Interruptions derail the course of normalcy. In a way. I can’t help but notice the constant interruptions and I’m not sure if it’s combining two cultures in one program or Kingdom persons fighting against injustice or just the awkward notions in life.
Bosco is sick. A boy who still smiles at cookies and popcorn and knows life through his 4ft perspective. He has sickle cell anemia and AIDS. The doctor says Bosco has a chronic fate. When he dances he looks kind of like someone’s grandfather … Barely bending at the joints but never missing a beat. Still, he smiles. We walked Bosco home one afternoon at sunset just to pray for him and his family. I remember sloshing through the puddles in my rainboots and he was just grinning at the funny white woman…
Bosco is an orphan. He lives with his grandparents in a hut. Most people have at least two huts in their homestead … One hut is a kitchen and the second is the home. This family only had one for both needs. That means smoke is rising from the fire long after dinner when you’re trying to study or sleep. Here we were in one of the most picturesque moments, a moment when I thought to myself, “I’m in Africa” and felt it.
In that moment: The two grandparents are sitting on the far side of the small hut. Our pastor is sitting beside Bosco on a thin mattress that is noticeably aged. Sandra, our translator, is next to me. I’m in a bamboo chair by the door, keeping my muddy boots outside. I’m listening to the rain drizzle and the warm fire crackle. I watch the sun set from my spot in a cozy, smoky hut. I can’t help but feel like I’ve been allowed to interrupt life. I look around me inside the hut as the pastor begins praying for Bosco and I see a family bruised by death, disease, and poverty. But they smile. And they allow me to interrupt their normal life to experience this moment.
(My view from inside the hut)
The next week we made another home visit to a widow. This trip, sadly, was to discuss problems about her daughter leaving school and running away from home. She’s lost. At this point we haven’t seen her in 5 months.
The drive takes about half an hour through mint fields, it’s my favorite drive. I always roll down my window so the sharp aroma carries through the car. Anyway, as life usually goes we had no way to contact the home and tell the woman we were coming. No phone, no mail, no anyway to tell her to expect us. It tends to be a hit or miss around here. We arrived at her home and she wasn’t there. The neighbor said she had just left for the market. Almost immediately we saw the woman running from afar … She was coming. When she arrived short of breath she explained, “Well I reached the road and saw tire tracks. I knew it must be you people coming to visit me. So I turned around.” Yet another moment when I sensed I interrupted life and thought, “I’m in Uganda” and felt it like never before. “Tire tracks…”, my mind reeled, “Who knew that was a form of communication”.
(One of the former bullies is preaching. Jesus goes after the lost.)
Another meeting we had was with a family we had to investigate. Long complicated story but something wasn’t matching up … Something was being hidden … I didn’t feel like words from mouth matched thoughts from within. The way the family didn’t answer my questions but replied with their own inquiries told me someone in the group was up to no good. People from the village tend to operate with mind games, Americans are just plain straightforward. “Look”, I warned, “We have 30 kids waiting for us at Bible Club. If you don’t start answering my questions I’m going to leave. This is your shot to plea your case.” Suddenly the course changed and the family began working together to tell me the story. But something was still off … The answers were almost perfect but for some reason we questioned the result of the family feud.
A week later a woman from that home approached our staff. She told us what we’d been looking for. She confessed she had not told us the truth because she feared the man in charge of the home. She had a different story and could not tell us at the home, but she told us in that moment.
Again, interrupted. Somehow secrecy and corruption were derailed by conviction for justice for the oppression of women. We find ourselves reaching out far beyond orphans and children. All sorts of people come to us for prayer. Women whose husbands don’t love them because they have yet to bare a son. Older youth who come to bible club probably because our translator is beautiful but stay because the teaching is intriguing. Volunteers, guardians, widows, the elderly, teachers, school principles, and even people in the US have been touched.
(Most of the kids used to be too scared/stubborn to hug me…
Some sort of transformation at heart has occurred since then)
Last week I was speaking at church in Kentucky. One woman wanted to support a child so she picked up a photo. “Oh I love this boy!” I told her, “He is the sweetest. He’s extremely shy but on Sundays he grabs two sticks and an empty water basin and starts playing drums for worship…” My words drowned out because the woman started crying, instantly. She was touched and her heart was interrupted because she suddenly knew something so sweet and charismatic about a little boy from so far away.
Our work is all about the interruptions coming down from heaven to earth. Life here in the village is not the same as it was before. Hearts are transformed, stories are evolving, and hope is on the rise. Jesus interrupts the sick to restore inner healing within a body that barely moves. Jesus interrupts the lost to give hope to widows who have lost so much and feel like there is nothing more they can do for their children. He interrupts injustice and provides people to care for the oppressed, people they can trust. Jesus interrupts hearts, minds, curses, habits, beliefs, sadness, and life on earth.
He doesn’t need a phone call or snail mail to speak to you … It’s the tire tracks that lead us to people delivering his message. It’s the small ways that God uses us as his voice. To speak up for the weary and broken. To defend the rights of the poor and needy. To pray for the sick and lost. We are all touched somehow. I’m convinced whether it’s a person or a sunset God is sending his love, his voice, and a message to interrupt life here on earth.
“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”
(Romans 1:20 NLT)
(Unfiltered sunset from last night)