Would You Go Back?

Ever since our return from the mission field, friends have asked, "Will you ever go back?"

That question stirs so many emotions.

My mind races with remembrances and I think, "It was a call not a decision when we went DSC00345 (Small)before and I would expect it to happen that way again if God intends us to go anywhere."

I say to the Lord what I have been saying, "Lord, here I am…yours…wherever you can use me."  DSC00344 (Small)

These thoughts were brought forward in my mind  this morning when I was meditating on Acts 17:16.  Luke is describing the inward thoughts of Paul when he arrived in Athens, "His spirit was stirred when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry."  I was taken by this poem by Eva Doerksen in light of this verse:

"If you had been to heathen lands,

Where weary ones with eager hands

Still plead, yet no one understand,

Would you go back?  Would you? 

 

If you had seen them in despair,

Beat on the breast, pull out the hair,

While demon powers filled the air,

Would you go back?  Would you?

 

If you had seen the glorious sight,

When heathen people, long in night,

Are brought from darkness into light,

Would you go back?  Would you?

 

Yet still they wait, a weary throng,

They’ve waited, some so very long,

When shall despair be turned to song,

I’m going back! Would you?

I am thinking again this morning after being blessed by the trusting faith that lived powerfully in the hearts of many Ugandans; perhaps the Lord is helping me see "who" the real heathens are.  When I saw what faith looked like in the lives of Africans who had "nothing" but God and He was completely sufficient– I knew the heathen was me!  For now,  I might be in God’s intended mission field.

May He turn our eyes to see the light of Christ and give us a new song! 

God Grew Tired of Us

Over the weekend our family rented the documentary “God Grew Tired of Us.”  It is the story of 3 of the “lost boys” of Sudan who were resettled in America.  1203281 These were boys who had survived incredible challenges and who had grown up in Kakuna refugee camp in Kenya.  The “lost boys” were children who fled Sudan by the thousands when many of them were just toddler age. Their journey was as compelling as it was disturbing.  Marching over a thousand miles in search of sanctuary when the civil war broke out in their land, about half of the 27,000 died on the journey.

The young men in this documentary–Panther, Daniel and John allowed the cameras to see the challenges of relocation.  The boys felt guilty for having food when they knew their brothers in Kenya were still starving.  they felt selfish living well when their friends were living without. These emotions prompted them to send some of their meager earnings back to friends and family in Africa.

They longed for the deep sense of interdependence and community that had sustained them for all their years in the refugee camps.  They experienced hurt and confusion when Americans allowed  busyness and their desire for independence and privacy to overrule expressions of kindness and caring.  They were enormously grateful for the opportunity to have a new life but baffled at how much “life” they lost when the bonds of deep relationships had to be severed in the move to America.

 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing near the throne and in front of the Lamb.”  Revelation 7:9

6067 (Small) It seems tragic to me that there are people in the world who feel forgotten by God, or think that they have become tiresome to Him.

How will we represent the Lord so that their vision of Him can be set right?

It is not God who has tired of these brothers and sisters in Africa–or who ignores the results of wars that continue to displace thousands— it is us.

But Zion said, ‘I don’t get it.  God has left me.  My Master has forgotten I even exist.’

‘Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore? 

But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you—never.  Look I have written your names on the backs of my hands. 

The walls you’re rebuilding are never out of my sight…You’ll know then that I am GOD.  No one who hopes in me ever regrets it.”

Isaiah 49:14-23  The Message

How’s your self-esteem?

“Too many Christians never see that self-love comes out of a culture that prizes the individual over the community and then reads that basic principle into the pages of Scripture. The Bible, however, rightly understood, asks the question, “Why are you so concerned about yourself?” Furthermore, it indicates that our culture’s proposed cure–increased self-love–is actually the disease…Need theories can thrive only in a context where the emphasis is on the individual rather than the community and where consumption is a way of life. If you ask most Asians and Africans about their psychological needs they will not even understand the question!” ((Edward Welch, When People are Big and God is Small, P & R Publishing, 81 and 87))

DSC02777 (Small) As I read this quote, I remembered the days of interviewing African women who were seeking a job as housemothers for 10 previously orphaned children. Trying to get to know them as quickly as possible I would naively say, “Why don’t you describe yourself and your hopes and dreams for me.” The women would stare at me with a confused look and say, “JjaJa, I don’t understand the question.” It was not a language difficulty–it was that they never spent a moment of their lives pondering such a self absorbed question! It never occurred to women who are daily consumed with thoughts of “How will I make it today?” to think about themselves or ponder an uncertain future. They live in a culture that prizes the good of the community and care almost none for the aspirations of the individual as we do. People with little, and certainly not familiar with a consumer culture but with a pervasive joy and contentment. Are we missing something by having so many somethings?

I remember one time going to church with Auntie Edith and asking, “Edith what is his name?” She said, “JjaJa, you mzungus care very much about names–here we greet people by saying, “Hello Ssebo” (Sir) or “How are you Nnyabo” (Madam), we don’t ask for names!” Again, she was helping me see that her world view was not individualistic –she was not living in a culture that could afford to pursue the esteem of self. As Welch has suggested, what if the cure we seek–a better self-esteem–is the disease from which we need to be delivered?