Sunday, March 28, 2010
While reading Luke 8 recently something kicked in. The thoughts took me back to Uganda.
When in Soroti, God dropped a young girl into the lives of me and my co-"minister" Jill. An aid worker for a Ugandan organization wanted to help in the girl's situation, but couldn't, and she laid it in our lap. When we followed through, our lives changed. She was at the local hospital caring for her brother ... she was guesstimated at 12, and he was 14. He died the next day. Her parents had died and other family members couldn't help. After his death, the local authorities gave us permission to take her back to the orphanage with us, and we left for Christmas break the following week. The assumption, on all of our parts, was that she would be added to a family group home. That changed before we reached the orphanage. My Ugandan son and daughter-in-law, Sam and Adhe, picked the three of us up in Kampala, a couple hours from New Hope. Before we reached there, Adhe had "adopted" the girl ... and for six years, she has lived in this family. Her whole life changed: From -- little or no education, no daily care, ragged or nearly non-existent clothing, little food, no medical care, and working incessantly to the bone because of the others' expectations and her servant-heart attitude. To -- a good education, good food and nice clothes, medical care, and a totally sold-out mother and father, and young sister, an "Aunt" Jill, and piles and piles of friends. And, yes, she still does chores, but not in the harshness of her former life.
Before we reached New Hope that evening, Adhe had changed her name from something informal and "nick-namey" to Rebekah. When we discovered this the next day, Jill wanted her also to be called "Sanyu" because it means "joy" and we saw it flowing from Rebekah constantly, even when she was in the hospital caring for her brother. I presented that idea to Adhe, and she immediately applied it and "our" girl is Rebekah Sanyu.
The reason I'm telling this is because when I returned home several weeks later, I was very sick... Post traumatic stress from what I'd seen and heard in that refugee area; many physical problems connected to exhaustion, malnutrition, sleep deprivation and malaria; emotional residue from the separation from my husband, having spent 2-1/2 months without him, except for the occasional phone call [he came the last two weeks, which caused great rejoicing among many, and my heart could relax again]; AND the overall cost for that 3 months came to approximately $6,000, not exactly a "cheap date."
A few months later Sam and I were talking on the phone. I was feeling better, doing OK. And I said to him, "Sometimes I think the main reason the Lord called me to Soroti was to get Rebekah and give her to you." My son, knowing all that we had gone through, and not taking any of it lightly, said he agreed and ended with, "... and it was worth it."
NOW -- Luke. This is the part that shares the boat trip across the Sea of Galilee. The storm tried to wipe them out, the disciples panicked, and Jesus commanded it to quit. They reached the Gerasene area and were confronted by the demonized man, etc., etc. [The story is well-known, of course.] At the end, the local villagers tell Jesus to leave. As the Message Bible puts it: Too much change, too fast, and they were scared.
When I was reading it a few days ago, for the very first time ever my mind popped in a thought... the demonized man was the only/main reason Jesus made the trip across the Sea of Galilee... the attempt of the "Storm" to kill Him and his disciples, the fight with the demons [which may well have shaken the disciples up, and most certainly scared the townsfolk and herdsman to the nearly insane level], and the physical tiredness that could well have hit the "man" side of Jesus afterward --- it was ALL for the sake of this ONE MAN. To free him and give him a future and a hope. And open the eyes of those around him, who had feared and avoided him, to truly "see" ahead.
...Just as going to Soroti, "finding" Rebekah, and in spite of all the challenges, the "revelation" that SHE was the reason for the trip, and she was worth it!
Here's a photo of our dear granddaughter, Rebekah Sanyu, and our son, her dad, Sam, a couple days after she reached the orphanage ... in her real and bright "kid" clothes [nothing compared to the large "old woman" dress she was wearing when Jill and I met her a week earlier].