This was yesterday’s quote that caught my heart. Let me explain. Every Institute class, we take three days, and then some, to hear each person’s personal story from their childhood to the present day. These days are so important for each class, as they build vulnerability, trust, and compassion for one another. I am always struck by the brutality, violence and suffering that the vast majority of our students have endured in their lifetime. The quote above was by one young woman, sharing the story of her father’s murder, planned out by her dad’s second wife. The wife got soldiers to murder him, which put fear into the hearts of the children. They didn’t go search for the body for 3 days, and then when they finally felt they were no longer a target, they found him partially devoured by dogs and “ We carried his body in pieces” for a quick burial. She carried her father’s arm, and when her tears flowed and her body sobbed, I sobbed too.
Her story did not end in tragedy though –She ended with great joy and hope. She even said “I’m not the youngest in my family, but I appear to be so because when I return home I am like a flower! My other sisters look old with sin, but I am beautiful!” I still find myself smiling at this woman’s words!
These stories, these real life testimonies are sometimes so hard for my human mind to grasp. I want to reconcile the suffering in my mind, to understand how one can endure so much. I go back to one of my favorite phrases, “But God…” Not in the “but” that is like a child, asking for a second chance. But God, in the sense of “I AM” who I am. Make sense?
It’s common for our Ugandan students to think that we from the West have never gone through much suffering, until they sit and listen to their fellow classmates’ stories. This class, we have a western woman with GREAT pain and loss in her childhood, and then even into her adulthood. You would never know it, as joy beams from her face. She’s lost parents, sister, and her first born child, carried to term. How is it even possible for this beautiful soul to carry such joy? But God.
Within the last year alone I’ve counted 11 women who have been either sexually abused or raped in their lifetime. There is nothing in this world I abhor more then hearing of one of God’s daughters being taken advantage of. I’ve watched many of them unfold, build trust, learn to forgive and let go of anger towards their oppressors. This isn’t an easy journey, let alone one I take lightly as I walk with some of them. But GOD is loving, active, tender, and His compassion abounds to all!
I love being a part of God’s work. His story. His love. Without Him, I would be nothing. Without Him, I’d be in slavery, bondage, and wallowing in my own pit of self-destruction. These stories aren’t mine, they’re His. Each story is of great price and incredible value. I wrote a song when I was newly married that had a chorus like this:
“Your story is of great price –which is the story of Christ; So let down your fears and tell me what He’s done. Tell me of His death, tell me how He rose again and changed your life.”
That’s His business –changing lives, changing hearts. But God…