On Thursday, we celebrated Thanksgiving, recognizing God’s goodness and giving thanks for all of our blessings.
There are many people across the world⏤people like Joel⏤who have lost everything, who lack food and shelter, who are unable to feast or celebrate, and yet they still recognize God’s goodness. It is a sobering thing to think about, especially when our culture seems intoxicated with Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s commercialism.
It was late evening when Joel saw lights in the neighboring village. It was on fire. His community in Plateau State, Nigeria, had previously been threatened by armed herdsmen in a dispute over land. They believed the attackers were heading their way.
Joel was with two younger brothers still at home. Along with their mother, they decided to flee for their lives when they heard gunshots. But they had to leave behind their father, who only had one leg.
The herdsmen attacked, and in the ensuing chaos, the rest of the family ran in different directions. Joel was shot at but survived, as did his two younger brothers. Joel’s parents were both killed. His mother was shot while sheltering in a neighbor’s house. His father was also shot and the family home burnt down.
“I am a Christian. I pray that God will restore my mind so I can forget what happened. I want to move on with my life. I want to forgive. And to forget. But it is very painful.” - Joel
The brothers fled to a makeshift camp in the nearby city of Jos to join with 6,000 displaced people. With no sanitation, disease spread in the camp and Joel’s youngest brother caught typhoid.
In Jos, Tearfund works with RURCON, offering sanitation workshops to prevent the spread of typhoid and cholera. Through these workshops, Joel and his brothers learned to keep safe and healthy, helping Joel’s brother to recover.
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