Reflections on our life and lessons in uganda
Hey everyone. This is kind of a combined post. Wednesday night pastor Matt apparently taught on bullies or something along those lines (I was in the nursery). Jon told me after that it was really moving for him, not just because of the message but because of what God showed him through it. It really struck a cord with me; because it resonated with a message God hit me hard with in recent years. With Jon’s permission, I’m going to include his notes below, please note there are some pretty horrific things going on in Uganda’s neck of the woods and they are briefly described below: (I just don’t want to send anyone in unprepared)
The LRA are bullies. The favored tactic of the LRA since the 80's has been to abduct children from their homes; kids between the ages of 4 and 12 primarily. The drag then into the forest and turn them into soldiers by means of violent indoctrination. Killing other kids who have been abducted, and torturing them by means of slicing and removing body parts usually genitalia. After indoctrinating the kids, they usually bring them back to their families and force them to kill their parents and other siblings that weren't taken, this not only finishes the process of turning them from children into dark soldiers, but ensures they have no place to run away to. They are bullies because they take people who are helpless against them and force them to do according to the evil that is in the hearts of the soldiers. They are bullies because they can't find someone their own size to pick on.
I WILL ARISE.
I want to be there for the kids when they have no place else to run to; when they don't even know how to be kids anymore; when all they know is how to kill, because everything they ever loved was destroyed by their own forced hand. I believe that God has called me away from the American Church norm of having 2 and half kids and a white picket fence in order to keep my eyes open to God's children who have no earthly parents, God's children who don't remember what it's like to be loved. I will stand in the way of bullies, they are my enemy. Anyone who desires to hurt a precious child of God will be my enemy.
God please use me...show me what it looks like to take a stand.”
I think in the American church, we often feel that to stand against something is un-Christlike or wrong. Or at least to stand against it in any real way. We love to be point-click-activists (i.e. facebook activists). We’ll click like on a cause and then forget about it. We actually saw this multiple times in relation to Uganda. When Invisible Children first came out there was a huge push to “raise awareness” and it was all over facebook. Then that push died. Then the stop Kony movement came about with a flashy new hashtag and that was all the rage, for a bit. I think a great tactic from the enemy has been to make us feel like we’re doing something when we ‘like’ something on facebook or share a link. I think another brilliant strategy has been making seriously evil ‘causes’ into fads. For a while, we get riled up and want to push to change things. But then something else hits the headlines or becomes the popular issue and we lose sight of the atrocities we were rallying around just hours before.
It’s easy to stand behind something from behind the computer screen or to say you’re in support of people working to change it. We love to do that as Americans. If you knew college-Kristin, you’d know I was the biggest facebook activist of them all. I’d tape my mouth for life-day, and walk around barefoot for the Toms shoes day, and I’d post links like crazy, calling out all the not-as-up-to-date-shallow-average-people. (I’ll admit it, college-Kristin was kind of the worst). But then God pulled me back into my real calling and gave me a sharp reality check. Just because the “invisible children’s” faces aren’t all over my facebook feed doesn’t mean they aren’t still facing horrendous suffering. Just because something isn’t popular to be riled up about doesn’t mean it shouldn’t still make our blood boil to hear about it. Sustainable change is hard and it requires perseverance and sacrifice. And then God showed me this truth and rocked my world: just because I’d forgotten about the suffering people around the world didn’t mean that He had. If I am called to be Christ’s representative here on earth, how can I think that sharing links all day every day is enough?
Above, Jon boldly declared to stand against evil men committing atrocities. But more importantly, he vowed to stand with the children of God and to be His open arms waiting to tell them that someone does love, claim and cherish them. They don’t care that I ‘liked’ their cause one time before I went on to sip my chocomochalattepuccino and hit the mall for a little “me time”. Those who are suffering will only know my heart is for them when I make a real stand and pour out my life for them. Why? Because Jesus came and poured out His life for me. If the Creator of the universe can give His life, His entire life, for me, how can I do anything but pour out my life for others around me? I don’t believe everyone should pack up and move across the world to far away countries. I do, however, boldly state that if followers of Jesus are not giving their lives to serve and love those around them, they have missed the point. It isn’t enough to just facebook rant about whatever the popular issue is. It isn’t enough to live our lives for ourselves and ignore the children of God around the world. My plea to all who claim the name of Jesus is to not be satisfied with this powerless, loveless Christianity that has become the norm in America. We are called to be world-changing, people-loving, God-fearing, poured-out servants. And the crazy thing is, there’s nothing more satisfying and fulfilling than to give your life for another. And I’m not talking about taking a bullet for someone. I’m talking about true sacrificial love that lets itself be given for the sake of another. That is the kind of life we are made for, and we won’t ever really be joy-filled if we don’t have God’s heart. Jesus said it best in Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets”.” If we love God and are growing in Him we are going to love people. And love will NOT sit idly by when its’ object is suffering. So it’s time for us to arise, to stand against evil, to stand with the weak, the hurting, those who suffer and walk in the footsteps of our servant-King, Jesus. As Jon said earlier, my prayer is this: God, teach show me what it looks like to take a stand.
Jon and I are getting ready to put our house on the market next week. Prayer for guidance and a quick sale (Lord willing!)
I’ve been working on this blogpost for a while. I wasn’t sure what or how to say it; I just knew it was my next topic. To be honest, as I’m typing I’m still not sure how to say what it is that is weighing on me. I just know that I need to. I thought I did for myself, but I think now (after hearing the teaching from church last night) that I need to do it for more than me. I think it’s really for all of us.
I have a lot of uh… “quirks” to me. (As you can see). It’s been one of the greatest challenges of my life to understand, accept and embrace that God designed my personality as He did. As a friend put it during his teaching, “God loves me. Not only that, He LIKES me! He like really likes me, He doesn’t just tolerate me!” And I think each and every one of us has a struggle to truly embrace that truth in our life, especially teenage girls. Having been one myself, I still struggle to move past the hurt that faced me as a weirdo back then. Even in the church, I did not fit in.
We are told constantly how we OUGHT to be. Culture says we ought to be beautiful, and funny, and smart, and witty, and thin, and cute, and spunky, and flirty and and and. It’s easy for us in the church to reject that. But we have this constant stream of OUGHT from the church too. (I can’t speak really to men here, being as I’m not one :P). But women are told REPEATEDLY that we are to get married, settle down, have kids, stay home, and join Bible study. Which is all great stuff to do, IF you’re called to it. I have been told that a woman who has no desire for children is: not saved, an abomination, in unrepentant sin, unmarriable, in need of prayer to change her heart, unnatural, duped their husbands into marriage… So you can imagine the discouragement one might feel if they don’t desire children. I am one such woman. It’s not that I hate children (it’s my primary ministry in church). I don’t hate God’s ruling in my life; I strive to walk in the center of His will for me. Yet somehow the GENERAL feel in a lot of the American church is that I’m broken. (I can only imagine that single women or other folks who don’t fit the mold must feel somewhat the same).
This general air of disapproval for who I felt called to be should not have, but DID, allow for a foothold for the Enemy in my life. For many years I believed the lie he whispered that I was somehow broken, dysfunctional, worthless… Then God led me to a husband with the same desires and callings in his life, and He led me to a church eager and willing to send people out for the gospel, and He led me to a ministry that has a heart to go to dangerous places and provide love, security and acceptance to children who have been left alone with no one to claim them. And He revealed in Jon and I a desire to be free to move into dangerous areas and do dangerous work for His glory. I don’t think parents are necessarily suited to some work for the Lord, because it is reckless and foolish to risk your life when you have committed to raising children for the Lord. Where the Lord leads, we need to follow, but Jon and I are uniquely suited to MORE dangerous work than some others may be because they have children to love and raise up. Jon and I are uniquely suited to love on children who have no one, and if God calls, to help raise up these children who’ve been abandoned and left on their own. God can call us to active warzones, to disease-ridden areas, to areas where we may be martyred, and we can go with no reservation because we don’t have little lives depending on us to be “mom” and “dad”.
This is one example of how God designed me to be suited for the unique calling He has on my life. It is my PERSONAL example of how not fitting in to what is expected, is exactly what He expected of me. Even crazier, He DESIGNED that into me. He designed in my ability to get along with children better than adults, my desire to help children while not raising my own, my love of helping the hurting, my odd sense of humor, my goofy laugh, my social-awkwardness, and my intense desire to go do things that other people see and insane and dangerous. Each of these things and more I can see now how they perfectly fit the plan He put in place for my life.
So my plea today is to root out in ourselves what is sinful, to repent and turn from it. But to not confuse the unique designs of God for mistakes or errors in our personalities. We are all called to various ministries and places, and we should not allow ourselves to believe the lie that God made a mistake in us, or that He wishes we would change who He made us to be. We should not believe that we are all called to the same life and same personalities. God loves variety in His flowers, trees, fish, birds and all of creation; why would we believe that is any different in His children? And for those of us in the privileged position of being involved in ministries, friendships, families, whatevers, we must be cautious not to, intentionally or otherwise, discourage those around us with our “molds” we want to fit into. I don’t believe that a man/woman called to singleness, parent-less-ness (yup, that’s a word), late marriage, weird ministries or anything else should struggle to fit in the church. God has a distinct niche for each of His children that will say yes to His calling. For some of us that is raising our children in community with other wonderful believers in the local church, for some it is a life of singleness sold out for His glory, for some it’s ministry to those deemed “icky” or “weird”, for some it’s saying ‘God, I don’t know, but lead where you will and I’ll go single, married or otherwise’, and for some (I think) lucky few of us, it is saying ‘God, send me to Africa, I am ready to go’.”
Still awaiting my updated passport.
We are getting ready for our garage sale the weekend of the 12 of September, and we are preparing the house to go on the market!