MINNEAPOLIS - A Minnesota family has been reunited with a father and husband after 15 years of separation.
Pastor Cheing Chut, a First Adventist minister, arrived at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and was greeted with tears and hugs from his wife Nyatot Bel Diaw, all six of his children and six grandchildren he had never before met.
Chut was pastor to a congregation in southern Sudan in the 1990s when that region of the country became unsafe, especially for Christians. He sent his family ahead to America, but stayed behind to assure the safety of his congregation.
His plans to join his family unraveled after the 911 attacks when the U.S. government added Sudan to a list of terrorist nations. That designation made passage to America much tougher for Sudanese citizens - and Chut, who had taken refuge in Ethiopia - was trapped.
Persistence by family members and help from Senator Al Franken's office finally cleared the roadblocks.
"I don't think he'll recognize me," predicted Duol Chut, the youngest son, who was just 4 years old the last time he saw his father.
Indeed, upon the pastor's arrival, father and son gave each other a second look before locking in an embrace. Other family members followed, with one tearful hug after another.
"We never thought this day would come," said daughter Nyahon Chut. "Praise God."
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