I have been “home” for almost two weeks now and I tell you, it is medicine to my soul. Although I very much enjoyed my time in Holland and in America, my heart ever yearned for what I have been called and activated to do, living among the people of South Sudan and now Uganda, immersing myself in their culture, now my culture, learning from Jesus daily in all life’s workings and wanderings, just being what He has created me to be, love.
Each day I sit with my staff throughout the day in our various works and I find myself just enjoying them and enjoying our family. I LOVE to end my days sitting in the kitchen with the cooks and eating my favorite Sudanese food and talking about old times in South Sudan and reminiscing about how good our God is. The people of Africa LOVE to relive the stories of how God has impacted their lives and how He has saved them time and again out of their situations, out of wars and famines and droughts and children dying. Through all of these things they offer the King praise, with tears and with passion. Perhaps a visitor who does not understand this, might have heard the same testimony three times during their visit and by the forth telling they might emotionally “check out” during the retelling. For us, we get excited every time, even more excited as we get to live it over and over again with them.
Every Wednesday we meet together as a staff and we find ourselves on our knees with tears recounting the blessings of God in our lives. We are really so thankful to be where we are because we do hear every week how much more serious things are becoming in our land of South Sudan. We never fail to pray for this nation, it is still a part of our daily life. We receive phone calls from friends and family weekly and we stay connected to them. One of our children who grew to marry and become a mother lived in one of the border towns in South Sudan. We kept in touch by phone but had not seen each other since 2011. We learned that she and all of the townspeople had to run from their town and all ran across the border like hundreds of thousands of others. She has two small children and a husband who left her abandoned. She had only what she could carry.
This girl had a successful business in this town and was doing so well and all of it was gone in a snap of the finger, the click of a rifle, the crunch of the bush under booted feet. She found herself in a refugee camp with not even a tarp to call her own. The UN is out of money and cannot even help those who are running to them these days. We found her and we immediately sent transport money for her to come now, and bring these two babies. She arrived at 2:00 am on Monday and we jumped in our little minivan to pick her up on the side of the road in the dark where the big bus had left her. She stood there alone with her little luggage and her sleepy babies, everything still in the dead of night. I wonder what was going through her mind?
Was she thinking, there is no shooting, there are no crunching boots in the bush, there is only a gentle rain falling on my face to tell me that a new life is here for me and my babies. I am safe. I am home. I can rest in my spirit once again. I don’t have to run and forage for food and wonder where I will sleep tonight. I tell you, it was very hard for me to be in America and not think of these very things. Unless one has been through the fire, the heat cannot be understood or even comprehended. It is just a story about a fire. I am reminded of the three boys who were thrown in the fire by Nebukednezzer and how Jesus showed up in there with them and they didn’t get burned. NOW that fire story makes sense to me and to this girl. It is no longer just a story. It is comprehendible.
Every week we hear stories like this and each time we at Iris Ministries South Sudan/Uganda try to find a way to help rescue people from the fire, to bring them out and let them feel the gentle rain on their faces once again. When we stopped at the side of the road on Monday morning at 2:00 am we hugged and cried and rejoiced that another one of our family had made it “home”. I pulled her and her babies close to my chest and to my heart as we stood in the gentle rain, rejoicing at the goodness of our Savior once again, there in the quiet darkness, yet so full of light and hope, a bright future. Today I just had her sign a contract and she is now a vital part of our staff. She is just overwhelmed that life has led her full circle back to us, and now being raised up to a place of leadership over the children that she was once a part of. Going through the fire with God at our side will bring promotion. If we can trust Him in the fire, then He can trust us with the fire, and us coming out refined even more, looking like Him.
Since I have been back my days have been consumed with paperwork and legal meetings and government meetings as we pursue registering ourselves properly in Uganda and getting permission to open a children’s home. Uganda has very strict regulations and there is a lot of red tape to cut through. I know that all of my time in South Sudan doing these same things has given me so much grace to now do the same here. A really giant rock has been moved aside for us. We arrived in Uganda on just travel visas, no one having passports. These papers are now expiring which would cost a lot of money to renew on all sides and a lot of problems even to renew them as Uganda requires passports. We have just received permission to obtain passports for all. This is a miracle, a real God miracle. It is for His glory because all of our children are called to the nations! This is a door opener when they come of age one day to go! It is such a prophetic act by God to show them that they are truly called. It basically puts it in writing.
Write down the vision and make it plain and let a herald run with it!!!! The ZEAL of the Lord clothes us as with a garment! These scriptures just jump to life in me. I can really envision the children of God, these very ones running with His vision, clothes in His zeal, into all the world, even while living back in their beloved country of South Sudan. God always makes a way where there seems to be no way. There is no way in the natural that any of this should happen, no way. Again it was an impossible situation as the normal order of things go in any of these countries. But God. I love being in impossible situations because THEN I KNOW that my God can do what only He Himself can do, the impossible made possible.
Sometimes I cry in my spirit because so many in the church in the first world will never “see” the impossible come to be possible. Church remains a duty, a thing that is good for us, something we must do to escape the flames. They don’t “see” the most amazing life that could ever be lived while here on this planet! There is so much more to SEE here and now, to experience here and now. Jesus said that we would do greater things than He did here on this earth BECAUSE of the power of the Holy Spirit resident in us and through us. HE is the ONE who causes the impossible to be possible WHEN we take the first step of a thousand miles. On my journey of a thousand miles, a million miles, Holy Spirit is in every step with me as I stay in step with Him. Not by our power or our might but by His Spirit says the Lord of Hosts, of Hosts!
Next week we get to host a Ugandan children’s center for two days as they come to meet our kids and spend time with us. We will worship together and share Jesus together and yes even share testimonies together because Ugandan children also have amazing stories to tell. We are so excited to join arms with these youth as we come to together and worship the ONE true God. I LOVE my LIFE, my LIFE! If you feel “dead” inside, come on and do something really crazy for and with Jesus and join the living. Step out of that comfy boat and dive headfirst into the waves and swim with Him. Be blessed this week with His radical love for you. He always meets YOU where YOU ARE. Just invite Him to come, He will.