I have one such friend whom I do not see very often. However, when I do see him extraordinary things happen. I have known for some years now that he did not just show up by coincidence. There are those friends who are placed in your path for a purpose. His purpose in my life is to help me maintain my perspective on humanity and compassion; not just the world's, but my own.
Last fall I had all but completely lost my faith in God and humanity. Jacob was there for me as he always has been since we first met a few years ago. When no one else would stand with me, he was there.
I met Jacob in my office several years ago. In those days, I was struggling in the wildnerness of darkness trying to reach the light at the end of the tunnel. I was lost in a world where others preferred to stand in judgment and fear of me instead of trying to help me. When I first learned Jacob is a pastor, I quickly fell into judgment of him. I already knew he was going to be just like the rest. Just as quickly I learned Jacob was indeed different than those I had encountered in the past.
Jacob had come from a country half way around the world and somehow found himself traveling on the same road as I. He was not traveling as I was, he just seemed to be walking with me. As we walked along the dusty road, he told me his story. It is one of the most tragic, yet inspiring stories I have ever heard in my life. Pastor Jacob is a Lost Boy of Sudan, but so much more than that.
His mother and father were murdered when he was only six years old because they were Christians. He trekked across the desert and back before finding refuge in an IRC camp in Kenya. He had been hunted in the night as prey to wild animals, as well as by other humans. Emerging from the bush emaciated and near death the boys entered the camp which would serve as their saving grace. Jacob talked at length with me about what he believes. When I asked him how it was that his faith never faltered, he simply said because it was all he had; indeed all he has.
Last fall when my faith faltered to the dangerous point of breaking my soul, Jacob was there for me. He wasn't just preaching a good message; he was being the message. He talked with me for long periods of time. He was assuring me that God was right beside me. He listened to my heart and soul as it cried out for mercy and peace. He witnessed the tears when I cried. He gave me what I couldn't find anywhere else, no matter how hard I had tried. He borrowed me some of his faith to carry me through. He welcomed me with arms wide open. He was my hope in the dark of the night. He is not a miracle worker, in fact he is one of the most humble men I know. I still struggle with my faith, and he still walks beside me as my extraordinary friend. Some people really are gifts to be loved and cherished with all our hearts.
Let there be love. Let there be light. Let there be hope in the dark of the night....