By Kari Miller
Has God not chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? James 1:5-6
Helen grew up in a family that loved her. Her parents taught her how to grow maize, groundnuts and Irish potatoes. They always had enough to eat and the food was good. She hoped one day to be a good cook like her mother. No one could make millet bread like she could. Sometimes at night, her uncles would take her into the woods to collect honey from the beehives.
She would hold the fire up high over her head close to the hive to chase the bees out. Then her uncle would collect the honey. She loved eating that sweet honeycomb. On holidays when her friends and family gathered in her home she would watch her older siblings dance the traditional Acholi dance.
She stood behind them and tried to copy their every move. Then her parents would light a fire and the children would listen as the adults told them stories of times long ago.
Life at home was full of love and promise. She remembers being so happy. She felt like the richest little girl in the world.
As all little girls do, she grew to be a vibrant fun loving woman. She fell in love with a good man and married him in a grand celebration that the whole village attended. They built their home, planted their crops and dreamed of a great future together. Helen was excited to become a mother and to raise her children to know the rich love she had felt as a child. Her first child came and the whole family came to ooh and aah over this new fat healthy baby. Then just two years later another beautiful baby joined their family. Everything was as it should be and they wanted for nothing.
Shortly after Helens second child was born, rumors began to spread around the village that a group of rebels were planning to overthrow the government. She hoped they were rumors. Life was good in her village and no one wanted to go back to the days of Idi Amin. Then one day some Ugandan officers showed up at her home to talk to her husband. She longed to know what they were discussing so intently under that tree. When they left, she approached her husband. He told her that the rebels were indeed beginning to attack villages in their area.
The rumors were true. He then told her not to worry–that he would protect her and their children. Suddenly, she knew what he would say next. He had joined the army and was leaving the next day to go and fight the rebels. She cried hysterically and begged him not to go–not to leave them, but he felt that the only way to really protect them was to join the army and fight.
She cried for days after he left. She lay awake each night wondering if he was alive or dead. Her neighbors told her that the rebels were getting closer and that they were ruthless and held no mercy for women and children. She was so terrified, but she had to stay strong for her children. They were so young. She tried to remain calm as she breast-fed her youngest. Even if her life was in chaos, she wanted her children to feel at peace.
One day, a relative came running up the path to her home shouting and crying. Helen ran to her fearing the worst. The woman told her that the rebels had slaughtered her sister and brother in law this morning. Helen dropped to her knees and wept. How could this be happening? Suddenly she remembered her sisters two small children. Shaking she looked at the woman and tentatively asked about the three year old and the infant. They are alive and with your father, she said.
She could feel herself drowning in sorrow, so she asked God to give her strength. She was a mother and she knew she couldnt fall apartnot with two young babies. So got up brushed herself off and fed her children lunch. After feeding them, she went to her fathers house to mourn with him.
Helen and her father held each other and cried. It was all too much to bear. Helen knew upon entering the house that her sisters child would only survive if she breast-fed him. So, she picked up her nephew and wept as she breast-fed her sisters child. She stayed with her father for a couple weeks and helped with all the funeral arrangements. It was a painful time.
After two weeks, Helen made the decision to return to her home. All the childrens things were there and there were neighbors who could help her care for her sisters children. So, with four children under the age of three, she returned to the house she had built with her husband. Life was hectic. She seemed to be breast-feeding all the time. Then the other two wanted to be held and cuddled. God was her only source of comfort. He somehow gave her enough strength to keep going. She would get so afraid sometimes. The gunshots and bombs seemed to be getting closer, but when she would pray God would give her peace. Even now, she cant explain how she felt that peace as the war raged around her.
One day, she heard her neighbors screaming, The rebels are here!
Continued next week…
Kari Miller is a 4th grade teacher who is passionate about loving Jesus and loving others. She longs to inspire others to love the least, the lost and the left out.
In previous articles, we have informed you that Kari was trying to raise $15,000 dollars to purchase land for 100 widows and their children. Thanks to you and other donors, she has now raised $16,000 and has begun negotiations. Please pray for Kari as she has recently left the widows and returned home.