Greetings from Kampala, Uganda, a country still recovering from when the Lord’s Resistance Army lead by Joseph Kony ripped through the countryside abducting children to be pawns in a senseless war against humanity. Boys as young as four are taught to violently kill their peers while the girls are taken as wives and sex slaves.
It is in this environment that we are working with Dorcas Widow’s Fund, a ministry dedicated to living out the verse “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this to look after the orphans and widows in their distress.” (James 1:27) Many of the women have lost relatives to the ravages of the LRA, but nearly all of them have lost their husbands to a more pervasive threat, HIV/AIDS.
HIV has done more to destroy the families of these women than any other threat. Many have themselves been infected by unfaithful husbands who are now long in their grave, slowly dying from their husband’s unfaithfulness as the try to provide for their remaining children.
In Ugandan culture, everything belongs to the father or the husband. So after these men pass oftentimes the husband’s family will come and take all of the belongings of the wife, sometimes even taking the children. Leaving the wife to fend for herself with only the clothes on her back.
Woman after woman shared one heart-wrenching story after another, I found myself speechless. What do you say to a woman who lives in fear of her house collapsing on her children while she is out making less than a dollar to feed her family for the next couple of days? What do you say to a woman who is dying of HIV because of the infidelity of her husband? What do you say to a woman whose family was brutally abducted and murdered by Joseph Kony?
Somehow “I’m sorry” doesn’t seem to cut it, especially when everything in me wants to cure them of their disease and give them a new house with plenty of money for food.
But what I have to give is only words stuck in my throat like a sob. It seemed like anything I had to say would fall to the ground like a deflated balloon, meant for the heights but incapable of going anywhere.
I found myself desperately praying for God to give me some words that actually mean something.
It’s funny because as I prayed for those seemingly non-existent powerful words God told me that my words do mean something, more than I know. So maybe “I’m sorry”, while it doesn’t actually fix anything, does more to healing to the soul than I know. Maybe they have been waiting years just for one person to say that.
Perhaps my broken prayers are changing things, maybe they do administer healing and usher the Father closer to the both of us. And perhaps a hand squeeze says everything that my words fail to communicate.
I mean it must, because the widows keep telling us, through tears, this was the best weekend of their life. They say that their lives are forever changed and that it was wonderful just to get away.
How is that possible?
I feel inadequate for the massive amount of pain I see. I should be a licensed counselor or professional speaker or a pastor or maybe a lawyer so I can bring justice to all they have been through. But all I have is me, a girl who is trying to believe that she can make a difference in this broken world.
But what I am learning, very slowly, is the what God gives us is enough. That what I see as inadequate, is more than enough for God to work miracles with. And He is doing it, I am part of a miracle and you are witnessing it.
So praise to be a God who makes beautiful from brokenness.
Praise be to a God who creates Beauty From Ashes.