Having had some time now to step back from things and view my trip holistically, I couldn’t help but put this list together, of what I believed Children’s HopeChest was doing right in Uganda. At least for them, it isn’t just about orphan sponsorship, it’s so much more, it’s about relationship.
I’ve been back from Uganda for almost a week and I’m still thinking, processing, wondering what to say first. The trip was amazing. God stretched us and found each one of us in tears at some point or the other, sometimes at the same time. We saw extreme poverty, sickness, festering wounds, hungry faces, depleted resources, hopelessness and the opposite: a community feast, new clothes, letters sent with love, smiles, hope. Did the good outweigh the bad? Yes. Is there still so much work to be done? Yes. Almost 600 children visit the Adacar Carepoint every school day, only about 165 of these children are sponsored, this means that the sponsor dollars have to stretch, stretch, streeeetch that much more to cover the cost of feeding all these children.
Throughout the next few days, I’ll give more specifics about each day there, but I wanted to start with our last day: Sunday. Church. I begin with this because it was heavy on my heart as I got ready to go to my home church this week. I want to preempt what I am about to write with this: I LOVE my church. It’s been my lifeline for the last 3 years, but I couldn’t help but draw contrasts.
In Adacar I sat on one of only two benches in the whole church.
In Atlanta I sit in a nice, cushy stadium seat.
In Adacar we knelt on a dirt floor to pray and raise our hands to a leafy ceiling.
In Atlanta we allow our music director to pray for us.
In Adacar they started an hour late and went for 3.
In Atlanta we start on time and eye the clock for an hour and a half until we can beat the rush and get home to watch the game.
In Adacar the “choir” consisted of the whole congregation singing and two men playing a very crude version of a lap harp (strips of metal mounted on a wooden box).
In Atlanta we have an orchestra pit.
In Adacar babies cry on the floor next to their mommies.
In Atlanta the babies are safely tucked away in another wing of the building.
Even before I left for my trip, this verse from James 2:5 kept repeating itself in my head (I had to look up the reference again lest you think I’m a biblical scholar): “Didn’t God choose those who are poor in this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love him?” I saw this, in that church with brightly colored strips of material hanging from the rafters and a homemade cloth with a cross sewn into it draping the front altar. These people, despite having so little, were joyful, were grateful to God for what they did have. By the time the church service was over people were spilling out from the entrances, surrounding the small dirt structure and they were all singing, all dancing, grateful for the fellowship and the ability to worship their Creator.
Can we say the same here?
I’ve been reading Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love this week–I know I’m about 3 years behind on the evangelical Christian required reading list, but bear with me here. Truthfully, it’s one of the most difficult books I’ve read in a long time, not because are a lot of three-syllable words (there aren’t) and not because it introduces a lot of difficult theological points (it doesn’t). It’s hard to read because it is challenging me. It’s pulling me up and out by the collar so I can’t sleep at night. I can’t sleep at night because many of the attributes of the lukewarm church I see in myself. I am ashamed, because there is nothing safe about God’s love for us. He loves us with reckless abandon, and that’s how he wants us to love Him, love others. He heals the broken hearted, he binds up their wounds, He lifts the needy out of the ash heap, He weeps and here I am sitting, waiting to pull God out of my box for a small portion of time every day, instead of taking Him out and putting Him on like a second skin.