Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vally of the dry bones

God has been pulling at the heart string of Mine and Kimberley's heart for almost 5 years to help the people of Northern Uganda. These people have been the victim's of a 21 year civil war and have been refugees in their own country. Aids, hepatitis, cholera, T.B. and alcoholism are at epidemic proportions, and there seems to be no hope in sight. Since returning from my 1st trip to Africa under the new mantle of Helping Hands International Ministries I am even more burdened for the people there.
I visited 3 I.D.P. (Internally displaced people) camps. The people their are mostly land owners who can't go and plant, live, or even stay there. They have to remain in the camps to be (supposedly) protected by the U.P.D.F. ( Uganda peoples defense force). So they have no timeline to return, and mostly no hope to dream about. I asked many questions while visiting the camps and one of the hardest was, "where do see yourself in 5 years?". Most didn't even know how to respond. The biggest reasons for the lack of response was that they don't know what hope looks like, they haven't seen good times to understand what they could be, or the parents didn't prepare the children to be heads of their respective homes, which is understandable. I spoke to one young man who was 18 and had a 11 and a 14 year old sibling who were now under his care. His father had shared with him before his death in 2004 from a camp raid that someday they would return to their home and plant food, work the ground, fix up the hut and life would be good again. But this boy was born in the refugee camp and although he has seen his land, he has never lived there and has no idea how to work the land as his forefathers had always done.....
The next camp I went to they introduced me to "child moms"...girls 13 to 18 or so that were moms. It didn't happen because they loved the husband and wanted to procreate. It happened mostly because the parents were dead and girls needed to sleep somewhere, so a man, usually twice their age helps them. And instead of fathering the little girls they make them their sex objects. Many times they are contracting aids, and many other diseases that are rampant their. So comes the baby. Most of the girls aren't showing me their baby's proud of the wonder that God has brought into the world, but ashamed of the mistake that they have began feeding and giving a place to sleep. I met one such girl. She was 16 ( see picture above) and would hardly make eye contact with me. She was very quiet and full of shame and guilt. I asked her if she knew Jesus and she didn't know. I asked many questions about schooling, the father, her parents and so on. I finally asked her what the 3 week old babies name was and she replied, "Po-Ka" and the translator told me that it meant problems......................................I sat in silence for a moment contemplating the life of this child at every turn being called problems. I began to weep at the thought of this pure, sweet babe having that curse spoke over her all of her life. I asked the girl why she would name her baby Problems?. She replied, "my mom died from HIV in 2004 just before the attack from the L.R.A. ( Lords resistance Army) that took the life of her father and 56 other members of this camp. She had no place to stay so a man that she doesn't love and didn't know became her room mate. They aren't married they only cohabitate. She began to cry. I asked her if she knew God loved and cared for her very much...she said she didn't know that. I asked if she knew that God has never brought a precious life into the world by mistake and that all life is a pure, miraculous gift from God. She said she didn't know that. I told her that God has counted every hair on her head and caught in his hand every tear she has every cried because you are that important to God. She again said she had no idea.........A woman in a near by hut yelled out for me to give the baby a Christian name. I shrugged my shoulders and said its not my baby or my choice. The girl looked up and asked if I would give the baby a new name.....again the tears began to flow for me and the girl mom. I said I would be honored and named the baby "Faith" and prayed over the baby and mom that they would have faith in Jesus to pull them from their troubles and that the baby would not ever be a problem but a beacon of Faith and all that's good....
My friend Pastor John Baguma traveled with me on this leg of the journey where Ugandans even fear going. His life is changed forever. He saw many things that took him out of his comfort zone. His life is very hard, but he has hope. He saw people who's lives are way harder than his own and without the hope that we have in Christ.
I talked to him today, now that I've been home for almost a week. He was just ending a Wednesday night service. Many people came to ask for jobs in this new ministry "HHIM" that they are hearing about. He explained to them that I am not called to go to Africa to prosper myself or anyone there. God called me to the valley of the dry bones (Ezekiel 37) to speak into the hopelessness and bring people the hope that only Christ can bring. That there is no jobs, or monetary profit that will come from this work. But that its to lift up the Kingdom of God and bring hope to the hopeless.
This guy (Pastor John) is amazing. This is him below in the video praying for the child moms. I've told many of you that he has a 6th grade education. I said that because I was told that. The truth is he completed p1. That's an equivalent of our 1st grade. God has given him the rest of his education. And its been a good one so far. He will begin taking English classes next week when I send him the money to do so. Pray with me that we can live up to the picture he's painting of us. Pray that God will give us the wisdom, strength, insight, and provision to do the big work ahead of us.........D&K McCleskey