Our ability to become global good Samaritans may be intimately connected to our willingness to get to know the Deborah Acots of the world.

Standing in a hot and dusty schoolyard in the noontime sun of southern Sudan in January 2005, I met a steely-eyed girl named Deborah Acot. Like many of the kids in her school, she'd been drafted into southern Sudan's rebel army as a young child. But now, at age 15, she was done with the army. She was starting a new life in the wake of a just-signed peace deal that ended Africa's longest civil war. At her school, with its dirt-floor classrooms and few ratty textbooks, she hoped to learn enough math and science to become an airplane pilot.

As I was interviewing her for an article in The Christian Science Monitor, a powerful set of questions occurred to me: Could this shy girl be the modern-day equivalent of the man who was beaten up and robbed in Jesus' parable of "the good Samaritan" (see Luke 10:25-37)? Did she need a Samaritan's help? If so, was it possible that a reader of the Monitor would respond to the needs of this faraway girl? Might a reader reach around the world and become a Samaritan to her?

Certainly, the parallels between Deborah's life and the man in Jesus' story are strong. Like the man on the road to Jericho, Deborah once "fell among thieves." When she was seven, a government airplane attacked her village, dropping bombs and creating chaos. In the confusion, her family scattered. She hasn't seen them since. Soon she was spending her days ferrying supplies for the rebel army—and nights cooking for them.

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November 7, 2005

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