Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Sometimes Life is Walking Uphill Through Mud, Holding Jesus' Hand.

Romans 12:3-21

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do no be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. One the contrary:

"If your enemy is hungry,
feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

In most translations this chapter is split up into four separate passages, but I think the chapter itself is extremely connected read from beginning to end, even though it deals with different themes.

This past month as been one of the most challenging I have ever faced. There have been so many times where I have wanted to throw my hands up to the sky, pack my suitcases and go back to Canada. But then a voice comes to the very centre of my soul and says, "You're here for a reason. It's not time to leave yet."

Two weeks ago, the mechanics decided to make good on their threats to take justice in their own hands and deal with the kids who stole their phones and fought in their shop. Two weeks ago, Tuesday morning, the group of mechanics found every child they could in Kivulu and beat them mercilessly. It didn't matter if these kids were from the street or had homes of their own, they beat them. They even went as far as going to the house Hope Street meets at and beat the mom, daughter and twin grandchildren to make a point. After that they all but destroyed the local pastor's boys' dormitory at the church before the police finally showed up and stopped the mechanics from going any further. Except they didn't arrest the mechanics, they arrested all the street kids they found.

At the end of the riot, at least five boys were taken to the hospital, blood all over the slum. One boy was so badly injured that even the police thought he was dead because he was unconscious when they carried him to the ambulance.

Andrew and I went to the police station in Kivulu the next day and tried to talk to the OC in charge - he refused because he was too afraid of what everyone in the slum might do to him if they saw him talking to me. Both he and another officer tried to scare me from ever coming back and working in the slum again. "If they had seen you yesterday they would have killed you!" (This was an exaggeration. No, it would not have been safe for me to be in the slum during the riots, but at no point would my life have been in danger). The real reason the OC didn't want me there is because he was afraid. He is afraid of the mechanics, and he is afraid of the street kids. This is obvious by the fact he never arrested the men who beat these kids until they were almost dead.

When I left after that "non-interview" with the OC, I was angry. So angry and filled with an indignation at the injustice and fear that I see towards these children and the lack of ability for people to do the jobs that they are being paid to do - how is that keeping people safe???

Thursday Andrew and I went to visit some of the boys who were in the hospital. This hospital was not like any hospital I have been to before. Because of the elections coming up in two weeks, the government has stopped handing out any medication for any ailment. This means there is more money for campaigning and military transport. It also means that people have to pay outrageous amounts of money for all drugs that the public hospitals should be providing.

When we got into the area of the hospital these boys were in, it was a giant, open room with beds, and many sights and sounds that were hard to digest. The boy we went to see was the one who everyone thought was dead in Kivulu. He has a fractured skull and brain damage from the beating he took. And there was one boy who had been transferred to the ICU because his injuries were even more severe. This boy was barely conscious when we prayed for him, his eyes rolled back into his head and he kept scratching his face - obviously uncomfortable and in pain. It was heartbreaking to see.

Over the last week, the uncles with Hope Street have been trying to get meetings with the mechanics and police to figure out how to sort things out so that our program can start again, to no avail. Pushing, pushing, pushing, and seemingly no change.

Then yesterday for me was spent going from one government official's office to the next, walking all over Kampala, trying to get permission for interviews pertaining to the incident in Kivulu, and to flesh out in more detail the issues that these kids deal with, and how it also effects the community as a whole (as well as those in government). The first lady I spoke with in the morning was like ice. I've never had a discussion so cold before. Even my Fine Arts portfolio interview for the University of British Columbia was better than that. I felt like vomiting in the office I was so anxious as I spoke. And that's kind of how the day went.

I was so frustrated by the end of it. GOD, WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE SO HARD???? WHY ARE YOU TEACHING ME PERSEVERANCE SO INTENSELY RIGHT NOW??? WHY CAN'T I JUST HAVE ONE WEEK THAT'S SMOOTH SAILING??? And do you want to know something? There was no answer. God was silent. I think sometimes God brings us through a season that is so challenging that our muscles are strengthened. I know that's the season I'm walking through right now. It's like I go from one s*show to the next, and yet I feel God is near, not far off. He may have been quiet yesterday, but He was still present.

Romans chapter 12 is exactly how I feel right now. In the first paragraph, we are reminded to use the gifts that God has given us, specifically in the way He has given them to us. Use what you have been given. Regardless of the way we feel emotionally, we should use our gifts to bless others, because in that we rebuke the devil and receive blessing ourselves.

In the second paragraph we are reminded to always love. ALWAYS. Not just when we feel like it, or when it's easy, but ALWAYS. I think that's why verse 12 says, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." There are many times, even most days, when I do not FEEL like loving people. But Paul reminds us to be joyful, patient and faithful. This is stuff of courageous people who persevere through it all. I did not feel like loving that woman I had a discussion with yesterday morning. Not at all. I felt like telling her where to go. But I know God will fight my battles. And what He calls me to do is be obedient to where He has called me to walk.

This brings me to the last part of the chapter. 

"Bless those who persecute you…do not repay evil for evil…

"If your enemy is hungry,
feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

God is the one who fights my battles. He is the one who has control over my circumstances and sees the end and way out when I do not. And I do not see a way out of these predicaments. But He does. And I have to trust that He is already working in the hearts of the mechanics and the hearts of the police officers and in the hearts of the government officials. I believe in miracles and I believe in God's faithfulness and that He will never leave me.

My mom sent me a devotional yesterday that was exactly in line with what's been going on, and I'm going to share it now:

"Follow Me one step at a time. That is all I require of you. In fact, that is the only way to move through this space-time world. You see huge mountains looming, and you start wondering how you're going to scale those heights. Meanwhile, because you're not looking where you're going you stumble on the path where I am leading you now. As I help you get back on your feet, you tell me how worried you are about the cliffs up ahead. But you don't know what will happen today, much less what tomorrow will bring. Our path may take an abrupt turn, leading us away from those mountains. There may be an easier way up the mountains than is visible from this distance. If I do lead you up the cliffs, I will equip you thoroughly for that strenuous climb.

Keep your mind on the present journey, enjoying My Presence. Walk by faith, not by sight, trusting Me to open up the way before you."

Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. Exodus 13:13-14


  1. Take courage Holly. He will do exactly as He has promised. I'm proud of you and praying for you. -Cathy Copeland (from church)