A Heart for the Children

At the beginning of my time here I was frustrated by the feeling that the OT (Occupational Therapy) skills God has blessed me with were being wasted. It is humbling to look at the need around you and know that there really is nothing that you can do. Seeing a number of children with Cerebral Palsy and other physical disbailities wrentched my heart and put a longing in my heart to DO something. Except I felt that there wasn’t much I could do without knowing them more and the situations of their families. I felt that two weeks simply wasn’t enough time to be offer any lasting support.

What makes me want to fix things so badly? And what if they aren’t really broken? Feeling frustrated that I couldn’t do more for them has forced me to shift my focus. God has been showing me that the greatest thing I can do is simply to LOVE them and to show them how much the Father loves them… and pray for them.

Matthew 19:14 “Let the little hildren come to me and do not top them for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these…”

Last week we went to the Village of one of our friends, Francis. Whilst there, we spent time outside playing with the children (there were baby animals too – gorgeous kid goats only a few days old – needless to say I was in my element!!). Amongst the children was a precious young boy who appeared to have developmental delays. He moved freely amongst the other children but did not appear to be a part of their activities. We played kick and roll-the -ball together for a while but then I became involved in a conversation. I noticed that our eyes continued to find each others – I picked him up and he clung to me. I have never been held to so deperately. What a privilege that God gave me an opportunity to give that boy the physical affection, time and attention that he so longed for. What a privilege to be able to give him a small part of God’s heart for him! What a privilge to be given his love so freely.

Following on from the Village experience, God has given me other small opportunities to love and, with my frustration now eased, I began to find little ways to use OT. There is a boy here that seems to have Cerebral Palsy primarily affecting his calves who walks on the tops of his feet, on the knuckles. Maggie and I took turns carrying him on our backs at the sports camp and he appeared to love the movement sensations of jogging and spinning and bouncing with us.

Being of white skin here is another reason why the children are attracted to us. Maggie and I walk most places and are followed by choruses of “Muzungu” and “Muno”, which mean “white”. I went down to the field behind us to watch rugby training one night (yes, rugby has made it to Uganda!). Whilst I was there a little girl of about 18 months came up to me simply to lay her hand in mine and stare at the differences of our skins. Her Dad tod me she had said, “Daddy, I want to touch the Muno”.

The children at Soldiers of Christ ministry love nothing more than to pull on our arms, be carried, held or swung around. They lead us by the hand to show us what is important to them, such as a puppy or a toy. Their unique personalities come out. It is interesting to see which team members become attached to which children and vice versa. We had a time of prayer at the ministry over the leadership of Soldiers of Christ and then the children. I had a picture of those children being little candle lights that spread throughout Uganda, lighting bonfires of the Father’s love in the land. I believe that God has a very special purpose for each of those little ones and is watching over them.

I know that, whilst I am leaving Gulu tomorrow, the children will come with me in my heart and will remain in my prayers. The Father has them in His tender care.

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Uganda – week 1

Afoyo! Greetings!

It seems much longer than a week since I left Australian shores for all good reasons. Arriving in Uganda I joined in with the ministry of a Discipleship Training School’s outreach team. My very dear friend, Jenny, has been leading the DTS team from the States. There are a couple of other ‘add ons’ like me. They are the first DTS team to partner with the ministry of Soldiers of Christ and have been busy building relationships at the ministry and within the community. I was blessed to come in to a group that had already done ground work establishing relationships.

What is happenings at Soldiers of Christ?

The team has helped to bring greater structure and accountability protocols to the ministry. Due to the blessings of people in the States the ministry has recently received hundreds of educational books. The team has catelogued the books and are now waiting on the manufacture of bookshelves to be able to set these up. Thanks to the generous donations from Australia the ministry will be able to pay school fees for next term for an approximate 60 school aged student sponsored by the organisation.

What has the past week looked like for me?

  • Preaching – I was privelged to preach at church on Sunday. I talked on wrestling with God and not against Him. The church service has a teaching, a time of testimonies and a sermon. Jenny led the teaching and taught on the Inductive Bible Study method we learnt on SBS. There is of course much worship and prayer in between.
  • Sports camp – This week and next we are running a sports camp during the school holidays for children 12 and over. The age restriction has not stopped younger children flocking around the oval! Our focuse has been on Volleyball and Soccer. There is apparantly a rugby team here that trains each week night and I hope to make my way down one evening.
  • School visits – The DTS team has been going to Gulu Army School one lunch time a week where students can choose to come to a teaching time. I joined in the team’s question and answer time last week. They asked some deep questions such as, “If God has forgiven us, why do we find it so hard to forgive each other?”
  • Back to school – I’m helping a student called Simon with his Biology which is bringing back some memories! Haha
  • Relationships – A lot of time is spent building relationships. This may be playing with the children at the ministry or conversing with older students and adults. Maggie and I were privelged to be invited to dinner with a family last week. It was humbling to share their meal and hear of their lives.
  • Titus Project – I am part of a team beginning to prepare for a Titus outreach within Uganda taht will start in October. This is a Bible Teaching outreach through Youth with a Mission. I won’t be here for it but I am helping them to prepare.

God has been doing so much already in this season. It is a joy to be here and see Him working in this land. I look at these people who have gone through so much and, by our standards, live ‘simply’ but even amidst the sorrow and the hardship they have a joy that cannot be beaten down. I will try and paint a picture of what I’ve seen of the culture and life here in the next entry but for now it is ‘good bye’. I’ll try to get some pictures up too!

Bless you!

History of the War – the Invisible Children

For those present on Sunday night at Albany Creek Uniting Church, we watched the DVD “Invisible Children: Rough Cut”. The documentary captures in graphic detail the effect of the rebel war in Northern Uganda. It was filmed by 3 young Americans who went to Africa searching for a story. What they found affected them so much that they could not forget, they could not return home and do nothing.

The documentary reveals the fear that reigned during the 20 years the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was in Northern Uganda. Children from remote villages commuted every night to sleep on verandas in towns, or within hospitals if they could find space. If they stayed at home they risked being abducted and forced to commit atrocities as children soldiers. The documentary forces one to step way outside the comfort zone of most but for that same reason, if you have not seen it, I highly recommend it.

For those of you who did see the documentary or are curious about knowing more, you can read more about the history of the war by going to the Invisible Children website:

http://www.invisiblechildren.com/history-of-the-war

Having watched the documentary my mind was drawn to the Scriptures and what God says about children. He places such worth on each child and especially the orphaned. Surely if God places such value on them then we must too. And if we are called to uphold justice for them then the next question we must ask is “what must I do?” For one, we can talk about it. We can share with others what we know – spread the word. We can seek more information so that we are informed about what is going on. We can take the question to God and ask Him what He would have us do…

http://www.invisiblechildren.com/peace-and-conflict-updates 

God commands justice for the orphaned:

  • Exodus 22:22 “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.”
  • Deuteronomy 10:18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow
  • Deuteronomy  24:17 “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless…”
  • Deuteronomy 27:19 “‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.'”
  • Psalms 68:5 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
  • Psalms 82:3 “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.”
  • Isaiah 1:17 “…learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
  • James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

God places great value on children:

  • Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children…”
  • Matthew 18:3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
  • Matthew 9:14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”