It’s hard to remember exactly when I met Dinafor, but I know it was sometime during my son’s senior year of high school. Being on the soccer team of a large high school, it wasn’t uncommon for Conner to bring home friends who were from different parts of the world. Soccer truly is an international sport and our family has enjoyed the way these students have enriched our lives.
Din was just a freshman the year Conner graduated, but we’ve continued the relationship because he started coming to our church and is the same age as our daughter. We knew his family was from Africa, and more specifically, the Sudan. I’ve asked the typical questions about his large family and their eating habits of goat and rice. (because goat isn’t something that’s easily available at the local grocery store!) We had heard that his family escaped the atrocities of Sudan by winning a lottery and given the chance to have a life in the U.S. In short, our family and our church family, loves this young man.
But the reality of Sudan sat in my living room last Sunday night. After hosting our senior small group, Din stayed around after most of the students had left and I saw him talking intently with my husband, Vic. I could tell by the conversation that Din was carrying a huge burden. He’s not a big talker, so I knew something was heavy on his heart.
After he left, Vic began to explain Din’s concern about his family who are still in Sudan. There had been recent threats on their lives and they were living in danger. While most of our high school senior students are obsessed with graduation and college plans, Dinafor’s main concern was for the welfare of his homeland and his family. Vic prayed and encouraged him. It was moment I doubt my husband will forget.
I started thinking about the number of students in our high schools and colleges who are from other countries. When was the last time you had an international student in your home? Did you know most students who come to the United States as an exchange student or as a college student have never been invited to share a meal with an American family? In the past six months, we’ve had students from China, Africa and Mexico.
What responsibility do Christians have with these students? I couldn’t help but hear Din’s heart for Sudan. He truly believes God will send him back to his homeland to make a difference. He wants to play soccer for their national team. He would be a hero in his country! And we have the opportunity to pour God’s word into his life and into his heart. God could use Din to bring about spiritual change in a war-torn country. That’s just mind-boggling when I look at him sitting in my living room and interacting with other teenagers.
Sometimes missions means going to Sudan. But, for me, missions was Sudan sitting in my living room.