Sudanese priest brings family to US

When last we heard from The Rev. Zachariah Char, his family was caught up in bureaucratic red tape and his wife had been attacked, and things weren’t looking good for the young priest reuniting with her and their young son, now almost 2. But two weeks ago, the “Lost Boy” priest went back to Kenya to meet his son, Kur, for the first time.

When he returned to Grand Rapids late Saturday night, he was accompanied by his wife and son; some 100 well-wishers were on hand to welcome them home.

“I didn’t lose hope when the process was very difficult,” Char, pastor of Sudanese Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids, said Sunday.

“I knew that God will open the way.”

Char came to the United States in 2001 with other Lost Boys of Sudan who trekked 1,000 miles to flee civil war in their homeland. He left Thon at Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp where they both grew up but returned in 2004 to marry her.

Their arrival brought hope for others, including Deng Reng, who has a wife and son in Kenya, and Michael P. Kuol, who has a wife and daughter there.

Reng and Kuol celebrated at Grace Episcopal.

But they also talked of extreme frustration and wondered whether they would one day be unified with their wives and children.

“You have a lot of internal frustration about missing somebody,” said Abraham K. Deng, whose wife remains in Kenya.

“It makes it difficult.”

Char understands the frustration. He has friends here with wives in the refugee camp. He met the women while there, the hardest part of his trip. All of the women knew his story and wondered if they would ever be reunited with their husbands here.

“I met with 17 husbands’ wives. They’re asking about America. They want to see what their husbands are doing here. Even some of them, they say, ‘Zach? Zach? My husband talks about you.'”

Even while being exhausted by travel, going to church Sunday morning, and having an apartment filled with friends celebrating that afternoon, Char said he felt complete. Now, he said, he can be a better pastor. He can study — he’s a senior at Kuyper College — without worrying about his family’s safety.

Full story here.

Other past stories on Char are here, here.

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