Photo Credit: Diocese of Kajo Keji
By Bellah Zulu, ACNS
Growing up in South Sudan (then called Sudan), Luduru Silas Aligo was just like any other boy: ambitious, enthusiastic and with a great desire to have the best in life despite being in a country tone apart by many years of war and conflict.
At a tender age, his family sent him to neighbouring Uganda to get a decent education. It was during his time there that he got influenced by his friends to become a gang member and subsequently a hard-core criminal.
“I come from Yei, one of the counties in Central Equatorial,” he said in his native tongue Bari*. “I am a Kakwa by tribe, one of the five ethnic groups that speak the Bari language.”
His fellow gang members took him to the Democratic Republic of Congo to be introduced to witchcraft, which they said would aid him in carrying out his criminal activities. “While there, I was taken into the underworld to get special powers for killing people,” he said. “ I was coming back to Yei as a different person, with new powers and abilities.”
He said his new spiritual powers enabled him to open any lock and putting him in prison was a waste of time because he could open any lock and walk away. But even that was not enough. “I was taken to the cemetery and was given three small stone charms which made me more successful in my criminal activities.”
For fours years, Silas and his other gang members terrorised the people of Juba by stealing and killing. They would usually be armed and Silas admitted killing people using a pistol.
“At one time, for no good reason at all, I had this strong urge to kill my father,” he said. “Luckily when I travelled to where my father lived, I did not find him.”
Back in Kajo Keji Diocese, Silas was invited by a girl in the neighbourhood to go an Anglican evangelism rally that was being held Mangalotore Parish.
He only agreed because he had intentions of disturbing the gathering using his evil powers. Little did he know that moment would be his turning point.
“When I heard the word of God being preached, it struck me like fire and immediately, I felt my powers leaving my body.”
The wind of the Spirit
Silas and the Diocesan Secretary the Revd Capt. Jonathan Soro Bully reported that after the three stones where retrieved and burnt, a strong wind gushed through the gathering, blowing off tents from the buildings nearby. The pastors kept praying throughout till the winds stopped. Silas stayed with the evangelism team and later a group of clergy ministered deliverance to him.
On Sunday 20th October last year, Silas was baptised in a nearby river. “We took him into this river to bury Silas’ old nature with all evil powers and we witnessed a new Silas ascend with new power of God and of the Holy Spirit,” explained the Revd Joseph Aba Duduka.
The Mission Co-ordinator preached during the service and gave him the Bible as symbol of the power in the new life in Jesus Christ. Silas is now undergoing discipleship class with others that got saved during that week.
“When my parents heard about my deliverance, they were very happy because they have never seen me from the time I left home,” he said. “My former gang mates even called me to confirm if I had really given my life to Christ and when I said yes, they decided never to call me again.”
A living witness
The conversion of Silas has brought new meaning to the church in Kajo Keji, which is now emphasising on “going out and preaching to the many people who are in need of the word of God so that they can leave the darkness and see the light of God.”
The Diocesan Secretary said, “We now have the courage that the real essence and power of the church is to go out and evangelise. We have even set up a discipleship school where we are encouraging young people to reach out to fellow young people.”
Young people in South Sudan usually find themselves in dilemma of receiving salvation of living the “good” life. “Young people need to be empowered,” said the Revd Captain Jonathan. “Otherwise they end up falling back into their old sinful ways.”
The Diocesan Secretary challenged other churches in the Anglican Communion to be like the church of Bible times, which was “outgoing.”
“We need to stop the tendency of ringing the bell for people to come to church," adding "Young people are out there and they need the gospel to be presented to them in a way that is relevant to them.”
Silas has himself become quite the evangelist inviting those around him to meet the God who has saved him from destruction. “People need to come and know this God because he is a big God, seeing where he has picked me from.”
*Diocesan Secretary, the Revd Capt. Jonathan Soro Bully, acted as Silas's translator.