Part Two: Restoration

This is part two of a three-part series. You can read part one here.

Restoration is the act of repairing or renewing the history of one’s life when something has been taken from us, especially something we find painful to lose. Restoration of what was lost helps us put the past to rest and move on toward the future.

The problem with being restored is that we often look toward the person(s) who caused our loss to make the restoration happen. After all, it is their fault we were harmed! Often, the person(s) who harmed us also cannot or will not restore what we lost.

My first job was in a computer assembly plant with some Sudanese friends. We worked the night shift on my first day. On my second night of work, our driver, secured for us by the YMCA, picked us up around two in the afternoon to transport us to work. He was Ethiopian, and we paid him by the trip.

On this trip, his girlfriend was in the back seat. He put music on the radio and kept himself very busy looking back at his girlfriend. As he was distracted this way, he ran a red light. We hit another car, and the impact rolled our van over three times, breaking all the windows while wobbling all over the road. No one was wearing seatbelts because the van was over-loaded. 

My forehead, knees, and neck were injured. That was when we found out that our driver had no license and was not insured. He was a Muslim who spoke very little English. The police asked him what had happened. In order not to implicate himself, the driver pretended not to understand English and kept saying to the police Allahu Akbar (God is great). When the police discovered that I could speak a little bit of English, they began to question me. The officer asked how many were dead. I told him that no one died because God had been with us from Africa, and he did not bring us here just to die!

An ambulance arrived, and two of us were sent to Memorial Hospital. The paramedics strapped me to a gurney and secured my neck in case of injury. They kept calling my name along the way to make sure I was conscious. I felt that I was not seriously injured, so I wondered why they were going through this trouble. When we arrived at the hospital, they rushed my friend and me into the emergency room and cut off our clothes, leaving us in our underwear.

They covered us with their paper clothes while taking x-rays and determined that we were okay. After a couple of hours of observation, they released us in our paper clothes since they had discarded our cut-off clothes. We returned to the apartment and recovered for two weeks until we felt ready to return to work. When we tried to go back to work, we were informed that we had lost our jobs.

Not long after that, a lawyer came to visit us at the apartment, saying that she had heard about our accident. She proposed to file an insurance claim against the driver so that he would pay our medical expenses and compensate us for the physical injuries sustained. She promised us we could collect money for this case because we had injuries. She even sent us to a physical therapist who gave me several therapy sessions for my neck. It seemed as if everything we lost would be restored.

A week later, she abandoned us and told us something about not being able to get enough information. She had seen we had no money to pay her. We asked her why she proposed the insurance claim and even sent us to treatment and then quit. Of course, we did not get any satisfaction from her, and we had to pay all the bills without a job or help in that regard. We also had hospital bills to pay with no money. Therefore, all of this was a learning process for me.

When my friends and I came to this country, we brought nothing to America, but now we have a lot to be grateful for. However, it was not the people who harmed us who restored us, but rather it was God himself who cared for us and restored our lives.

This is what it means to forgive; we no longer look to the person who harmed us for satisfaction, but we give the debt they owe us to God and receive satisfaction from him instead. Only then can we experience the restoration that comes from God, which is not only perfect, but abundant.

What can we, as South Sudanese, understand from what the Bible says about restoration? In Zechariah, God says, ” Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” (Zechariah 9:12 NIV). This is the abundance of which I speak; God will give back more than what we lost.

What kind of restoration does God want to do for the South Sudanese? First, he desires to re-establish a friendship with him, that we may enjoy eternal life. Second, there are four key areas of human life in which we can expect restoration to manifest. They are Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, and Material. However, we cannot expect God to accomplish this with no work on our part. We must participate in the restoration of our lives.

Why is it essential for South Sudanese to participate in the restoration of our lives? While keeping history plays a critical role in protecting the past, ecological restoration and the rebuilding of infrastructure restores the future. We must remember, but move on from our past. Through affecting positive change in the environment, we participate in our own healing, allowing other pressing needs to be addressed, including equity, security, and prosperity.

God has given me a vision of restoration for my people in South Sudan. My dream is to inspire young children by bringing education to them. In the Bible, restoration is always given abundantly. When something is restored, it is always better than it was to begin with. God promises us a better way, a better future, a better life.

Then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with.

(Deuteronomy 30:3-10 ESV).

We lost much in our former lives in South Sudan, but God has given us a new chance in America. Let us not take this chance for granted but strive, with God’s help, to achieve our very best and share it with our fellow South Sudanese.

Prayer for Confession and Forgiveness:

Heavenly God, we genuinely feel sorrow for the wrong we have done; O my God, I thank you for loving me even though I have done nothing to earn it. I am sorry for the wrong I have done, for not loving others and not loving you. My God, help your people. Accept my request for forgiveness and let me have your blessing on me. Let my prayer of praise be a sweet-smelling sacrifice to you.

Oh God, bless South Sudan and her exiles scattered around the world!