The measure of JRS work in accompanying refugees can be determined only by the love we share, revealed in our mutual giving. For countless JRS workers, it is displaced people, outcasts, and victims of war who are messengers of the spirit of joy and service found in the Gospel.
Delise Salum is such a messenger for me at JRS Burundi. When I witness his joyful presence in the team and recall what he has lived, I find myself arriving ever closer to a deeper appreciation of the wonder that is the human species.
Delise grew up selling nuts on the streets to help his mother buy vegetables from the local market. His father worked as a mechanic and shared with Delise not only his profession but also his Muslim faith. When war broke out in Burundi in 1994, soldiers liquidating Hutu neighborhoods murdered Delise’s father.
Their home ransacked, Delise’s family had no choice but to join thousands of people fleeing the violence. Their long journey over the next three years would take them to former Zaire and to the hills above Bujumbura, where they ate raw roots to survive. Finally, his family was offered a temporary home. There, JRS asked Delise to participate in the construction of a permanent site. In exchange, Delise received a modest stipend, which he used to pay for his education.
After receiving his diploma as a mechanic, Delise joined JRS to tend to the staff vehicles.His ever-present smile, in spite of and because of his arduous past, continues to reveal the essence of joy to the rest of the team. The presence of Delise nudges us ever further towards such conversion and surrender.
Steve Hege, Former staff member
JRS Grands Lacs
Adapted from God in Exile, 2005