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December 12, 2013

A reunion in Africa

Native of war-ravaged South Sudan sees sister after 30 years

(Continued)

“I’m getting used to it now,” he says of the cold.

Bior’s American rescue would not have been possible without the help of Christian organizations, including Gordon College graduates working with Catholic Charities in Boston, the Missions Committee of Christ Church in Hamilton and Christ the Redeemer in Danvers. That’s a debt he is quick to acknowledge.

“The people of my church, they supported me day and night,” he says. “They took me in as part of the family, the Christian family.”

Showing gratitude to the country that gave him citizenship, Bior accepted a job with the State Department from 2007 to 2010. As a fluent Arabic speaker, he translated for U.S. forces in Iraq.

“It was like I was back in South Sudan,” he says. “The bombings. The land mines.”

It wasn’t lost on him that this was a war involving the same sort of people who had savaged his homeland.

“We got shot at every day. Every day. But I thank God. God brought me home,” he says.

By 2001, he had finally made contact with his family. At that time, his mom was still alive, which had a startling impact on Bior. She promptly selected his wife.

“My mother’s bride,” he says, laughing at the idea of marriage to a woman he’d never met living thousands of miles away. “I called myself the invisible husband.”

He paid a dowry of 150 cows. In 2006, fellow parishioner Caleb Loring helped bring Akur Mawut to America. The couple now has three children: Caleb, Dean and Deng, and one on the way.

The Rev. Malcolm Reid of Christ the Redeemer, meanwhile, has made frequent trips to Africa, supporting the church’s missions, including one in Kampala, Uganda. It occurred to him he could bring his friend Anyang to see his sister, his lone surviving sibling, in nearby Sudan.

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