Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"There is not enough room here...."

           “There is not enough room here…”

I look into his eyes. What have they seen?
I look down at his hands. What was he made to 
do? I look at the scars, and I wonder what stories
they could tell.
The things he was forced to do and experience at 
the hands of the LRA are unspeakable to anyone 
other than a chosen few. To repeat it to any average 
person would almost be traumatizing – but these 
children experienced it. They have lived through it. 
And so many have already forgiven the very ones 
who forced them to kill their own families.
“Here are two handkerchiefs. Both representing tear 
catchers. Both reminding us that our tears are collected 
in the bottle of our Creator. Our happy tears of hopes and 
dreams as well as our sad tears of pain. They are both 
equally important to Him.” 
I was inviting him to draw memories of his pain on one 
handkerchief and to draw his dreams on the other. He 
stared at them blankly, then looked up at me as his words 
came slowly, “There is not enough room here for me to 
draw all of my pain.”

This young man… this wise teacher is now mentoring, 

loving, and teaching the very children he once abducted. 
Love pours out of him and his very life sings like a poem
 – speaking with the wisdom of Solomon and the rhyme 
of David.  I watch as he sits in extended moments of 
silence thanking his Savior for small morsels of food.  
I watch as he outwardly praises his Redeemer for the 
tiny gifts he is given to feed the many orphaned 
children in his home. The children he, by himself, 
has taken in to care for.
Once a commander in Joseph Kony’s LRA army – 
now a tender giver of the Grace that has been gifted 
to him. He was saved for a reason. Perhaps, and in 
part, as a testimony to power of Redemption. He is 
a Peacemaker.
“I will sacrifice myself. I will sacrifice myself to take care 
of her…” he says. I look in near disbelief of the extent to 
which he believes in and lives out sacrificial love. I watch 
as he lightly beats his chest over his heart, and he says it 
again with diligence, “I will sacrifice myself.”
These words are spoken about a woman who was 
tortured by the LRA so severely that she travels in and 
out of mental instability. This day we had found her 
lying in the dirt outside of her home. She was catatonic.
“What kind of brutality did she live through to put her in
this state?” I wonder. But I don’t want to know. Not 
today. So many stories of torture this week… I’m not 
sure I can hear any more details and still be able sleep.  
I do know this: The LRA attempted to gorge out her 
left eye. It is now shaded over with grey and blue and 
blindness.  Her children have raised themselves and are 
ostracized by the community because their mother is 
known as “the crazy women” in the village.  Thankfully, 
four of her children are now sponsored- they have food, 
educationand a safe place to live. The youngest girl was 
born a few days after her mother, hemorrhaging, returned 
from the bush. She is a miracle child… and her smile is 
breathtaking! The mother’s name is Grace, and I believe 
with all of my heart that she will be healed of her pain.  
She will walk and be freed from this residue of brutality. 
I believe that.
There are some things in life that you are not supposed to 
survive, but you do.
There are some stories that could not be real,but they are.
Like stories of Forgiveness that are not human. Stories of 
Redemption that are not often seen on this side of heaven. 
But they are seen. They are not only seen, but they are lived. 
Out loud. By children.
These are real lives and stories. Stories that belong to 
children. Lived by children. Told by children. And they 
will not stop with children – that is, they will not fail to 
be heard. I will not let them.
“Yes. I sat with Kony. He has a witchdoctor who tells him
 what to do. Then he will go and tell the commanders the 
number of people who need to be killed. ‘We need 42 ears,’ 
or we need this many parts of the body. Then we were 
forced to go and collect them. It didn’t matter if the people 
were dead or alive. If we did not bring back the right 
number, we were punished severely and others were 
killed. But we were just children.”
Sitting with these children. Crying with them. Praying with 
I feel like I am in the presence of giants. Royalty.
To hear what they have experienced…. to listen to their
 hearts for peace and forgiveness… to hold their hands 
and know what those hands were forced to do. It is 
beyond words.
But there are words. Their stories must be told. Not just 
their stories of survival. But their stories of life. There 
must be a platform for those voices to be heard… an 
avenue for their stories to be told.
I believe these children can and will change the world 
with their stories of forgiveness and dreams for peace. 
To not only survive the torture of rebels, but to be a 
testimony of peace from their stories of war. I believe 
that the forgiveness, love for peace and redemption 
they breathe out by their lives is the testimony that 
outweighs any evil they have experienced.
I believe Kony will be stopped and that his victims – 
these survivors – will sing of being saved.
I believe that the children the world almost breaks 
will grow up to save it.
And I will not stop believing.  
Thank you for your support in helping us help 
these children.
His, b.

Grace was taken to a hospital last week because 
she was, again, in a catatonic state and was not 
eating. Her care will be approximately $700. 
You can donate directly for her care here.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Pray With Us

The monks are singing in the background. Songs of praise to God. A young boy comes up to me and puts his hand on my leg as if we are best friends. He’s around 4. Thunder claps ring as background music to the harmony of praise, and I glance at the chapel beneath me. Knowing I will be there later on my knees in prayer. The singing gets louder.

I stare off at the sun that is slowly setting. Saying goodbye to this day and hello to what is to come…… what is to come.  Thinking of the email I received earlier today.

“There is a tentative attack on Goma this Saturday or Sunday…” It is Friday night. What will tomorrow bring?

We are on the Rwandan side of the border and for two days our friends have been trying to negotiate visa entries. Funny how, in a matter of seconds, frustrations of being unable to get a Congo visa quickly turn into prayers for safety for all who are already there. Feelings of anticipation with a tinge of frustration melt into anger at this situation and a protective wing appears. A wing that hopes to surround these children and those we love. Praying that the rebels' hearts would be softened tonight as they sleep. That God would somehow come to them in their dreams and speak kindness.

They are…. right there. Right down that road. Beneath the large shadow of that volcano.  The rebels. The children. Our friends.

I know they are in hands stronger than I can even imagine. In the shadow of wings that are larger than life. But there is fear. I have come to understand the beauty of suffering. A dependence on God and a perspective on the marrow of True Life that only pain can bring.

But times like these – I do not see beauty. I see loved ones who are fearing for their safety, and I feel a righteous anger that screams to my heart:

“This must end”

Pray with us. Believing and standing in faith in the shadow of a God who is trustworthy and a sovereign Lord. 

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness - a light has dawned" Isaiah 9:2 

I am

His, b

ps: For our own loved ones (and concerned mommas) – we are very safe. In a hotel in Rwanda. All is well. No worries…..Much love.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Beautiful Scars

What does a breaking heart sound like? And what does it actually feel like for a tear to be shed? And if Jesus is closest to us when we are in the center of our deepest pain, then why doesn't He save us from it? If He is right there? Because He is. Right there. Right beside of us. 

"I am going to tell you the most important part of your handkerchief drawing now. The most important part is drawing God in the middle of your heartache. Drawing Him beside of you when you were crying your sad tears. Even if you didn't feel Him - He was there" 

I look into their eyes and I wonder what they have seen. I watch the markers in their hands, and I know if their hands could tell stories they would be of bloodshed. 

If their scars could speak they would scream.

But they don't scream at all. They stand. Boldly. As if to say.... I am here. As much a part of my world as your comfort is to yours. I see these young men now, and I can't fathom it. What they have been through. but I must. I must do more than fathon it. I must know it to be true. 

Before my eyes, I see dancing and rejoicing. Before my eyes, I see life and redemption. They beat their drums and they clap their hands. Watching boys who were once child soldiers praying fervently and washing softly the feet of their brothers who have recently escaped the militia. This ceremony of peace is beautiful. And they don't even know each other.  Asking their names before they wash each others feet. Each one. But they don't have to know each other. They are already brothers. The bond of Life that is connecting them now is much stronger than the Killing they have done. The Peace surrounding them today is bigger than the War they have lived through.

I see them wash each others feet. I can feel their prayers for each other. I hear the songs of reconciliation. I touch the new found love of God and dreams to be future peacemakers - and I am in awe of them. If the world could watch this.....What could we learn?

My mind goes back to our time with the girls. 

"When God looks at you He does not see what you have done. He does not see what has been done to you. He only sees what you can be. What you will be. He sees you as beautiful" 

I watch her as I say these words outloud. She is 13. She was abducted when she was around 11. She was raped by militia soldiers. She became pregnant and months later she escaped with her baby.  The baby she now holds as I watch her lift her shirt to breast feed. But she has no milk. It has dried up long ago. She doesn't offer herself to the child for food. She offers herself to her baby for comfort. It's the only way she knows to sooth the baby from crying because no one has taught her otherwise. 

She escaped with her baby at the age of 12, and she walked for two days trying to find her home. She never found it. She was picked up in Goma and taken to the center. Where she still lives. With her baby. Her only family now. I catch her eye, and she smiles at me. A million dollar beaming smile. She looks down at her baby and the love on her face is the love of Jesus. A mother of 13 in love with her baby girl. 

And my heart breaks. Silently. And my spirit swells. Loudly. Because I am witnessing a miracle. I am witnessing pure love. 

I often stand before these children.... these young men and young women feeling like a tiny child who needs to be taught rather than to teach. One who needs to be mended rather than to mend. 

How does one find sense in it all? By this: Realizing there is good and evil. Light and darkness. Suffering as small as pebbles or as large as erupting volcanos. 

But the Richness comes in the Reflection of Pain 

"....suffering arises from the simple circumstance of life itself. Sometimes human suffering is dramatic and horrifying. More often it is ordinary, humble, and quiet. But neither way is it "God's Will". The Divine doesn't intend for us to suffer, but is instead with us in all the experiences of life - in both Suffering and Joy. And that presence is always inviting us toward greater Freedom and Love." ~ Gerald May "The Dark Night of the Soul 

Throughout this journey into the dark places of the world, I have realized that by not saving us from pain.... Jesus is actually extending the greatest kindness. It is by not rescuing us that He is actually saying:

"I honor you. I want you to grow and live in Fullness more than I want you to be comfortable.  I want more for you because I love you too much to let you live in weakness. I believe in you too much to give up on you."

And wether the pain is the loss of a loved one or the loss of innocence - it is all a reminder of how imperfect our world is and how perfect is His love. How sweet is His grace. How soft His voice as He wispers to all of us "I do not see what you have done. I do not see what has been done to you. I only see what you can be. What you will be. I only see you as beautiful" 

If we gain strength from our scars then these children will hold the world on their shoulders. And I will be at their feet. 

They will change this nation and they can change this world.... if we would begin to see them. Hear them. Learn from them. Believe in them. 



Thank you. For allowing us to see light in the middle of darkness. For helping us to see hear how beautiful heartbreak can be. To understand that the shedding of tears results in new life and new beginnings. Shed me, Father. Shed my old so that I can live in newness. And bless these children. Bless them. Lord. Put within their hearts a stirring for peace. A peace that passes the understanding of the world they live in. I passionately desire for them to show the world how you can turn mourning into dancing. Let the world see them dance. More importantly...... let the world learn how to dance from them. Fervently. In Freedom and Joy.

Dancing - I am 

Yours, b