John and Carol Arnott are the Founding Pastors and Presidents of Catch the Fire (formerly known as the Toronto...
We first new JB about four years ago when he was saved in a crusade in a remote village. He is a carpenter and was there part of a construction crew, building a school. But the job ended and like so many men do in Southern Sudan, he just disappeared and we lost total contact with him. It turns out that after leaving us JB drifted away from his walk with God and focused on finding work here and there. But trouble came into his life and he began thinking about how much better things were when he was serving God. A few months ago JB showed up at our Church with a testimony of renewed faith in God. Two things had happened in his Life; one, after trying everything possible to conceive a child including going to a specialist in far away Uganda, God challenged him to trust in Him and when JB responded in faith they conceived a baby that is now about four months old.
The other thing that God did to intervene in JB’s life happened in a family dispute with his brother. The family owned a large plot of land in northern Uganda, a part of which had been set aside for JB’s future use. He came home from one of his jobs to find that his younger brother had sold the plot of land that had been given to JB, but didn’t sell his own plot. This infuriated JB and he got in a huge verbal battle with his brother. In the end he cursed his brother, swore that he would never talk to his family members again, including his mother, who he blamed for not intervening and stopping the land sale.
After the big family blow up, JB returned to Sudan, and resumed his life with the only family he had left his wife, very unlike the typical African family situation. Not long after he fell sick with a fever, he thought it was malaria (malaria gets blamed for almost every fever in Sudan). He did the normal things one does out here to cure malaria but he didn’t get better, the fever drug on for weeks. He went to the doctor and they tested him for all the normal things out here, it wasn’t malaria, typhoid, yellow fever, or worms. By then he lost had his appetite and could hardly eat anything for days. He was starting to get alarmed, “maybe his family had cursed him”. By this time he could hardly walk.
Again he began thinking about God and remembered his bible he left behind. He sent word asking for his Bible to be sent to him. His Bible couldn’t be found; stolen Bibles are a big problem out here. Grand theft Bible—the sentence is the perpetrator gets saved. Anyway, some of the other books that we had given him were still there, as he thumbed through them The Importance of Forgiveness by John and Carol Arnott captured him and he began reading. John and Carol gave us a few boxes of the booklet to give away out here, and it is really needed after 25 years of civil war. This country that has been dominated by animistic thinking for generations is filled with murder, jealousy, treachery and the belief that if my neighbor gets blessed there may be no blessing for me.
JB said the thing that struck him most powerfully were Jesus’ words, “Your heavenly Father will not forgive you if you don’t forgive others, and God will forgive you by the same measure you have forgiven others.” He immediately began thinking about his troubles with his brother and mother. As he continued reading he said his heart was pounding harder and harder inside him, he knew he had to do something. Even though he still had a fever and was feeling very weak, he got out of bed and went to hire a “boda” a motorcycle taxi, and crossed the Sudan/Uganda border headed for his family’s home.
When he arrived at the family compound he wasn’t sure what to expect, but before anyone else could say anything, like the Prodigal Son, he launched into his speech asking forgiveness for blowing up and saying evil things to his family. He told his mom and brother that he forgave them for selling his property. Everyone ended up repenting and asking forgiveness, they all hugged shook hands and let go of their resentment and anger.
Shortly he was on his way back home, and as he reached the border he realized that he was getting hungry, soon after he noticed that the fever was gone. When he arrived he asked his wife to prepare something for him to eat when he finished he asked for more, he was completely well. The power of forgiveness had restored a family and healed the sick.
This archived article was written by John Arnott for release in Aug, 2010. Circumstances and situations may have changed regarding the author, locations and ministries. This content may therefore be outdated or misinformed.
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