Sunday, December 13, 2009

Solemn Meditation

I saw this family, and I knew they were different. They didn't share in the general jovial community sense that the rest of the parents and family members had in the pediatrics ward. Granted, some families don't always; when their children are hovering precariously between death and life, they don't always take part in the community atmosphere. And yet this family's little girl was able to walk, was not lying limply from malaria, meningitis, or other savage illnesses. Her life was not hanging in the balance.

I asked around about her. "Why is she here? What's her diagnosis?"

Then it all made sense. Despite the fact that she was physically alive and her body was not being ravaged by disease, her family was mourning her death. Or at least the death of her innocence. This ten year old girl had been raped by a family member, and now her father and mother mourned in silence as they comforted and loved her. Their somber affects and gentle care for their daughter as they grieved the loss of her innocence is something I won't soon forget.

Crimes against innocence are of the vilest nature. And yet how often do I myself not respectfully mourn the loss of innocence? Because one day in ages past, innocence was slaughtered on a hill called Golgotha, and so often I carelessly mention that death without allowing its gravity to sink in. Even worse, I often scorn the death of innocence by my own crimes against it in choosing self over love.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I miss my African family

Home sweet hut

Pierre at work

Hawaa, proud of the family millet field

Innocent at clinicals

Bruno at home on the well

Berthe and me

Ruth (has one of the most beautiful smiles) and sweet Esther

Twister with the girls

Esther and ever confident Anne (one of my favorite pictures)

Little Dorcas

And spoiled baby Bezalel

Another beautiful African sunset

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ethiopia: Conditioned Response

Tchad is hot. Toward the end of my time in Tchad, I was sleeping outside on a grass mat with just a blanket over top of me because it was too hot to sleep inside my hut. During the day temperatures hung out at about 115 degrees Farenheit, and temperatures at night were probably somewhere in the 80s or low 90s. This was in Bere.

Then we went to the capital, which is further North and much hotter. I remember staying at the TEAM mission compound, and sometimes during the day it would be so hot that we would turn the ceiling fans up as fast as they would go and sprawl on the bed not daring to move for fear that we would begin to perspire (sometimes doing so despite our stillness).

When I left Tchad and made it to Ethiopia, it took me a while to adjust to the much cooler climate. I would often wear my jacket despite the incredulous looks it drew from the other Farenji. I remember one particular day being inside the house where Ansley, Priscila, Dipika and I stayed and seeing that there was a thermometer on the wall in the corner of the living room. Curiosity compelled me. I looked and in astonishment called out to Ansley, "Ansley! No wonder we're cold! It's only 85 degrees in here!!"

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I called Wendy Roberts today to talk and let her know that she has a host of people praying for her and her family. She told me that they appreciate the prayers so much. Please continue to pray for her and the whole family, that God will give them the strength to keep going as the days keep coming. I want to share some of what she said.

As I talked with her about Kaleb and how she was doing, she told me, "I just hope that this is a witness to the people here. It's really hit them hard. They think that we're somehow immune to their problems, and now I hope they can see that we're not." Just as Jesus lived among men and experienced what we experience, the Roberts family is living among the Chadians, experiencing their hardships, and relating to them. And it will be a witness, I'm sure it already has been.

Kaleb coloring with Mbai, a patient

"And I hope that Kaleb will have many stars on his crown because of it," Wendy said through her tears, "I want this to bring glory to God; that's what Kaleb would have wanted."

When I asked her how Cherise, their 2 year old, was doing, she said that Cherise didn't understand until the casket went into the ground and they started piling dirt on top. Cherise said, "Mommy, I don't like that." And Wendy replied, "I don't either, honey." Then Wendy explained again to Cherise that they wouldn't see Kaleb again until Jesus comes. Since then, Cherise keeps telling Wendy, "Mommy, Jesus is going to come soon and say, 'Kaleb, wake up!'"

That's the kind of kids Gary and Wendy have raised.

I remember having family worship with them one weekend; Kaleb liked to sing I'm in the Lord's Army and With Jesus in the Family. Both Kaleb and Cherise loved to listen to their Bible stories for worship every night.

Once again, Satan's scheme has backfired and pulled the ground out from under him. In the times of the early apostolic church, Satan persecuted believers mercilessly. His intent, I'm sure, was to stomp out the blaze that Jesus had started; instead, Satan unwittingly spread it like wildfire. Likewise, I'm sure that in attacking God's missionaries, Gary and Wendy, his intentions were cruel- to knock the air out of their chests and send them reeling out of the mission field. But as Gary and Wendy have turned Kaleb's death into a testimony against Satan's depravity and continue to work and testify for God, I'm afraid Satan's small victory has been transformed into yet another defeat.

My prayer is that I may learn to live my life as a testimony like Gary and Wendy's lives, and that by my every action, Satan's plans may backfire. And it will be my prayer until Jesus comes again and wakes up all the ones we've loved and lost.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

For Kaleb

I just got an email from Dr. James in Bere. As soon as I began to read, I knew it in my gut: he was gone, they couldn't save him.

It's one of those things that seems so unreal, like a bad dream that you just know you're going to wake up from at any moment. But you don't.

It's funny how we offer words of solace for those who have lost someone dear, but when it's your turn to receive those words, they only sound hollow and are unable to touch the aching in your heart.

But as I sit and question, "God, why Kaleb?" I do so knowing deep down that God knows best. I do so knowing that while words can never cure the heartache, He can. And so I pray to the God of all comfort to ease the pain until He can wipe the tears from our eyes.

Please pray for the Roberts family-- Gary, Wendy, and their 2 year old, Cherise. I can't even begin to imagine how much they're hurting right now.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'"

Come quickly, Jesus.