My husband is relieved to report I am no longer sighing. I picked up my sadness and let the Lord turn it to joy. Anytime I take a problem to the Lord and trust he will show the way through it I feel a great burden lift and what felt so oppressive is hardly recognizable. The Christian walk wasn’t promised to be easy but that’s usually what I’m looking for it to be. Let’s just be real. I don’t honestly want to wake up in the morning and suffer. I want to go to a party. But how would I learn to trust God if I didn’t need help?
I had a dream last night that we were traveling and my biggest most expensive camera lenses were stolen along with one of my cameras. I wailed. I felt so violated. All my birthday and Christmas gifts were gone. My husband sighed this time and shrugged. We can’t replace them in a snap of the fingers. I woke up so mad from being violated. Having something valuable and sentimental stolen is a horrible feeling.
I feel like I’ve been through a graduate level course where I have learned how it feels to have valuable things stolen. It always begins with lies that breed actions. Sometimes it is our reputation that is stolen with slander and lies. Other times it is the result of a false assumption that we can be relieved of the piles of money we have sitting around, as if we don’t know what to do with it, and we won’t care or notice it is missing. That’s farfetched. We are watched carefully as an organization here in the US for how we use every dollar we send to Uganda. Craig asked a man we worked with in the first days of our arrival what a Ugandan man really thinks about a mzungu and this is what he said: “He has millions and millions of dollars. He doesn’t ever have to work. And everything he knows is right.”
Imagine working against that set of assumptions. In truth, we save, we receive generous sacrificial donations for a year and then we arrive in Africa to help the poor. What do they see? People from the west arriving with a lot of money to do good works. People who are teachers come. We have essentially created the lie with our abnormal circumstances. What is very special to us looks routine to them.
When Craig told him that he works fourteen hour days he couldn’t believe it. I don’t think westerners have accurately portrayed ourselves to the African’s when we arrive in teams to do and give away resources. We need to come, keep coming, build relationships, and give skills away so they can do it for themselves. But that’s not a short term mission trip. That requires deeper roots than a project status. That is what we are striving to do with Kirabo Seeds.
We learned that there are people who don’t want to help themselves. They only want the free handout and actually working for it wasn’t considered. Many times we tried to engage them to help themselves but the cry was, “we are the poor, you are supposed to come and relieve us”. In the end we were criticized for not giving enough, and it was our fault the children suffered. We were condemned publically for not listening to God. Ouch. There’s the open wound. It is easy to make the next step anger. But our God is slow to anger so I try and try to learn to be more like him.
I ask God: What do I do next?
This is what I read in Zechariah this morning as he was posing a similar question to the Lord:
“And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah: This is what the LORD Almighty says: Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.” Zechariah 7:8-10
But they didn’t listen and their hearts were hardened so the lord became angry and he said: When I called, they did not listen; so when they called I would not listen, says the Lord almighty. V13
What I am able to take away from this lesson is to keep myself focused on true justice, mercy, compassion and keep my heart pure. Then I can continue to do the work with the fatherless. God will take care of those whose hearts are hardened. They are not my cause.
What a sense of freedom! Suddenly, all the creative ideas for the work we can do begin to flow again and all the clouds of anger part and clear out of the sky. Sometimes I wish I could have just read the book rather than live the experience. But now I really know it in my heart and it changes who I am and what I do. That’s real learning, not just knowing. As hard as it was to get it, I’d say it’s worth it. I trust God has great purpose for us to have lived out these lessons so we can finish the work for him that he’s given us to do.