Would you like to know what great love looks like? Great love that inspires a man to lay down his life for his friends?
This incredible story of courage was told to me by my colleague, Paul Otto, a Ugandan water engineer in South Sudan …
Paul grew up in a World Vision-supported refugee camp in Gulu, northern Uganda. His nephew was sponsored by World Vision as a child.
He told me the story of Rich Moseanko, an American relief worker with World Vision since 1990.
These are Paul’s words:
I met Rich Moseanko in Malakal in January, 2014. He was posted to come and lead World Vision’s emergency response.
More than 30,000 people had fled violence in South Sudan. Many were in a United Nations camp. Others were hiding in hospitals, churches, and schools.
Rich heard there were many people who were dying of starvation. Women were being raped by the rebels. Rich said, “We need to help these people.”
Rich had to take his own initiative. He went to the UN. He said to them, “I am going to rescue these people. They are dying. They are being killed.”
It was a difficult operation. He had to move through the rebel checkpoints. When he reached the hospital, he found many people were dying. He met one lady having her last breath.
The people gathered around the woman said she had died. But Rich disagreed.
He asked for water. He gave the lady water. She opened one eye, and he said, “This woman is still alive.”
That’s when things got very dangerous. The World Vision team was surrounded by armed gunmen.
They said World Vision cannot do this rescue. They wanted to shoot the World Vision staff.
But Rich Moseanko had put on the armor of God.
Rich said very boldly. “I’ve called the UN. They are on their way. If you want to kill us here, we will all die here. We want to rescue these people.”
Then Rich began his work. He moved men and women. There were many places that he went over the next days—churches and schools. The hospital. I don’t know the number exactly, but he rescued many, many people, more than 100.
That time was terrible. More than 500 people died. I saw the bodies along the road. I saw dogs running with human hands.
Through it all, Rich and our team kept moving.
We used the World Vision cars flying our flag. We had two cars. Rich could get eight people in the Land Cruiser. The pick-up carried more. The truck could carry 30 to 40. He may have rescued hundreds of people.
One of the days we were to take food to one of the internally displaced people sites, a three-hour drive away from Malakal. It was risky. Rich told the staff, ‘Tomorrow we need to do an assessment and take food to those IDPs (internally displaced people). We don’t know how the road is. We don’t know what will happen, but we will do this.” Rich made it to the place where the UN couldn’t go. We were the first people to get there.
We went later to check on the lady who Rich saved. She said that she didn’t remember anything about the rescue, but did remember this: When she opened her eye after Rich gave her the water—the only thing she saw was the World Vision cross.
Rich Moseanko is presently serving in Nepal, bringing relief to 20,000 families in the mountains following the April earthquake that caused widespread damage.
See Rich at work, describing how his team assembled hygiene kits from local supplies during the Nepal relief in this video:
Join World Vision staff like Rich and Paul in serving as the hands and feet of Christ to the world. Make a one-time donation to help bring relief to those displaced by conflict in South Sudan.