Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Quick Story

During my time here in Kampala I have had great days and not so great days. The not so great days are the ones where I am physically, spiritually, and emotionally exhausted. This past week I had one of those days/nights. The week had been packed with different programs and it seemed like I was constantly going. The ministry was great, don’t get me wrong, but at the end of each day as I sat alone in my room I felt drained. One particular night as I headed down the hill from where Ariel stays to my place I stopped and talked with my good friend and night guard Bosco. This is a typical thing we do every night just to see how each other’s day has gone. On most occasions I ask him how his day was and he will respond “Very good!” with a smile on his face. However, on this night he looked down and said “fair.” I asked him what was wrong and he informed me that someone had stolen a lot of money from him. I was shocked and asked him how it happened and how much they took. He told me that his wife Eveline had gone to buy charcoal and had given the lady who was selling it 20,000 shillings ($10) and expected money in return. The lady instead took the money and never came back. This devastated Bosco and his wife because this left them with no money to spend. After hearing this I shook my head and told him how sorry I was for what happened and that I would be praying for him. As I turned and walked into my room I immediately began to cry and felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. Ten dollars was “a lot” of money for my friend and losing it left a normally cheerful guy, very sad. Ten dollars, which I consider nothing and spend on useless stuff everyday of my life was his source of living that week.

We often hear of how people in third world countries live on less than $2-4 a day yet it never really impacts us. Even I who have been in Uganda for over a month and have seen indescribable poverty never truly grasped living on so little. So as I sat in my room crying wondering how I, a poor college student, could help a friend in need God spoke to me. I was to show Bosco love and simply give him what I had on me, which just so happened to be 20,000 shillings. As I gathered the money I remembered something else. Each night when Bosco comes to watch futbol games in my room he takes of his work boots and to my surprise is never wearing socks. So I grabbed a pair of my socks and the money and headed to his security booth. As I walked up, Bosco came out and I handed him the money and socks. I told him that it wasn’t much but that I loved him and that I knew God put him in my life for a reason. I explained that I had nothing but that if he continued to rely on God he would be taken care of. After a minute of my rambling, Bosco looked at me with tears in his eyes and said “Praise God!” He explained that that morning he prayed to God asking for help because he had no idea how he was going to feed his wife or himself for the next four days. He continued to say how the money would provide for him and how grateful he was for the socks. I asked him why he never wore socks with his boots and his reply was that he had never owned a pair. He looked at the pair of socks I gave him as if they were some treasure. He kept rubbing them and telling me how nice they were. As each word came out of Bosco’s mouth I was saddened more and more. Not only was ten dollars his lively hood for the week but he had never had a pair of socks. I was blown away and at the same time my eyes were opened to the basic needs around me. When he was done thanking me, I told him that I was happy to help in any way I could and that I was thankful for his friendship.

This time as I walked into my room I felt defeated. Bosco’s story is just one of many here in Uganda of those living in poverty so how I am supposed to help? Though I am certainly blessed beyond measure back at home, how am I supposed to provide spiritually and physically for all those in need? These thoughts began to consume me and left me in a depressed state. For hours thoughts like, “I am only a college student not a millionaire” and “I am just newly walking for Christ and not an ordained preacher” continually ran through my mind. To put it simply I felt inadequate. That’s when I remembered something a friend of mine recently told me. “Remember that we are all inadequate, but by the grace of God, and as we are encompassed by the Holy Spirit, we are adequate only because He is the measure by which “adequate” is coined. God= Adequacy.” Talk about a wake up call! I was right, I am in adequate but with God’s help and grace I can do anything through Him. I am only to “trust and obey” as the old hymn states. God knows the situations of His children in Uganda and I am only here to do what He asks of me. I am not here to save the world, but to show love and compassion to all those around me. I am to radiate God and shine for Him in all that I do. God will provide for Bosco and the rest of the people here whether it’s through me or not. I am only to be His vessel and to be used in any way He needs. If that calls in me giving out more money or simply praying for someone, I will do that. God is in control and hears the cries of His children. I take comfort in that because I know whom my Comforter is. He is greater than any person or any act of generosity, He is my Savior.

However, I do pray that Bosco's small story brings us all to our knees in prayer. Not only for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world in poverty and suffering but for those in our own communities. Often times we use the excuse "I am not called to international missions" to exempt us from serving overseas and being obedient to God's will for our lives. We also use the phrase "God has called me to serve right here in America" as a way to free ourselves of any guilt in not going yet we rarely "serve" at our current location. "Missions" is not something we do only overseas or in a certain time frame but should be our lives. Being a Christian is being a follower of Christ, is being His disciple, is being like Him, and sharing His grace, love and power to all those we come in contact with. This is our EVERYDAY MISSION. We all need to stop compartmentalizing God and start allowing Him to cover every surface of our lives. This day and the rest of your days on this earth whether in America or in another country is a mission. It is your mission to tell others of Christ and to show His love. It is time we get of the church pews and into the world, for we are ALL called to missions. If we are truly saved by Christ and He lives within us, we should have a burning desire to let everyone know. If we spent half the time sharing the gospel as we did make excusing why we personally are not called, the world would be evangelized. My prayer is that we stop searching for God's will for our lives and start living for Him today. Each day as we take that step of faith, He will guide us. I pray that if you are called to serve internationally that you stop making excuses and go and if you are called to serve in your community than you start serving and stop using that as a crutch. For the world around us is suffering both physically and spiritually and it is our duty to set out with a sense of urgency to share the grace and love of our Abba Father.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

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