Scars of War

In my last post I mentioned our guards. I have to take a few minutes to expound a little more on them. As we are taking time getting to know them and encouraging them in the Lord, we have noticed a troubling theme…. the scars of war.

America was awakened to the troubles in Northen Uganda just a few years ago when the Youtube videos of Joseph Kony swept the news. America was appalled by the fact that he was stealing children and taking them captive as his army. But we are learning that this region was war ridden long before Kony. In fact, before Kony, his Aunt was up to the same stuff.

Matheas is our day guard. He has really become more like a part of the family. He is from Congo. He lost his father at a very young age due to war and his mother moved them across the country to escape. She then left him to care for and raise his younger siblings as she moved to Uganda in search for work. At 12, he was working two jobs to pay his way through school and care for his siblings. Also at the age of 12, Matheas was abducted by Joseph Kony’s army. He remained with them for 9 days. He was a good worker and would do whatever they asked. Even if he didn’t know how to do the job, he would say that he did and try his best. He had seen what happened to the other boys who did not do as they were told. On the third day of their kidnapping, they were already learning to shoot semiautomatic guns. They were hidden deep in the forest of Congo, but Kony’s army had arranged for some women from the village to come and cook for them. One of these women, knew Matheas. She lied and said that she had forgotten some spices needed for the meal and that she needed to send him to town to fetch them or the meal would be delayed. She assured them that Matheas would not betray them. But as she gave Matheas instructions, this woman told him to go and never come back.

I wish I could say that this was the only time that Matheas had a run in with the rebels, but it wasn’t.  By God’s grace, though he was released each time.  As he shared these stories with us, I was blown away. I began to share verses like Ephesians 2:10 and Jeremiah 29:11 with him. The Lord allowed him to be spared from these things for a purpose. There is no doubt about it. I think that our conversation was the first time he realized it. Up until that point, they were just difficult things in his life. But as we looked back at God’s hand of protection, I watched his faith grow.

Then there’s Ben and James.  Ben, one of our night guards, is Ugandan. He is from the Iteso Tribe. This tribe is mostly based in the norther part of the country. Ben and his wife moved to Jinja during a season of war. Over dinner one night he began to share his testimony with us. He was running from rebels who were coming into his village. He and his wife split ways to meet at a predesignated spot. As he ran through a field, the shots rang out. He watched his friends and neighbors shot down all around him. Before long he found himself face to face with a rebel gun. He reached out and overpowered the gunman, holding the gun straight in the air. Taken aback, the rebel continued to struggle with Ben. Moments later another rebel appeared and ordered Ben to walk away. He began to take a few steps, but realized that he was only going to be shot in the back. So he turned around in defiance and refused to leave. His audacious boldness must have taken them off guard, because they stood their for a moment speechless. Once they realized they could do nothing else with him, they fired a shot to which he was able to dodge. It grazed his chest enough to knock him down and cause him to bleed, but did not puncture him. Realizing this, Ben laid still as the rebels stood over him. Poking him and laughing. One even whistled a hymn as he walked away. Ben thanked God and prayed they would not return his way. Once things were clear he got up and ran to a family members house, where his wife was staying. There, providentially, the Lord brought a Christian. This man also carried some medicine. As he cleaned Ben’s wounds, he shared the gospel. The man spoke of the deliverance of Ben was for a purpose and Ben’s entire family was saved that day.  The Lord has used his testimony to lead many to know the Lord.

James is Rwandan. Remember the movie “Hotel Rwanda?” That was one of the most difficult movies for me to get through. Well that was James’ life. He is a Tutsi, the minority tribe that was being wiped out through genocide.  Although the Tutsi tribe made up only 14% of the country’s population in 1994, they were blamed for troubles within the country. In just a few short weeks, 800,000 Tutsi men, women and children were murdered. That’s 3/4 of the Tutsi population!

My heart can’t begin to imagine what these men have been through. But the Lord is good. The Lord is faithful.

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagles! The Lord gives righteousness and justice who all who are treated unfairly.  Psalm 103:1-6

All three of these men love the Lord. They seek to serve Him and grow in the knowledge of the Lord. What could have broken these men, the Lord has used to grow them stronger in faith. It is such a testimony to me. If our internet is down for a day, or the electricity goes out, I start gripping.  Lord, let me never forget the good things you have done. He has a plan to use all things for His Glory and to make us more like His Son Jesus. What difficult thing are you facing today? Will you complain and shake your fist at God or trust seek Him through it?

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