Mogadishu, capital of Somalia 1991
A young man is driving his pregnant wife to the hospital. She is in labour and her mother is there to support and comfort her daughter.
Arriving at the hospital, they walk towards the building ….
Civil war has broken out after militia factions ousted the totalitarian military government led by Major General Mohamed Siad Barre. There is constant bloodshed as different factions strive to gain control.
Groups of gunmen burst into the hospital grounds. The young man is killed right in front of his wife and mother in law. He’d tried to get to the car to take them to safety but now he’s dead. The women somehow struggle to the car and drive away, leaving the body of their loved one lying in the car park. They would die too if they stayed. And the unborn baby too.
The young mother gives birth under a tree at the side of a road. There is no medical help. She is bleeding. Heavily. Her mother tries to save her but her daughter slips into death at the roadside. The Grandmother picks up her tiny Grandson and holds him close as tears roll down her face in grief and shock.
The Second Scene:
Refugee Camp Kenya 2003
Thousands of Somali refugees are pouring across the border into Kenya. Many of them go to the United Nations Refugee Camp at Dadaab. Maybe the Grandmother is there with her Grandson who we’ll call Abukah.
If not at Dadaab, they are in a camp just like it. The area is semi-arid, and more so now that countless refugees need firewood and water. The Grandmother joins other women to search for wood. They are defenseless away from the camp and can be attacked at any time. There is often violence in the camp too. Desperate people are often angry people.
Disease is rampant. Aid workers try their best but it’s an uphill battle as hundreds of refuges arrive each week. Even now, years later in 2013, there are over 400,000 Somali refugees at Dadaab. It was built to cater for 90,000.
It isn’t a suitable place for 12 year old Abukah. Or his Grandmother. Refugee workers organise for them to immigrate to New Zealand. It should be a good life for them both, gives them hope. But on the boat on the way, Abukah’s Grandmother dies.
The Third Scene:
Rimutaka Prison, New Zealand
It’s a Sunday afternoon in 2013. Abukah comes to the prison ministry meeting and he’s talking with Henri. Henri listens while Abukah tells his story.
He says after he arrived in New Zealand, he joined the other refugees at the Refugee Centre. He couldn’t speak English, didn’t know the culture. All he knew was the harsh existence in the Refugee Camp in Kenya. But the Salvation Army people were kind. They helped in many ways and he remembered they told him about someone called Jesus. He hadn’t heard about him before.
“What’s the difference between Mohamed and Jesus?” Abukah asks Henri now.
The young Somali man is probably the same age as his father was when he died. There is a deep hurting void in his life. He never knew his parents, both dying on the day he was born, and his Grandmother never lived to see the safety of New Zealand. Drugs didn’t ease the pain, just made things worse.
But God can fill that void. He brings forgiveness, peace, love, acceptance and a new life. As Henri shares about Jesus, he hopes Abukah will take it to heart.
Now, months later, Henri doesn’t know where Abukah is. But God does.
There is hope.