LUKE 17:17— “Were not all ten cleansed?” Jesus asked. “Where then are the other nine? Was no one found except this foreigner” to return and give glory to God? Then Jesus said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well!”…
By Jon Pen de Ngong, Nairobi, Kenya
April 9, 2017 (SSB) — Rev. Paul Deng Chol stood beside Bishop Ezekiel Diing Ajang Malangdit of Twic East Diocese and waved at the congregation of St. Luke’s Parish, Ngumo, Nairobi, on Sunday, 2 April 2017. Rt. Rev. Ezekiel Diing has promoted Paul Deng to a position of a canon, elevating him to the status of a bishopric adviser.
Instead of thanking Bishop Diing, Rev. Paul surprisingly asked members of the Jesh Ahmar (Red Army) whose membership dates back to Pinyudo, Western Ethiopia, to raise their hands. A handful of them did.
The Canon bowed his head before the faithful in salutation to ‘Jesh Ahmar’ and thanked them for what he described as dream come true. “You made me who I am, today,” he added.
Though it is Pastor Paul that should be appreciated and awarded by the Red Army for his hard work of evangelization during the days of liberation struggle. Bishop Ezekiel explained how hard that pastor worked among the thousands of unaccompanied minors all the way from Sudan to Ethiopia in 1987, through Kakuma in 1991.
Planked by Rev. Can. Rebecca Lueth and others, Paul Deng jubilated. He voiced out his gratitude to everybody that had built him, especially members of the Kongor Community that always help promote him by coincidence.
Besides, Mary Awak Deng Aguer and her husband Kur Garang Deng, a diplomat in Kenya, were called out for a special hand clap for making their church legend so elegant and dignified.
The family had donated the smartest cassock and other clerical outfits to Canon Paul Deng (see picture), Bishop Gabriel Kuol Garang, suffragan for Wernyol Diocese in Twic East, Jonglei State, and other clergymen.
Mary Awak is equally the parish secretary to this South Sudanese Episcopalian community of St. Luke’s church at Kenyatta Market in Nairobi. Rev. David Chol Deng, pastor in charge of St. Luke’s and head of the South Sudanese (Dinka) congregations in Nairobi, congratulated Rev. Paul Deng and Amb. Kur’s family, besides all the committed and generous parishioners, for always taking care of their church leaders.
Pastor Deng continued with his historical thanksgiving to the group, whose majority now lives in the West in the name of ‘the Lost Boys of Sudan’.
“I kindly invite all of you leaders, members of Red Army and elders, including the family of Kur Garang Deng, for a group photo. Please, send that picture and the news out there through the internet to my beloved Jesh Ahmr communities in Australia, USA, and other parts of the world, including back home.”
He said he just ran out of words to remember the contribution of his colleagues under Bishop Nathaniel Garang and the pre-independence freedom fighters of South Sudan, both in the spiritual and political struggles for his long oppressed people.
“Tell them I am praying for a possibility of visiting them and commemorating our good old days in Australia or USA in the near future,” he reminded Jon Pen de Ngong, the blogger, who is a member of the congregation.
At his late 50s, Canon Paul Deng still vividly recalls the best and worst days of the Sudanese (now South Sudanese) liberation struggle under the SPLA/SPLM, a legacy he is proud of despite the current challenges of a nascent nation building.
Generally, the congregation was so grateful to Bishop Ezekiel Diing for honouring their veteran evangelist and bringing him for that special introduction in their midst.
“Our veterans deserve more than this awards. People like Paul Deng are welcomed anywhere in our community. We owe them more than this,” said Daniel, a worshipper who sat beside this writer during the church service.
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