamin translates the message to her. She nods and reaches up to wipe away more tears as quickly as she can. We prayed for her. There was not a goddamn thing else we could do, so we climbed back into the Pajero and drove back to the compound as silently as we came. A deep stab of guilt punishes me for my feelings of relief. God wasn’t going to do a miracle, and if this baby survived it would be an outcast, a monster. Though I didn't know it at the time, this was the beginning of the end for me.

Faith is not all you need.

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Thanks for story JuliaK and welcome to EX-C! The fact that, in 33 years as a true believer, I never saw anyone healed of anything was huge in my deconversion.


Hope you stick around and make some friends :)

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Hi Juliak. That you for sharing. I'm curious, we're those events the trigger or the culmination of your departure?


Welcome aboard!

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Guest Babylonian Dream

Where was God when those kids were dying? Nonexistant.


I deconverted long ago. Sudan was one of those places that made me at one point want to be a missionary, now its one of those places I'd love to find a way to help, particularly by doing humanitarian missions.

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Juliak, thank you for sharing this. You are a very beautiful writer. I felt like I was there with you. I can only imagine what that experience must have been like.


It was my own personal pain and need for a miracle, coupled with my observation of the same in others that triggered my deconversion. You are so right, Faith is not all you need. At some point the "word" needs to be backed up by some actual evidence.


I hope you stick around and share more of your story!



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