Christmas Wishes

What do you want for Christmas? Ask an American child that question, and the answer will likely be "a Play Station, Nintendo games, a CD player," or something similar. But 10,000 miles away, Christian kids have a simpler wish list: They just want their mothers back home. And if a California writer has her way, some of them might one day get their Christmas wish. Sonia Levitin is an award-winning author of young adult books. But the one she's just finished, titled Dream Freedom, has special meaning for her. It's fiction, but it's based on the true story of Colorado teacher Barbara Vogel and her fourth-grade class in their relentless fight against slavery in Sudan. Dream Freedom opens in a U.S. classroom. There, twelve-year-old Marcus and his friends learn that slavery is not a thing of the past. Thousands of Christians in southern Sudan are living in bondage, captured by the Muslims of northern Sudan. Marcus and his classmates are shocked. And just like the real-life Mrs. Vogel, the fictional teacher helps her kids find ways to raise money to redeem the slaves and publicize their plight. The book also brings readers into the lives of several Sudanese families -- and this is where the book hammers at our hearts. We read of a teenage boy who begins to weep when he discovers that his sister has been carried off by soldiers. An elderly woman takes in Amou, a little girl whose mother was captured. In northern Sudan, a mother named Dabora lies awake at night, longing for her child. We also read of a Muslim boy named Aziz, who idolizes his father -- until he sees him viciously beating a slave. With Dream Freedom, Levitin is attacking real-life atrocities with her own weapons: her gift for writing and her passion for justice. She's waging war in what Russell Kirk called "the land of the human imagination." Kirk meant that in the absence of an appeal to the imagination, minds are rarely changed on public policy matters -- no matter how persuasive our arguments may be. But if we can stimulate the moral imagination, we can awaken nobility, compassion, and virtue. The moral imagination respects the moral law authored by God, who calls people to duties beyond themselves. Sonia Levitin understands this. It's one thing to learn cold, dry facts about slavery in Sudan, she says. It's another thing to pick up a novel and smell the smoke rising from a hut set on fire; to see the scars from a brand burned into the face of a child; to feel the loving arms of a mother who, for the first time in years, has managed to escape from her slave master. "If I can reach young people and let them know what other young people are doing to fight slavery, they can carry on the fight," Levitin told BreakPoint. Dream Freedom, which is available in your local bookstore, would make a wonderful gift for the adolescent on your Christmas list. If you purchase the book, 10 percent of the proceeds will be donated to anti-slavery groups . . . groups that will keep fighting on behalf of Sudanese captives until freedom is not just a dream, but a reality. For further reading: Levitin, Sonia. Dream Freedom. San Diego: Silver Whistle, 2000.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary