“There’s so much more to life than we’ve been told
It’s full of beauty that will unfold”
“Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall
I’m free to love once and for all
And even when I fall I’ll get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levee and my bluff
Let the flood wash me”
~From Josh Garrels, “Farther Along”
“Those who are yoked with their Creator are granted the gifts, insight, and capacity to live not only fearlessly, but creatively, blessing the world with the colors of hope” ~Richard Dahlstrom
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call and the LORD will answer; you shall call and He will say, “Here I am.”
If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
These lyrics, quotes, and verses speak to me of the Kingdom of God- the unleashing of beauty that we see as God, through his people the church, sets people free from sin, addictions, and darkness of all forms, and brings life-eternal, joy, freedom and light into our lives. Jesus was always talking about the Kingdom of God, and it is the greatest delight to see this kingdom unfolding in life around me-at home and here in Jinja.
I see this Kingdom day to day as the ten boys here laugh and smile and play football with each other-boys who know more darkness in their past than I can comprehend (abandonment, death of loved ones by AIDS, being beaten by police as they slept outside, having to steal to eat, and having older men sexually abuse them). These are God’s beloved sons, and they are healing day by day. We have to fight against shadows and walls they have built in their past- lies that they agree with because of how people have treated them. But it is worth this fight- a victory and a beautiful moment each time they have that deep-down joyful belly laugh, or dance and sing and bang on the drums to show Jesus they love Him. It is messy and painfully hard sometimes, but I trust and know that each of these boys are in His hands as they heal and grow.
A few days ago I got to visit Ekisa (“Grace” in Luganda), a home for children with disabilities. There are severe stigmas against disabilities here- children are often thought to have demons, and brought to village witch doctors for exorcisms or worse. Painted on the wall of the Ekisa home is Psalm 139:14, which is true for each of the precious boys and girls who live here-they are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.” One of my favorite experiences here was having lunch with a little girl in a wheelchair- I was asked to spoon feed her, and we slowly got through her lunch bite by bite. And God was reminding me that this girl is deeply loved by Him- she cannot hold a spoon by herself, walk, or say a single world- but unlike my culture tells me, our value is not in what we do but who our Creator is, and He says that this girl and everyone else in humanity is made in His image, and “wonderfully made.”
It was quite humbling to be reminded of my worth in God, a worth not based in doing, through getting terribly sick for the next three days (and still recovering). My roommate and I had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with the staff at Ekisa Ministries, and I could barely talk or think cohesively due to being sick and congested. I had to spend a few days in bed afterwards, missing time with the boys, and passing off my Bible study and art project for the week. Yet in the midst of this, God gave me 1 Thessalonians 5:16: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks is all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It was a hard verse to accept at first- being sick in a foreign country, in the 80 degree weather on the equator, and away from the comforts of home (such as a quiet place to rest, away from the noise that a house of 10 boys brings). I wanted to have a pity party, but it was Thanksgiving and I knew that God is a master at helping me change my feelings. So, being sick turned into time to learn about being God’s beloved, and time to thank Him for this trip, these boys, the worship and laughter that flooded into my room, their sweet get-well card to “Auntie Lizzie” (Lindsey is a hard name to say here), the tub of soup that our missionary friends left with us for such as time as this, and a powerful movie about social justice and God’s love for Africa, “Amazing Grace.”
Other highlights... I am thankfully getting better, and got to visit the Source of the Nile the other day. Rachel and I took a boat with our friend Lindsey and her foster kids to the area where Lake Victoria becomes the Nile. And last week I sat in the most authentic, middle-of-the-market salon for 4 hours to get my hair braided like all the women here. Today was our little friend Calvin’s 2nd birthday, and Rachel and I visited the local miracle conference and got to dance and sing to Jesus in Swahili in a beautiful field full of Ugandan men and women and children.
May God use you to bring His Kingdom of love, peace, joy, hope, freedom, and life wherever you are today!
|The Lindseys, Rachel, and precious foster kids|
|The pillar which marks the official start of the Nile|
|The island at the Source of the Nile|
|School boys and an island crab|
|Our boat, "God is Good"|
|Rachel and I at the Source, with Lake Victoria behind|
|Calvin turns 2!|
|A master braider Edith, doing 2-strand rope braids|
|The one meal I shy away from here- fish!|
|Isaac's drawing of me getting married to Jesus ( :|