Missionary Moment: Challenges, Blessings for South Sudanese Elder
Contributed By Lynette Pierce Shulz, Church News contributor
- The journey of Elder Jervase Makur Dhoul Ajok from living in South Sudan to serving as a full-time missionary has been filled with both challenges and blessings.
- He escaped being a child soldier in what was called the “Lost Boys of Sudan” and was helped by a family who gave him shelter.
- He met missionaries and was baptized in 2008, and in June he entered the Ghana Missionary Training Center and is now serving in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission.
The journey of Elder Jervase Makur Dhoul Ajok from living in South Sudan to serving as a full-time missionary has been filled with both challenges and blessings.
He was born in 1989 in the village of Ananatak, South Sudan, when his country was in the midst of a severe drought. One night in 1998 his village was attacked because “our villagers were accused of hiding rebels. Hence, they raided the house where my family was sleeping. They started by shooting my uncle, his wife, and his son,” said Elder Ajok. He was forced to flee his country because of civil unrest.
Young Jervase ran “into the bush, crying, leaving behind my father, mother, five brothers, and two sisters where everyone was lying among those who had been killed.”
He found himself in the village of Chukudum and, in late 1998, was forced to become a child soldier in what was called the “Lost Boys of Sudan.” After three months he escaped, “because [he] did not want to be a soldier.” While he was hiking to another village with other refugees, his camp was bombed and his leg injured by shrapnel. Elder Ajok said, “At that point, my life became so horrible because there was no food, water, or shelter. We were attacked by wildlife, and everything was in total chaos and got worse for the next week.”
In March 2000 he was taken to a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. Elder Ajok said that during his stay in the camp, many would try to steal others’ possessions, and he fled to Nairobi, where a kind family gave him shelter.
“I thanked Heavenly Father … because a good Samaritan took me into his house before helping me look for other Sudanese people. I was very grateful for his kindness.”
In Nairobi, said Elder Ajok, “I did not have a person that could care for me if I became sick. At this point, I became friends with a fellow Sudanese countryman and went to the Catholic church one Sunday.” He later met two LDS missionaries, who introduced him to the bishop, and he was baptized a member of the Church in late 2008.
Elder Ajok remained in Nairobi and enrolled in school with the bishop’s help. “[The bishop] paid my school fees until I completed my [high school] in 2011.”
In August 2012, Elder Ajok walked 1,000 miles back to South Sudan and met with the branch president there who helped him find food and shelter and obtain a passport in order to serve a full-time mission. Elder Ajok worked as a security guard to earn mission funds and was able to locate his mother, two brothers, and two sisters who survived the village attack.
In June, Elder Ajok entered the Ghana Missionary Training Center and is now serving in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission.