220 pages Illustrated: Color Photos
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The Amazon Kindle version is free March 1st - 5th here:
"Stories of resilience, determination and the choice for freedom - at all costs." ~ Joan Hecht, author of The Journey of the Lost Boys
"These stories will challenge the church to be salt and light." ~ Corey Odden, Voice of the Martyrs
"These stories will gladden - and tear - your heart." ~ Stuart Briscoe, author and broadcaster
Here are the very real stories of how and why five men and women escaped the genocide in south Sudan and Darfur, made their way through Egypt and smuggled into Israel, the one country their Islamic government prohibited them entering. In desperation they fled across the border anyway, with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
In their hearts and minds they carried the prophecy of Isaiah: "At that time gifts will be brought to the Lord Almighty [to Mount Zion] from a people tall and smooth-skinned" (Isaiah 18:7). These people believe they are a fulfillment of that prophecy.
When hundreds of the tall, dark Africans began appearing in the popular beach town of Eilat, at the southernmost tip of Israel, curiosities were piqued. Where did they come from? Why would Christians, from a war-torn Islamic-governed country risk everything to come to Israel, of all places? When a group of refugees entered The Shelter Hostel run by John and Judy Pex, these courageous peoples' stories, both tragic and miraculous, began to unfold.
Gabriel, Muna Maria, Yien, Rose, all persecuted Christians from south Sudan, and Muna from Darfur tell their heart-wrenching but inspiring stories. They are stories that the world - and the church - need to hear.
About the Author:
Judith Galblum Pex was born in Washington, D.C., but has lived with her husband, John, in Eilat, Israel, since 1976. Twenty-six years ago John and Judith began The Shelter Hostel, a guest house for travelers from all over the world and a drop-in center for anyone searching for physical, emotional, or spiritual support. John, from Holland, is the pastor of the Eilat Congregation, a multi-cultural, non-denominational fellowship.
Judith and John are the parents of four grown children, two of whom are married. All the children live in Israel. In her free time Judith likes to read, hike and camp in the mountains around Eilat, and to snorkel in the Red Sea.
Interview with Judith
1. What did you hope to achieve by writing a book about the Sudanese who escaped into Israel?
I wanted to raise awareness of the situation of the South Sudanese in Israel. I wanted people to understand the suffering they've been through and to see them as individuals; not as "just refugees."
2. Can you give us any updates to the situation of the Sudanese in Israel? Are any of the five people from A People Tall and Smooth living in Sudan again?
The situation of the Sudanese in Israel is very precarious now. The Israeli government is only hardening their stand against them. The news from just a couple of weeks ago is that there is an expulsion order against them that they all have to go back to South Sudan by April 1st.
As far as the five people whose stories are in the book: Gabriel is studying international relations at a leading college in Israel and his fellow students have written a petition asking that he and the other two Sudanese students be allowed to stay and finish their studies. Muna's son, Tom, is doing national service here as he had planned. Yien is married to Jasmin from Switzerland and they have a son, Joshua, and are living in Addis Ababa where he is going to Bible school. Rose and Muna Maria are have moved to other locations.
3. What impact have these stories had on you and people you know?
It was a privilege for me to get to know the five Sudanese people whom I interviewed in a much deeper, personal way. If not for the book, I never would have spent so much time with them. The book also challenged me to reflect on and understand my - and my family's - relationship with the Sudanese refugees. I've been encouraged by people's reactions to the book. I think feedback is always important for a writer. An Israeli friend of mine from Eilat told me that after reading the book, she doesn't look at the Africans she sees on the street in the same way as she did before she read it. She knows that each one has a story behind them. Similarly, some of my parents' Jewish friends were really touched by the stories.
I'm glad the book was useful for some of the refugees whose stories were told. When Gabriel was applying for University here in Israel, I wrote a condensed version of his testimony so that people would know who he is and where he came from.
4. When you were a child, what were your favorite books?
When I was little I liked all the books by Dr. Suess, beginning with The Cat in the Hat. When I was a bit older, I liked The Misty of Chincoteague series, the Nancy Drew series,Charlotte's Web, and The Yearling. We went to the library every week and exchanged books. I remember Anne of Green Gables, Oliver Twist, and books by Jules Verne. I was always reading. We were a reading family. My sister has written about a half dozen nonfiction books; and I've appreciated her advice on my journey as a writer.
5. What accomplishment are you most proud of in your life?
My family is definitely at the top of my list. My wonderful marriage of 37 years to John, our four amazing children, together with our son- and daughter-in-law; and the six grandchildren we have, including our two Sudanese foster boys. After my family, I'm thankful for the Shelter Hostel being open for 27 years, and what it's means to the thousands of people who pass through each year. I'm thankful for the Eilat congregation which John and I began about 30 years ago. And I'm also proud that I was able to write two books - so far!
6. Where can we find you on the Web?
At my website: http://www.judithpex.com you can learn more about me and my books, and see pictures of the Sudanese people in Eilat. You may find updates on my Facebook page: "Judith Pex - author".
7. Do you have a Middle Eastern recipe to share with us?
In A People Tall and Smooth I mention the dish called Ful. It's known to be Egyptian but Middle Eastern food crosses borders!
Ful Medames - Egyptian Fava Beans
1 1/2 lbs of dried fava beans or broad beans
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Soak beans in water overnight. Drain, then cover with fresh water in large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until beans are tender. Drain; place in medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Mash together. Serve hot with a fried egg and pita bread.
Judy Pex in Sudanese dress