I want to be honest with you. For the first time in my life, I did not want to go to Uganda. I didn’t think it was necessary, and I had become hardened to the work God had called me to. I had convinced myself that by going to the office every day and by advocating for the least and the last, that somehow I was still honoring God.
I understand now that I was not.
My heart aches even saying the word. Uganda is the place that God showed me why He had created me. And God had to take me back there this summer to remind me of that. I also watched God reveal His plan to my friends, and I can’t wait to unfold those stories for you! Some of those stories are too precious to share here, but I saw their glistening eyes, and heard their words and knew God was there, working: patiently healing, loving, breaking, and providing. If I hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t know the sweet heartache of having watched that happen. So I’m grateful.
Uganda revealed herself to me this summer as well, in unbearable ways, in glorious ways, and in ways that have left me completely devastated, and ready to change things. I’ve never before witnessed how tangibly hurt the people of northern Uganda are. I’ve been there so many times before but this was different. It was like the trauma of the past had softened just enough to allow my brothers and sisters to mourn or to cry or to scream and tell their stories.
I’ve spent the days since I returned from Uganda thinking about the many women — widows mostly — who were caring for six or seven orphaned children. I honestly can’t even tell you why they do that. They take these children into their meager huts and love them and provide what they can. But they have nothing. Is that what the love of Christ looks like? Do we, as Americans, really even understand what pure and undefiled religion is? Would we sacrifice in that way when we don’t know where our own next meal is coming from, when we sleep on the hard pressed earth, and when the wounds on our hearts are so deep that we will never stop hemorrhaging from them? I don’t know that I could possibly do that, if I’m being honest with you.
But I can help them to do that. Northern Uganda can heal. These women can be given the opportunity to thrive! When these women thrive, the orphans in their care will be fed. They will go to school. If I’m being honest with you, the orphans in their care will survive.
It’s time for northern Uganda to heal.
Healing is in the stories. Healing is in being LISTENED to. Healing is a body of Christ that is willing to come around the pain. It’s being given the opportunity to be self-sustaining. There is so much dignity in that. This is a generation that has had two decades of opportunity and capability stolen from them. But we can help them get that back.
I saw many things in Uganda this summer. Pain and suffering, healing and redemption. But I also saw solutions. I saw that recovery is possible and I’m convicted to be a part of that solution. I ask you to be a part of that solution as well. It will hurt and will most certainly take you outside of yourself. But I assure you, this is possible. And we can do something about this.
As the final Sweet Sleep Uganda team returns home this week, I reluctantly bid this chapter of Sweet Summer farewell.
We have much more work to do, as teams leave for Moldova and Ethiopia in the coming days and weeks. As for me, I am bracing my heart for what God has in store for me next. I can’t imagine loving more or fighting harder than where I am right now. But as we all know, it’s not through my strength, or my love, that I will continue, it is through His. And His strength, power, glory, and love are limitless. And so we continue. For Him. For His children.