I Will Carry You in my Heart

Freckled sunlight danced at our feet in the clearing under the konyuk tree. Crude wooden benches stretched out from the clearing, all facing the tree. Arrayed on the benches the occupants of the Lachook leper colony sat and sang at the top of their lungs and clapped in time to a worship song to welcome us, their visitors.

Sabet presented Tom and Dave and I to them.  They liked Dave and Tom’s names, informing us that “Tom” in Dinka means to give someone an injection, so his name was very appropriate.  My name however was foreign and difficult to pronounce and it would have to be rectified.  Sabet asked the colony to give me a name in Dinka.  An old and gentle man, missing most of his toes and fingers, as well as part of his nose, called out “Deng Mallou”.

Sabet nodded and smiled, looked at me and said as if to present me afresh, “Deng Mallou!” to an eruption of clapping and cheering.

“Please tell me it doesn’t mean cow manure or something.”

“Its a very good name, it means a strong rain, it’s a good thing.” Sabet said, smiling between me and the people who bestowed this new moniker on me.

“Deng Mallou!” I said, giving my thumbs up in approval, which was met with a unified shout “Deng Mallou!” from the group.

Then in one of those unexpected moves that make me wish I were a good pastor and always had something brilliant ready to say, Sabet leaned in and asked me to share something with them.

There I stood, looking out at expectant, dirty faces; at human beings dressed in rags and missing digits and dignity.  What could I say to them? I took a deep breath and  asked God to fill my words.

“Thank you for such a warm welcome for my friends and me.  I came a long way to meet you, and I’m so very glad I did. I’ve taken pictures of you with my camera, but I’ve also hidden you in my heart.  You’ll be in my heart when I go back to my home, and to my church, and we’ll be praying for God’s grace for you.
It’s good for us to meet like this, to catch a glimpse of each other while we’re here. If we all belong to Christ, then we’re all family, and we’ll be spending forever with each other.  This is a hard world and we’re very fragile, but one day Jesus will bring us all home and our struggles will be through.  I’ll look for you then, and you look for me, now that we’ve met we won’t be strangers.
Again, thank you for having us, and God’s love be with you.”

After that we distributed bags of sugar and tea to each door of the colony, and having plenty, we went back and gave each room two bags.

Watching through the back window of the Rover as we drove away, i watched a child who wore only a shirt run after us, waving.  I waved back. “I will carry you in my heart, I will take you home with me there.”

Published by Rob Woodrum

I serve as a pastor among the people of Eastgate Christian Fellowship in Panama City Beach, Florida. I'm not very good at it, but it's what God has called me to do...so I do.

15 thoughts on “I Will Carry You in my Heart

  1. Your ‘good pastor’ words were excellent. I have tears in my eyes & heart since reading them, so I am sure they touched the hearts of those you spoke to. Thanks for sharing, Strong Rain.

  2. Thanks for the journal I feel like I can see and emotionally become a part of it. Please pass along they are in my heart! That is if you get this.

  3. It is truly that you are letting us be a part of your journey with the messages. I was incredibly touched by this .We will continue to keep you all in our prayers. Maybe now we should refer to you as Strong Rainman the pastor formerly known as Rob.

  4. We love your posts and you are truly being blessed by God by being there and allowing God to use you so mightily. Names brings back memories also, Laura, was named jonjay, “Gift from God”.

  5. But Rob, you are a good pastor and you do always have something brilliant to say. That is a wonderful gift our God has given you. Thanks for letting us share in your blessing.

  6. “Deng Mallou”> Strong Rain…it fits you well. Our heavenly Dad has given you the gift of words that “hydrates and refreshes the soul”. I’m with Patti C., on this one…I’m sure the hearts of our brothers and sisters were deeply touched by your words.

  7. Powerful, Rob. Thanks for sharing. I have wanted to visit a leper colony after reading “The Gift of Pain” by Philip Yancey and Dr. Paul Brand. Dr. Brand was one of the first people to determine that people lost their limbs and such like the man you described because they lack the ability to feel pain in those areas and thus cause repetitive injury that won’t heal. You might enjoy reading it after your experience. We will continue to pray that the Holy Spirit continue to use you mightily there.

  8. I shudder to think of the too often times I complain of the most insignificant inconveniences that enter my life. I love being reminded that God loves us all equally, uses us is in a most inconceivable manner, and finds a way to create bridges of hope in thickets of darkness. God bless your journey, your words, your works and the precious people of Sudan.

    I can see a glimpse of what the early church must have experienced in receiving letters from Paul, Timothy and such. What a joy and encouragement to receive such word from those God has called to carry His Good News and extend His love.

    God Bless and God speed!

  9. Wow…. Strong Rain… I’m sure that was from our Lord… how absolutely perfect!! Keep hydrating their souls Rob with the gifts God has given you as Liz said. All of you are a tremendous blessing, thank you all for being there loving and serving our family.

  10. The idea of you all seeing eachother again, when everything is set right, is so hopeful and encouraging.
    I like the name too 🙂

  11. You truly have a gift my brother, and have been given a rare opportunity to see things and feel things and understand.

    You have always been a ‘Deng Mallou’ for me. I agree that the wise man spoke a word from the Lord.

    I look forward to your safe return with Dave, and know that your lives and ours will never be the same.

    I know Eastgate will not be the same…bring the rain my brother.

    Just make sure it isn’t the “rip roaring projectile evacuating kind”, at least not right away…

    I love you Rob – give my affection to Sabet & Suzie.

  12. I LOVE reading your posts! The man from your first post was so right. God told you to go and I am so excited for you, the people you touch in the Sudan, AND for your family here at home who will be touched by your experiences, that you accepted His invitation and challenge. I can’t wait to see the changes in you that will unfold once you come home and for you to pass on the new things to us that God taught you on your trip. (No pressure ;op)
    I’m with Kym and Liz for sure. Strong rain fits you and you are a great pastor!

  13. This brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful picture you have painted for us all back home. Thank you for following the Lord’s leading in going on this journey. You are ministering there and here all at the same time. Talk about putting it all into perspective…super powerful. Praying for you everyday.

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