They sneak up on you when you least expect it, and take your heart into new territory. Yesterday was our first Turkana funeral, and it was for a teen whose life was abruptly snuffed out.
Peter Nato came to us last year, an 18 year old orphan in need of student fees for boarding school. His parents had been killed in the war, but Peter was bright and knew he needed an education. Although we receive a lot of requests for school fees, Peter’s was different. God’s presence was with him, and as I prayed for him to find a sponsor (as I do with all who come with requests), I felt drawn that we were the ones. Joel met with him and agreed. Peter’s previous poor grades had excluded him from an international sponsor program; but we agreed to take him on for one term, with the understanding that we would review his performance after one term.
In that first term of Grade 9, or Form 1 in the Kenya school system, Peter came back with the ranking of number one in his class. He was so proud of his grades. So proud that he had not let us down. Proud that proof of his hard work was apparent on the report card. We’re kicking ourselves that we didn’t capture a picture of his joy. Sometimes you get caught up in the day to day and think there’s always tomorrow…
On several occasions when Peter was on break from school, he would stop by to greet us and see how he could help us. “I don’t just want to be idle when I’m out of school,” he said, “Idleness is not good.” Idle he was not. As a member of Student Council at Loki Secondary, he inspired the students with truth and to do what was right. He was active in the AIC (Africa Inland Church) teaching Sunday school, and was always a part of the revivals that came to Loki: translating, teaching, and praying with those in the surrounding villages. The light and passion in his eyes was undeniable – he would always say, “God surely has a plan for my life.”
Peter was the first student killed in the attack on his boarding school by an enraged student who had been suspended for fighting. It was a targeted attack; the assailant had gathered several friends and was looking to kill the principal, teachers, and specific students he had vendettas against. Peter, being a leader in the school, was a target. Only God knows how it all played out that sad, sad night. Eight were killed in total, several girls given the opportunity to exchange their purity for a bullet. Evil targeting goodness and purity.
The tragedy, and the evil that provoked it, is magnified with the attacker being from Taposa tribe in South Sudan. Tensions bubble just below the surface at all times, and is now close to exploding. We have stood in prayer that God will ease the tensions between the Taposa and Turkana, and that the righteousness that Peter stood for will encourage others to stand firm in Light.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when fully grown brings forth death.
~ James 1:12-15