One of my all-time favorite stories is the account of Joseph’s life, beginning in Genesis 37 when he was seventeen years old, and ending with his death in Genesis 50. The subtitles alone give an intriguing glimpse of the drama, conflict, betrayal, injustice, cunning, and ultimate triumph of his remarkable life. Check it out (with my mini synopses):
- Joseph’s Dreams (in which he foolishly brags to his brothers about his dreams of future greatness)
- Joseph Sold by His Brothers (in which their jealousy gets the best of them, Joseph is sold as a slave, and he gets his first taste of betrayal and injustice)
- Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife (in which he determines to be the best slave ever, gains favor and trust with his master only to be thrown in prison for the very thing he refuses to do, and gets his second taste of betrayal and injustice)
- Joseph Interprets Two Prisoners’ Dreams (in which he determines to be the best prisoner ever, gains favor and trust with the warden, gives good news to one of Pharaoh’s servants and asks for a returned favor, is forgotten for two more years, and gets his third, all-too-familiar taste of betrayal and injustice)
- Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams (in which thirteen years after he was first sold as a slave, he stands before the most powerful man in the world, calmly gives God credit for his gifts, interprets cosmically important dreams, and hatches a plan to save the known world from starvation)
- Joseph Rises to Power (in which he gains favor and trust with Pharaoh and basically runs Egypt; no biggie)
- Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt (in which his brothers come to buy food and don’t recognize him, so he messes with them a little bit)
- Joseph’s Brothers Return to Egypt (in which they come back for more food and he messes with them again)
- Joseph Tests His Brothers (in which the brothers humble themselves, and Judah confesses their sins and offers himself as a slave in place of Benjamin)
- Joseph Provides for His Brothers and Family (in which Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers and says, “It was not you who sent me here, but God.” BOOM!)
- Joseph Brings His Family to Egypt (and then . . .)
- Jacob and Joseph Reunited (and then . . .)
- Jacob’s Family Settles in Goshen (and then . . .)
- Joseph and the Famine (in which he exchanges grain for land and buys the whole world for Pharaoh, and then . . .)
- Jacob Blesses Ephraim and Manasseh (aka, Joseph’s sons, and then . . .)
- Jacob Blesses His Sons (and then . . .)
- Jacob’s Death and Burial (and then . . .)
- God’s Good Purposes (“. . . you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” MEMORIZE THAT and then . . .)
- The Death of Joseph. (The End.)
Only not The End, really. Because there are ripples through history and will be until Jesus comes back again.
And all that to say . . . Kocho. When I think about Kocho, I think of Joseph. How sometimes life doesn’t seem to make sense, and injustice is real. And in those times, we have a choice. We can whine, complain, and give up. Or we can believe that the God who sent Joseph to Egypt and meant it for good is the same God at work in our lives today.
Last October I shared Kocho’s story. (You can read it here if you missed it.) Kocho is from the Nuba Mountains, lives in a refugee camp in Doro, South Sudan, and works as a nurse assistant for Doctor’s Without Borders — both to help others and to try to save money to pay his way through school. And it seems like every single step he tries to take into his future dreams is met with roadblocks, setbacks, and miles of pointless red tape.
He’s been trying to get a medical degree to return to the Nuba Mountains and help his people, who for years have been caught in the crossfire between the government of Sudan and the rebels occupying their territory. But, as I explained in my previous post, Kocho is a man without an official ID. He has no papers and can’t obtain them, because anyone from the Nuba Mountains is considered a rebel by association. And without papers, it’s hard to be accepted anywhere for study, or even to cross borders, for that matter.
Kocho is brilliant, gifted, and eager, but one after another, doors slam in his face. Just when it looks like a way has opened, rules change for one program, or random requirements are added for another one. And what does he do? Wherever he finds himself, he determines to be the best he can. Just like Joseph.
He smiles. He serves. And when you ask him how he feels about the delays, he says God must want to teach him patience. He also says that he prays he will never achieve any success that would shift his focus away from Christ and onto himself. And he means it.
So, Kocho is content. He continues to work as a nurse assistant. He also pastors youth, teaches and leads singing in his church, and is currently studying business — partly because it was the only program he could get into for now, and partly to pave the way for entrance into medical school in the future.
Kocho’s grades in business school last fall
And even as he smiles and serves and works hard at whatever his hand finds to do, he has no idea how he will pay for the education he needs to be able to eventually return to help his suffering people in the Nuba Mountains.
Cathy and Ruth in Doro, South Sudan
So his friends (and mine), Ruth and Cathy, set up a fund. And you’re invited to give. And to pray. You’re also invited to share Kocho’s story, because the only way anyone will know about this fund is if people like you and me help spread the word.
And someday? When all God means for good in Kocho’s life bears its fullest fruit, we will have the joy of knowing we were part of this Joseph story — a story setting ripples in motion that I believe will continue to spread, bringing salvation and healing and hope to many, until Jesus comes back again.
Because it wasn’t a government or a war or rebels or armies or chance that sent him here.
It was God.
P.S. Whatever you choose to do,
Thank You, friends.
You always amaze.