November 2020: We Hear The Howling of Wolves
In South Sudan, if a father has a son that is a shame to him, he does not want people to know that the son is his. But if the son does well, everyone asks, “Whose son is this?” They want to meet the father and ask what he did to raise this boy to be such a fine man. One of the finest men I have served with was Paul Kuol. Paul’s father practiced witchcraft when Paul was a small boy and was not a good leader. But, as Paul’s father was dying, he realized that his belief system was false. He called Paul to his bedside and said to him, “Burn all the idols and go to church.” Paul obeyed his father’s dying words and went to church, where he would hear the stories of Christ and surrender his life to Him. He, like most other young men, would be conscripted into the South Sudan Army in 1984 at the age of thirteen. He served for 36 years, of which he was put into many intense battles, where he fought for his nation. Paul’s testimony from the many battles he fought were so powerful because the Lord would warn him when his unit was about to be ambushed or overrun by the enemy. The leaders in his unit, at first, did not believe him when he warned them, but after a while they learned to trust Paul because every one of his warnings came true. Because of the respect he earned, he was transferred to an elite status as a commando and would later rise to the rank of captain. Commandos are the special forces of the South Sudan Army. This is a brutal unit to be part of because the men are thrown into every critical battle and are always the first to fight. Fighting in South Sudan is no joke—you are often engaged in battle for 10 days at a time without food. Yet, expected to press in and destroy the enemy and accomplish your objective at any cost. On top of fierce battle, you are made to forage for sustenance to maintain strength. Out of the 550 men Far Reaching Ministries has trained as chaplains, I would consider Paul to be one of my top five men. He was always very zealous for the Lord. In his 20 years of service as a chaplain, he never faltered in his faith. During the last refresher course, he was so excited about the Lord’s work and would often be found praying and encouraging everyone. It was about six weeks ago that I was informed that he was sick. I immediately sent him to the doctors and was informed that he had two different types of hepatitis and was in critical condition. The medical facilities to treat Paul’s illnesses in the South Sudanese capital city of Juba were not sufficient, so I sent him to a hospital in Khartoum.
In Khartoum, the doctors told me that if there was any chance of saving him, he would have to be flown to India for a liver transplant and the cost for the procedure would be $36,000. I responded that he should be sent immediately and that I do not care about the cost, I care about Paul. They then informed me that we would need to send three of his relatives also, in the hopes of finding a match. A portion of a healthy donor liver could be implanted into Paul, and would then develop into a functioning liver, over time. The next day, before we could arrange for Paul to fly to India, the doctor called to tell us that they had pumped a quart of water out of Paul’s stomach the night before. He went on to say that they could not save him and that he was sending Paul home. The brevity of this hit me very hard, and I could not comprehend losing Paul. I prayed, “Lord, he is one of the finest men I have ever met and invaluable to this work.” We all prayed and sought the Lord. Paul was flown back to Juba and I had him put into a private hospital. Every day, because Paul’s illness was so advanced, the doctors pumped more water from his stomach. He was extremely tired and barely able to get out of bed. But, true to Paul’s nature, he would force himself to get out of bed every day and go from patient to patient telling them about the love of Christ. He was storing his last treasures. The most difficult part for me was not being able to be with Paul when he was so gravely ill. I considered him my son in the faith, and I loved him as a warrior for the Kingdom. We communicated by phone and prayed. I assured him not to worry, that we would take care of his wife and children. I told him that we will build a house for his family and make sure his wife receives his chaplain’s salary. On the 23rd of August he called his wife and eight children to his bedside and said, “Do not worry—I die well. I have lived for Christ and I die with Christ.” Paul went on to say, “Follow me as I have followed our Lord. I want to see you all on the other side.” On Sunday, the 23rd of August 2020, Paul graduated from a life of service to the heavenly city. What made Paul so unique was that he never lost sight of his calling—nor have I ever lost sight that the wolves are in abundance in South Sudan. Paul heard the howling of the wolves and knew he was called to shepherd and protect the flock. Not a day has passed that I have not felt the loss of Paul. Out of the 64 chaplains and staff who have preceded him, this was the most difficult to handle. I will forever miss him, but I know I will see him again. I have thought about what he must be seeing right now. When the Scripture talks about the New Jerusalem, it says that the walls are 1,500 miles long. To put this into perspective, if you go from the bottom of California, through the top of Washington state and then about 70 miles into Canada you would get the equivalent length of one side. Next, from the shore of the Pacific Ocean through Little Rock, Arkansas, and another seventy miles beyond to get to the length of the other side. What must be the wonders and rewards for a life completely surrendered to Jesus? Our mind invokes images of an earthly city with the finest shops, entertainment, and dining. Christ in all His glory with God, along with His host of angels is a sight to replace anything that we have the ability to comprehend. I am sure that Paul has seen his brothers and family, who loved Christ that have gone before him, but he is now worshipping at the feet of Jesus. While I will forever miss him, I do envy Paul.
Far Reaching Ministries