Fiction in Sudan Is Riveting in "When the Lion Roars"

Randall Murphree

Title:  "When the Lion Roars"
Author:  DiAnn Mills
Publisher:  RiverOak

For more than two decades, southern Sudan has been ravaged by civil war. Two million people have been killed and four to five million more displaced from their homes. The people are in desperate need of food, medical provisions and the tools necessary to rebuild their lives. That's reality.

Sound like the setting for a tense drama? A little escapist reading? Some fun fiction? Yes. No. And No! It is the context for DiAnn Mills' riveting, emotional story in "When the Lion Roars" (RiverOak, 2005). However, it is not escapism or fun – or for the faint of heart. It will break your heart, and it will convict your spirit.

Meet the cast in this gripping, dramatic novel. Larson Kerr is an American physician who gave up on her Christian faith years ago and now practices medicine in Sudan. Paul Farid, an Arab-born Christian, is a wealthy philanthropist who flies in relief supplies and food to Sudan. Col. Ben Alier, a commander in the Sudanese People's Liberation Army, is convinced that war is the avenue to political freedom in Sudan.

Alier doesn't trust Farid, and both men are attracted to the American woman who lives in a Sudanese village to doctor the people's physical needs. Because of their varied backgrounds and even more diverse political and religious perspectives, a whole storm of tension swirls among the trio as circumstances put them in an uneasy alliance, striving for the same goals via very different methods and somewhat different motivations.

"Before I was called to write for Sudan, I wrote Christian romance," said author Mills in an exclusive interview. It's a pretty big leap from sentimental romance to Sudanese revolution. But Mills has made the transformation with a finesse that should allow this novel to have real impact.

"I woke up one morning with the idea for this story already in my mind," she said. "I had already done the research for "Lost Boy No More" so it was an easy story to write."

"Lost Boy No More" is her non-fiction title co-authored last year with Abraham Nhial, one of some 35,000 Lost Boys of Sudan, ages 9 to mid teens, who fled the country near the outset of Islamic persecution of Christians in 1987.

In "When the Lion Roars," the main characters identified above are joined by 12-year-old Nyok, who is assigned to work with and protect Dr. Kerr, but who longs to join the Sudanese People's Liberation Army to free his people from the oppressive government to the north.

Mills said Nyok is patterned after her friend James, one of the Lost Boys. James has earned a masters degree in political science and works in Nairobi, Kenya, to bring democracy to Sudan. He is working to get Mills' books into secondary schools in Sudan.

Mills hopes the novel will help bring attention to the on-going persecution of Christians in Sudan. Proceeds from both titles go to the Aid Sudan Foundation. (U.S. Senator Sam Brownback has endorsed the books and agreed to help place both in the hands of U.S. senators. It would be good to see them on the required reading list for the good senators.)

Novelist Davis Bunn, one of contemporary fiction's best storytellers, said "When the Lion Roars" is a "solid novel [which] examines the tragic civil war in southern Sudan, the world's longest running conflict, and portrays Christians as desperately seeking to offer hope, comfort and strength."

As Bunn indicates, the book combines three desirable elements:  solid story, critical issue, and Christian hope.

© 2005 AgapePress.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.