By Ariana Castro Acuña
KAMPALA, Uganda — Her sweet smile made IMB missionary Curt Iles forget to ask what made her a child with special needs. Adeit, a little girl from South Sudan, instantly captured his heart when he was visiting Alere Refugee Camp in Uganda.
Adeit belongs to the Dinka people, a group that Iles and his wife, Dede, are trying to reach with the Gospel. Because the different camps provide refuge to a multitude from various people groups, including the Dinka, Nuer, Madi and Kuku, the Ileses have had the opportunity to visit thousands of refugees who have left South Sudan.
After a week of visiting several camps and witnessing “enough to break any heart,” as Iles writes in his blog, they came to Alere Refugee Camp. There, they met Adeit, a quiet, 9-year-old girl who is quick to offer a smile, and noticed that her foot faced backward. Iles handed her a box of UNO cards and took a photo of her, but the impact she made on his heart was much greater than a game of cards. The missionary could not stop thinking about her and found himself looking at her photo every day.
Soon, Iles met Joel Vanderford, a doctor with Samaritan’s Purse, who told him about the work of a hospital nearby. Vanderford explained that the hospital did rehabilitation work at no cost for children with physical problems and that the only charge would be for transportation and lodging. Adeit received the medical attention she needed and underwent two surgeries; her foot now faces forward. Iles says he fully expects her to start running foot races soon.
Because of the relationship that leaders from Alere Baptist Church had with Adeit and her family, as well as their concern for Adeit’s handicap, the family members were also led to personal relationships with Christ.
“They made a statement of faith through the pre-trip visit of Pastor Joseph Anyovi,” says Iles, referring to the trip the family took to the hospital.
Today, God is using Adeit’s story to reach others in the camp with the Good News of Jesus. Iles says that because of the miracle that was performed on Adeit’s foot, her family has come down to witness it for themselves, and God has received all the glory in the process.
“Not only is it her story, but it’s God’s story,” Iles said. “His hand has been all over the journey to bring her to this point.”
Ariana Castro Acuña served as a summer intern at IMB.