Thursday, October 1, 2009
Father to the Fatherless
My last post included a video from Kapelabyong where we visited on our last Sunday in Uganda. This village holds a special place in my heart as we are trying to find sponsors for the children there. We knew that we would be going there for church on Sunday and Sarah and I were asked to teach the children Sunday School. We were told there may be about 100 children. FUN!! Well, as it turned out there were closer to 300 children. Hello!!
So, we split the kids up into two groups by age. I took the older kids and Sarah took the younger kids. As I was walking up to the group of children I was going to speak to I realized that I hadn't really prepared anything for this age group. Gulp. I asked my translator how long I needed to speak for. He smiled and said "Oh...maybe one hour or one hour and forty minutes". Oh, is that all??
So I had my "O God, O God, O God" moment right there on the spot. As I looked out at the sea of faces sitting quietly and expectantly in front of me I did what anyone would do who's trying to stall for time...I asked them if they had any questions for me. :) And they did...they wanted to know what I ate and if there were any black people where I lived. It was cool to be able to tell them that yes - there were people who looked just like them where I lived. And then they wanted to know why I was there. Um...loaded question. Why was I there?? My answer to them was that I had come to meet them and get to know them and remind them how much God loved them. Clearly there is so much more as to why I was there but I felt like I should just leave it at that.
I asked them to raise their hands if they were an orphan. And oh my. About 80% of the kids raised their hands. Immediately I just wanted to weep. What in the world could I say to all these orphans that could even touch their pain? So I prayed, opened my mouth and just started talking. God just showed up and gave me the words to say. I would a finish a sentence and have no idea what was coming next but suddenly there it was. And it went on like that for about a half hour. I don't remember all of what I said but I do remember being compelled to communicate to them that they were a treasure to God...that although they may be alone God will never leave them...that God has plans for them - to give them a hope and a future...that they should not put their hope in people, but in God...that they need to be compassionate toward each other and help each other.
There were several times where I just started crying as I was speaking. As I was talking about how much they are treasured and loved I just really FELT the truth of that deeply...I glimpsed the Father's heart for them and it was just beautiful and it moved me. And oh did the kids just soak up that truth! They listened so intently...their eyes held my gaze...they smiled huge bright smiles when I asked them if they understood what I was saying to them wasn't just words - but that it was God's truth for them.
I was initially disappointed not to be able to be part of the church experience that was going on inside the hut (how selfish can I be??) but as I stood outside under the sun with these kids I realized there was no other place I would rather be. After I spoke I tore off a piece of notebook paper for each child and handed out a crayon or marker to each one. And oh my gosh...how these kids lit up when they saw a crayon and marker! Understand that most of these kids don't even have a pencil, much less a colorful crayon or marker.
I asked the children to write their names at the top of the paper and to draw a picture or write a note...whatever they felt like doing. I explained that I would collect the papers and take them home to give to my friends. I told them that they would be hung up in our homes (couldn't exactly explain hanging them up with a magnet on our refrigerators!)and that they would be prayed for by name every day - that they would NOT be forgotten, just as God had not forgotten them. They really engaged with the project. I thought they'd enjoy it, but I had no idea how hard their papers would make me cry as I read through them later on the bus. I believe I'll let them speak for themselves.
There were over one hundred papers all asking for help with their school fees. Then some went on to say that they needed help getting proper sanitation, food, mattresses, sheets, but over and over again school fees were at the top of the list. They recognize that without an education their future is bleak. But most of them are orphans with no one to care for them or provide them with school fees (which range from $65-$300 a year depending on if they are boarding at school). I just kept thinking...how different the lists of our children here in the States would look from these. These kids just need their basic needs met. The most frivolous thing that was mentioned in over a hundred letters was a ball. A ball. Because right now they wrap a wad of garbage with twine and use that for their ball. Can't you see the list from our kids now? A Wii, iPod, cell phone, laptop...oh the difference.
And then there was sweet James' note. "I love Jesus Christ because He died for me on the cross. I am an orphan but the Bible says that God is a father to the fatherless and a mother to the motherless. I trust in Jesus Christ for my needs." Even the difference between his letter and the others was profound. He wasn't asking me for anything. He wasn't listing his needs. He really IS trusting Jesus to meet his needs. I am still humbled by James Ocen every time I look at his paper. And I'm compelled to pray that God will meet this sweet boy and strengthen his faith and meet his needs just as James is trusting Him to do.
If this group of children stirs your heart, just let me know as there are many ways for you to directly impact their little lives and hearts.
Posted by Amy at 8:24 AM