Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Will you please sign my name?


Brad was honored to be invited to a community civic meeting...
Helping to educate the poor before elections, informing them of their rights, and hearing their voices...

He sat in the back.

The community made space for him - "Welcome, Baba Sam".

You are one of us.

He happened to sit next to a mama we know. 

The meeting was deep... 
the poor voiced their hurt...
their lack of representation...  
their longing for justice...


But the moment that stood out...

Was when the register was passed around.

With a humble look, a Mama passed Brad the pen.

"Will you please write my name here?"

Illiteracy
 - it showers shame
- it limits employment
- it dooms a mama to poverty
- and most often, it spells the future of her children as well...

My heart aches for this Mama - and so many others who don't know how to write their own name.

God knows your name, dear mama... 
He knew you even before you were born!
And He loves you dearly!




Monday, May 15, 2017

If only I had a million dollars...


If only I had a million dollars...

Those words actually came out of my mouth yesterday.  I'm not even sure I've ever thought those words before!  

... But the overwhelming grip of need overtook me 
as I walked back away from a visit.

Earlier, I had been chatting with a group of mamas, helping to wash chairs - a Saturday rainy season job - so that when people come to church on Sunday, they will have a clean place to sit.  

A mom and her friend walked past us, then stood in front of the church.  The somber mood immediately drew my attention to them.  I noticed the bundled package of 2 month Abrahim was the focus.


I left my "chair washing task" and joined the ladies.  Abrahim was sleeping.  He'd been sleeping since noon the day before  - which was the last time he had eaten.  30 hours!?!?  He was limp as we raised his arms.  Unresponsive.

I was already picturing a late night hospital visit ... or worse yet, another infant's death in our community (there were 2 that I know of only last month).

Together we entered the church.  We must get this boy to breastfeed!   As a group of mamas, we gathered, coaxed and prodded.  After awhile, Abrahim awoke and ate a little.  We cheered. 


We sat together.  Because sometimes in moments like these, that is what we do....  It's not all about words - it's about being... being together.

After I stepped outside, I was told - this mama herself has not eaten in 2 days.  She and her 4 children (including Abrahim) have been in a desperate place for some time.  The local church has been reaching out to them.  They have been responding to that love! 

But when there is no food, then mama doesn't have much breast-milk... depression sets in... and babies get sick... and the desperate cycle spirals down and down all too fast...

Mama Abrahim in front of her home

So... this is when I wished for a million dollars.  Because this is not the only hungry family that we know!  Actually, there are quite a few precious kids out of school too - they lack school fees!  And a church that needs some repairs.  A victim who needs rent money...  The list is absolutely overwhelming to us - every day!  We could probably blow through a million dollars pretty quickly!  Maybe I should be wishing for 2 million!

I've continued to ponder these painful stories.  And my response.  

You see, as I left Mama Abrahim, I had not given her food.  But I sat and prayed with her.  I encouraged her that God loves her deeply.  I actually wept on that visit. I long for her to find HOPE and GRACE even in her time of need.

(We did send the church some money to make sure the family would eat that night!)

But my brain is joggled.

Could money REALLY solve these problems?  If we bring food and pay school fees yet don't bring HOPE in Jesus, what have we really done?  

My heart aches as I pray.  As I look into a mama's hungry eyes - who I know ache more for her children's hunger than her own...  As the words come out of my mouth that Jesus knows and cares about her pain.  That He loves her deeply.  That He wants her to long for Him as much as she longs for food and safety.  

I wonder... is that even possible?

Honestly?  If my children were hungry would I be able to turn my heart and longings toward GOD?  To find His peace and joy in the midst of my situation?

Our prayer is that as we walk with the local church that walks with this mama,  we will see her find His PEACE and JOY  and HOPE.  She has been invited into our women's Bible Study group - which will also bring her the opportunity to learn beadwork and many other practical skills.  

But, God please protect us always from the temptation of solving earthly desperation with earthly solutions (a million dollars would be great!)... without addressing the enormous eternal desperation with God's GRACE and HOPE which are the truest, deepest answers!

Abrahim's big brother




Today, my prayer for myself is this:
That I learn to DESPERATELY long for Him.
That I recognize Him as more important than anything else in my life.
That I see HIM as a more valuable gift to others than a million dollars would be!

Psalm 63:1-8The Message 

God—you’re my God!

I can’t get enough of you!

I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, 

traveling across dry and weary deserts.

So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,

drinking in your strength and glory.

In your generous love I am really living at last!

My lips brim praises like fountains.

I bless you every time I take a breath;

My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

Because you’ve always stood up for me,

I’m free to run and play.

I hold on to you for dear life,

and you hold me steady as a post.