Saturday, June 19, 2010


When I was reading the "Compassion" posts a couple days ago -- running a bit late, as usual -- I saw something that set my heart pounding. It was connected to forgiveness...
I decided I needed to share...
When in Soroti, Uganda, in December, '03, I was at the Rescued Children's Camp, kids who had escaped or been rescued after being abducted by the LRA [Lord's Resi
stance Army] led by Joseph Kony. My task was to interview some of the kids and forward their stories to pastors I was involved with, in Uganda, UK, and U.S. Even though I did this several times, the first day, after interviewing only four kids, two boys and two girls, ages 10 to 15, I left the camp with what became the first step towards trauma.

The boys, 10 and 12, broke my heart telling very frankly what they had gone through
-- their beatings, being forced to steal, being abandoned to die. A few months earlier, when I first knew the Lord was sending me to Uganda to help out in this refugee situation, He reminded me of a motto of World Vision back in the '60s, the title and sub-title of a book I've had for many years, read many times ... "Let My Heart Be Broken... by the things that break the heart of God." Well, I can tell you very honestly that my heart was one shattered mess when I finally arrived home in February, '04, and the PTS took months to overcome. Their stories were major parts of it. And an eye-and-heart-opening one was Christine's.

Christine, 15, was abducted June 20th. The rebels abducted 4 chi
ldren from her family at different times. She was the first. Sitting at home, they called her to come and help carry food -- they never let her return home. Her three brothers – ages 9, 13, and 19 were abducted later; the 13 and 19 year olds had escaped, but the 9 year old was still in the "bush". Her parents had moved from their home to an IDP camp for safety purposes.

Sometimes rebel groups had as few as 7 rebels and 10 children. Her group, however, had more than 150 rebels and 100 children. These differences were determined by how the many villages and how much food were accessible in various locations.

She said she carried so much – firewood, food, all the camp stuff. She was given as "wife" to a 27-year old man, who had 2
other wives, one of whom was pregnant. The three of them mistreated her by beating her and not giving her food. [She never mentioned the fact that as a "wife" she was a "sex slave" ... this was an "understood."]

There was a gun battle between the rebels and the UPDF [the Ugandan Army]; everyone scattered out of the crossfire -- she escaped.

An abductee for only about 6 weeks, she had been in this rescued c
hildren's camp since August 5th. She couldn't go to the IDP camp and be with her parents, because one of the actions of the rebels was to re-capture those who had escaped, if possible, and then kill them in front of others as an object lesson. Staying in this safe and protected children's camp was what she had to do.

As we ended our conversation, using a translator for her Teso language, I suddenly asked something I would never have thought of. "If you could meet with these rebels what would you do?" Her answer overwhelmed me.

"I would forgi
ve them, because they don't know what they are doing."

Later that day, when I was back in the YWAM compound with my co-worker, Jill, I was furious, saddened beyond belief, and emotionally extreme. I was crying and screaming at times as I recalled holding their hands and praying for them, touching them and asking blessings on them... and knowing what these kids had gone through,
seeing their scars, their
w, their fear, their anger... and feeling how tepid or lukewarm or useless were those touchings/ blessings UNLESS the Holy Spirit would use it to bring some aspect of healing, which I won't know until Heaven.

I was especially touched by, and have always been touched by, Christine's response. When I think of her I wonder how she is. She obviously had not become pregnant by her "husband", but did she become an HIV victim? If so, has anyone stepped up for her need? Was she able to finish school? Even though I saw her for only 15 minutes, I love this girl and use her so often as an example of what we need to remember, because very often it is the absolute, certain truth, even of the so-called wise ones or intelligentsia that surrounds us:

"I would forgive them, because they don't know what they are doing."

Her story is part of a book I have been working on for some time based on my "Soroti" experiences.


Michelle DeRusha said...

Wow. Christine's ability to forgive is truly astounding.

I can see where you would have a lot of material to comprise a book.

Beth said...

So this is some of the material you were writing to me about---powerful stuff! Keep writing friend--story needs to be told.

S. Etole said...

When I enlarged the photo that pictures the children sitting on the floor their faces spoke of things most of us will never know ...

caryjo said...

Received this response from my friend/co-worker mentioned on the post. She is still living/working at an orphanage in Uganda. Thought it would be interesting to share.

Wow that brought back memories and feelings I thought I had forgotten or hoped I had..

We now have a centre that way though not in Soroti and not many escaped kids-- not sure where they all are.

Gulu has now closed down as far as rescuing kids and most of the IDP's have gone home though not all as lots have got used to the camps or that's all they remember.

The church is growing, the pastors that were in and born of the camps have now moved out into the different areas and there are five or six churches started up all working with the Deliverance church. The Deliverance Churches in Kampala have helped in buying motorbikes for the pastors so they can move about more easier as they cover wide areas.
I was there in April and sat in and was part of a meeting, it was exciting to see what was happening.

Duane Scott said...

Looking forward to the book! I have often thought of getting involved with Compassion... and there really is so much we should be doing.

Jeanne Frances Klaver said...

This is powerfully moving. I thank you for bringing it to our attention!

Sandra Heska King said...

Oh. So. Powerful. You have amazing stories. Praying for Christine now.

Nithin RS said...

Thanks for sharing this experience.Rebels across the world says that they are working for the poor people.They terrorise the poor people,rapes their women,abducts their kids.Child guerillas especially girls face all kind of abuses.Amazed at the response of cristine,well she is right,those who abuse them,dont know what they are doing.As they dont have time to think,they are just wasting time in fighting and rest of the time abusing the helpless.May god bless all.