Joseph (Persecution Project Foundation)
After being nailed to a board by his master and left for dead — the last in a series of torturous acts — a Sudanese Dinka boy escaped from his bondage and lived to tell his horrific story.
The story of “Joseph,” a Christian, is told in a recent newsletter of the Persecution Project Foundation, an organization that monitors Christian persecution in Africa.
PPF’s Brad Phillips recently returned from visiting Joseph, who originally was sold into slavery at age 7 in 1987.
“I had the privilege of spending a day with this amazing boy who is now called Joseph,” Phillips wrote. “I spoke with him, I interviewed him, I saw his scars, and I saw his eyes. What I saw moved me, and still haunts me.”
Phillips explains that since the 1980s, the Muslim National Islamic Front government has sanctioned the taking of Christians and animists from the south part of the nation to be sold to Muslims as slaves in the north. The two sides have been engaged in a civil war for several years.
As a 7-year-old, Joseph, then called Santino Garang, was sold to his master, Ibrahim. Though Joseph was given an Arab name, Ibrahim referred to him only by the pejorative “Abid,” which means black slave, writes Phillips. For ten years, Joseph remained in bondage to his master.
“During his enslavement “¦,” Phillips wrote, “he was often beaten, tortured and abused by his Arab master. African slaves, especially Christians, are viewed as lower than animals.
“Joseph was raised Christian. His desire to worship was mocked by his master, who told him every day for 10 years that he had no business worshipping since he was of no more value than a donkey.”
One Sunday morning, Joseph heard the hymn singing of a Christian service. He joined into the worship, remembering church services from when he was a young boy.
While Joseph was at church, some of the camels he was in charge of escaped, and his master flew into a rage. Ibrahim, Phillips writes, “swore he would kill Joseph and do to him what had been done to Jesus … he would crucify him.
“After brutally beating Joseph on the head and all over his body, the master laid him out on a wooden plank. He then nailed Joseph to the plank by driving nine-inch nails through his hands, knees and feet. He then poured acid on Joseph’s legs to inflict even greater pain, and finally left him for dead.”
Miraculously, Joseph did not die, even though he lay on the plank for seven days. He survived through the kindness of his master’s son, who brought him food and water, and eventually took him to a medical facility.
“In case you are wondering,” wrote Phillips, “no criminal charges were brought against Joseph’s master, because he acted within his ‘rights’ under currently practiced ‘sharia law.’ To say that Christians are second-class citizens in much of the Islamic world (not just the Sudan) is a cruel understatement.”
After Joseph returned from the hospital, his master saw little value in him since he was crippled from the nails being driven through his knees. Joseph was “redeemed” by Christian slave redeemers who arranged his return home to his village in Bahr el Gazal.
When he arrived back in his home village, the elders thought he should have a new name, so they named him after Joseph of the Bible, who was sold into slavery but later was used mightily by God.
Wrote Phillips: “Joseph still desperately needs your prayers. By God’s grace Joseph survived kidnapping, the loss of his parents, ten years of enslavement, and near death by crucifixion. But while Joseph is free in body, he is still in great pain physically and emotionally. He bears the marks of his crucifixion in his body and the scars of his torment in his soul. He is wounded and broken in his spirit. And his is haunted by the memories of hundreds of other children from his community who perished or remained enslaved in the north.
“Joseph is one of a small number of people in the 21st century who knows what it means to be crucified because of his Christian faith. But the reality is that hundreds of thousands of our fellow Christians in the Sudan have been enslaved, driven from their homes, hunted and murdered by devoted followers of Islam. This war of Islamic cruelty has raged for centuries in the Sudan. Please remember our Sudanese brethren in your prayers, and do all you can to aid us in the relief of their suffering.”