At the young age of 18, Peter Mangar is already a powerful leader. He takes responsibility to make sure that he is always dressed sharply and that his clothes are clean and pressed, no small thing for a young man living in Darfur. He stays at the top of his class, and when he is not in class or studying you will find him volunteering in the medical clinic, playing a competitive game of soccer with his classmates, participating in a student led prayer meeting, or preaching at the nightly boys’ devotion time. He has a tender heart and a tough physique accompanied by a disarming smile and a melodic voice. Peter is a bright young man and serves regularly as a translator for our medical teams. When I observe Peter I cannot help but wonder in amazement – what will this young man become?
Peter clearly remembers the night the Arabs attacked and his parents disappeared. It was years ago, when he was around 7 years old. Young Peter heard the sound of distant drums, then screams, then gunfire. In the panic everyone was running and confusion reigned. “My parents were snatched away by the Arabs and I never saw them again.”
After days of hiding in the bush, a hungry and exhausted Peter came back home but no one was there. “I had no place to go except to my auntie. She was very cruel. Sometimes she would give me scraps of food but other times she would say, ‘I have no food to give you. Why should I give you food when my own children are starving?’”
These were hard years for Peter. “I would go to the market to try to find bits of food but there was so little to be found. The only place I could sleep was in the dirt.” Peter spoke with tears in his eyes, “I was not even a human being. It was like I was an animal.” At times the auntie would scream in Peter’s face, “Why don’t you follow your parents!” All Peter could reply was, “The Arabs took them. If I knew where to find my parents I would follow them. The Arabs took them.”
One day as young Peter was walking through the village of Nyamlel he heard the sound of singing. The sound was beautiful and out of curiosity, he followed the sound of worship and came to a church service. The boy became a regular at church and a follower of Jesus Christ. One day Peter met another boy by the name of James Chol (read more about James Chol here ). James Chol told Peter about a man named James Lual Atak who was rescuing orphans and would one day build a school. Peter followed James Chol and finally found a home – at what would become New Life Ministry (NLM).
James Lual Atak remembers well the first time he met Peter Mangar – “Poor Peter was so skinny; it made me cry just to look at him. He was quite sick also, and it was very difficult for him to hold down any of the food I gave him. He had never been to school, and his clothes were seriously worn out like rags. It was quite terrible.”
Now, 7 years after coming to New Life Ministry, one would have a hard time believing the tragedy that this young one has faced. His trials have forged a vibrant faith, a hopeful trust, and a tender heart that God uses in mighty and unexpected ways with the other children at NLM and even in the community!