Imagine losing your parents and going to sleep each night knowing that the next day, you may not survive. Despite this, imagine clinging to an insane and virtually impossible dream of being a lawyer to help people even though you’re in the middle of a civil war… Aduei Riak is a Sudanese woman who lived through that hellish experience. At the age of three, she was separated from her parents and joined the Lost Boys, a group of children in the same predicament who were marching away from the Sudanese Civil war. She bravely accepted her situation, not her fate, and lived through it.

Riak took the opportunity offered to her and earned a higher education that enabled her to change her fate. One newspaper says, “You would never know that as a young girl she walked 1000 miles to flee a civil war in her homeland. Or that Riak, now twenty-three, came of age in a refugee camp, and until last summer had not seen her mother since she was six.” First, she was thrown into life before she was supposed to – she lost her parents, accepted the possibility of death, and she pushed through it, despite the hopelessness of the situation. Eventually, her perseverance earned her a job as a paralegal, which is a job that requires a bachelor’s and associate’s degree, while the most common level of education achieved by Americans who have never seen war in their lives is a high school diploma.

Secondly, granted, Riak was one of the 1% of refugees who actually received higher education, but that is all the more reason why she is a hero. No one would have looked down at her for not pursuing higher education because of her horrible situation as a child. Everyone would have understood if she had gone off to England or America to pursue a financially rewarding life. Instead, she refused to take any sympathy and made a way for herself in the dark world she was given. Through hard work, courage, and perseverance, she changed her fate, her fortune, into something to be admired. Students can connect to her story; it will give them hope and drive to make a bright future for themselves, despite the many, many challenges life will put out.

Aduei Riak is a stellar speaker who helps the lives of middle school kids. Riak grew up in the middle of a civil war, with fighting and bloodshed involuntarily part of her daily life. She defied all expectations, and despite her horrible circumstance, she rode the currents of change without looking back to make a new life for herself. We can all respect the amazing things she accomplished and use her story to pull us through hard times.

                                                                     Reporter Geoffrey Johnson

The same kind of struggle is often experienced by believers who come from homes in the ghettos and public housing areas of many cities in our own country. But they stand by what is said in Proverbs:  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. [1] Also, the Apostle James said:

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.[2] And the Apostle Paul gave hope to many when he wrote: …being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.[3]

So, look around you and assess your situation. Is it better or worse than those in Africa or our inner cities? Let’s stop over empathizing the negative things in our lives and start enjoying the good things God has given us. And then, let’s sincerely pray for those like Aduei Riak and children on the street in drug-infested areas of our major metropolitan areas. You may not be able to help them physically or even financially, but you can help by adding your prayers to theirs. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Proverbs 3:5-6

[2] James 1:12

[3] Colossians 1:11-12

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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