Last night I had the great privilege to speak to the Baylor Women’s League. My friend Victoria Mayfield owns the shop, Evolve, in San Antonio where the event was hosted. Victoria was the first shop to sell our crafts from Uganda. I was a customer in my stinky dirty riding clothes when she saw orphan care on my business card. This was a God moment for both of us. When she opened her store she wanted to partner with a meaningful ministry so when women left her shop they would be cloaked in strength and dignity as well as beautiful affordable clothes. She features many businesses that give back to worthy causes. She is also a sponsor in our program. She’s supportive of what we are doing for God in Uganda and I’m thankful for her heart with this cause.
It is my joy to speak and share the ways God has answered my prayer to be useful for him. To be able to make a map of how God has accomplished his will for these children by using our willingness to work is COOL. I don’t think there is a figure on a paycheck that could give me the same satisfaction I have knowing I’m using my gifts and talents to serve the God whom I love passionately. He loved me first. This work is my response of gratitude.
My daily life is consumed with orphan care. I’m often so busy seeking ways to help them reach their potential I forget how wretched their backgrounds sound to someone unfamiliar with the work. I don’t have any pity for these children. I have so much respect for the strength in their character to endure some hardship and come through smiling. I admire their creativity in the midst of having what seems like nothing. I appreciate the community that occurs over chores like laundry or cooking. We don’t have to give them fitness warnings or PE classes because they carry heavy water jugs up a big hill, take the goats out to graze, clean the house, and run errands…literally running. They do walk a mile to school, but they have two shoes and it isn’t uphill both ways.
Here’s the surprise. Not one of them complains about their work or responsibilities in our home. Some of them dodge boring work. But Auntie Phiona and Uncle Robert know who they are and go get them. These children remember what it was like to go to bed hungry. They ran over rocky dirt roads barefoot. They sat naked while the one set of clothes they owned hung to dry. They slept in someone elses bed with as many people in it that could fit. All of these conditions feel normal when they compare notes with other kids they know who do the same thing. No big deal. No one they knew had their own bed. The idea of it was ridiculous.
Yet, some of them suffered knowing they were a burden and unwanted. This is the part that breaks my heart. I know one of them was forced to sleep under the bed on the damp dirt floor while adult evening rituals occurred in the bed above. Rather than going to school they were sent to the streets to sell or beg, or out to the garden to dig with a hoe. Some six year olds had to babysit several infants all day every day while the adult was at work. Some earned pocket money by doing other peoples laundry only to have those coins taken away to purchase alcohol. Stealing was natural and normal to get their needs met. Those were their times of survival. The children who have the greatest emotional struggles are the ones who were left alone. Loneliness in this culture is a rare condition. There are so many people around everywhere we go. Ugandans like to be together. Community is their expertise. I’m an avid student of how they accomplish such brilliant community. I watch it with a notebook and study wishing America would sit up and realize our failure with it. Anyway… a rejected child, orphaned, ridiculed and shamed is more than lonely. He is hurt. Truthfully, suicidal.
So we (Kirabo Seeds) pick up those pieces, glue them with God’s love and give them an opportunity to do the real work of a child. We want them to learn, express, explore, try, dream, laugh, play, help, develop responsibility, know they are loved and believe they are safe. With children it doesn’t take as much time to heal as I imagined. Besides, who am I to predict the extent of work God will do in these children to make them whole? These children are in the hand of God. He is the father to the fatherless. (psalm 68:5). I am always poised to receive the miracles that God will do in the hearts of these children. I am ready to respond to the opportunity they may have for their futures. We are the coaches on the ground and I love them as much as I can, but it is God who satisfies their need to be loved, known, valued, and secure. It’s the same truth for all of us adults on this earth, we are just so much more stubborn about receiving it. The faith of a child is truly a divine masterpiece that blossoms and lasts. I love my front row seat at this God show. Love it. Love it. Love it.
But…it isn’t without danger and I haven’t come through to this point without opposition from spiritual darkness. I’ve been trampled. I felt so beaten that it could only be God who could lift me up, dust me off and say, “back to work for you. You help the kids. I’ll take care of the enemy.” I can only say that’s what I learned because I cried my eyes out reading the bible trying to understand how to take a step after multiple beatings. I finally heard it loud and clear. If I remain angry and seek revenge would there be anything left of my talents and strengths to work for the children? God is clear in his word when he says revenge is mine and how one acts with anger is a sin.
It is a daily choice for me to stomp my foot at the dark mess turn away and say NO you can’t have my attention. I can see how the evil one would like to distract me away from doing good for the kids. My sense of justice and righteous anger is my tripping point. I shouldn’t have been surprised that after we arranged for our children to do Christian outreach with hundreds of other children in the village that some big problems with our enemies would come next. The hostile neighbors began building a foundation on land we own. This is serious trespassing. This was land that was meant to be useful for the children. Yes I was ANGRY. But, I can outsmart the old nasty ugly devil by keeping my mind clear and my heart pure while I spend myself doing what I love to do, what I’ve been given to do: Help the children. I believe and I know for sure those who work for the darkness and steal from orphaned children will have an angry God to contend with, and I wouldn’t want to be them. No way. Those people will never get a glance from me. They can talk to my lawyer… or the jailer, I can only hope.