santinoMT. JULIET, Tenn. (BNc) by Ken Thomas — Santino Anuer Haar is a member of the group of Sudanese refugees who came to the USA under the “Lost Boys” program, an effort to give a new start to young men who had been displaced by the on-going strife in his native country.

Just two years ago, those in the South voted (by a 98+% majority) to become a sovereign nation separate from the nation to the north which is dominated by Muslim forces. It declared itself committed to be governed as a free country where the English language would help unify the many tribes that call the land home.

Santino came to Tennessee and eventually ended up in Ken Thomas’ math class. Eventually, Ken asked about his background and then told Santino about the Sudan Project which the Mt. Juliet church is leading in. They also began a Bible study.

Don Humphrey, from the Mt. Juliet congregation, and Ken traveled to Gallatin to meet Santino in his apartment.

Santino for the past two years has been president of the Panaroo Community, a network of several hundred Sudanese refugees from Unity State, on the border of South Sudan and Sudan (North). They had already developed a plan to raise money to build a clinic to help relieve the health problems of malaria, oil-polluted water, and other maladies.

This community also had groups in Canada, Australia, and England, and Santino has spent many sleepless nights trying to unify this group behind the project.

After Santino saw the presentation Don gave to the Mt. Juliet church a few months ago, he wanted his community to see what the church had done in East Equatoria and invited “Dr. Don” to share that with a convention in Omaha in May.

Don and Richard Stevens traveled to Omaha where the presentation was received by the group and two members of the South Sudanese parliament, with great interest. Santino urged the assembled group to find a church of Christ when they went home.

A member of Parliament made the statement that the church of Christ is welcome in Sudan.

Of more immediate importance is that Santino has asked members of the church to make contact with his family (now living in Nairobi, Kenya) and teach them what he has learned. With his work in Gallatin he supports a wife, a daughter who is in medical school, a son in high school, and two younger children, besides a brother and a nephew who is a war orphan. At the same time he is working on a degree from Vol State.

Before his home was burned down and he was separated from his parents his family was in what he calls “traditional” religion. Later he was converted to the Anglican faith, and then received his name “Santino” from a priest who converted him to Catholicism. He was active as a Catholic, teaching catechism to new or prospective Catholics.

As he studied with Ken he reflected, “When I taught catechism, I didn’t know anything about the Bible, and neither did the people I taught.”

Santino was impressed with the people in the Lord’s church who carried and knew their Bibles.

He wears in his forehead the scars of Dinka tradition which designate him as a trustworthy brave man, but since his baptism into Christ this past Sunday, he will bear the marks of Christ whose own body was scarred and maimed for our sins.

May God bless him as a warrior for Christ in the war against Satan’s power, and may his example of courage inspire many to follow Jesus. He is an American citizen now, but more importantly he is a part of the Kingdom of God under King Jesus.

His spiritual progress has been advanced by the Mt. Juliet church, Hartsville Pike congregation in Gallatin, and Beech Grove, near Murfreesboro, as he has visited them. Please pray for him and his family.

Article published originally on the Mt. Juliet congregation’s website. Ken is a member of the body of Christ in Beech Grove.