>It is March now and the rains have begun right on cue. Our dry season is coming to an end. Everything in me hopes and prays that is telling for more than just the seasons changing in the natural. In many ways it feels like a season of new beginnings. It isn’t exactly new like the Springtime I am accustomed to. But it is a time when the dust of the old is washed away by rain from heaven.
I am delighted that Onzia (age 3) who used to scream and not allow anyone to touch her is almost my constant companion out and about on the compound. She usually falls asleep at night in my lap during worship. Love can be so simple. She reminds me of that. Patrick is back with us but in a very limited capacity. It turned out that he broke his first vertebrae by his skull so even talking is painful for him. We are praying like a house on fire for his complete healing. Many things are slowed down until he recovers. I am also looking into medical options in South Africa. (Any of our S African friends with ideas please let me know) I haven’t told him yet but I feel led to check it out. We are not seemingly getting anywhere just praying through things. But we are standing and trusting God is doing what we cannot see.
It has been a week of drinking the cup of joy and the cup of suffering with Jesus. It all boils down for me to He is God and I am not. It is the place where I embrace Him beyond what I understand. Mystery is the context of missions- unless I can embrace Him in His mystery I will not fully see His majesty revealed.
Thursday on my way to pray for our driver’s daughter who was dying in the hospital, our Congolese friends came and got me. One of their church family had been beaten to death by the man she had just married. I walked into the morgue with them and her body lay cold on the cement table. You could smell death in the air. I placed my hand on her head and prayed and prayed for her life to come back. She didn’t. So we offered the use of our truck to take her body to the burial place about 2 miles away. If they were going to hire a vehicle that 2 miles would cost 80 USD.
I then went to the hospital ward where I was headed to pray for our driver’s daughter. She lay dying in a coma. The stench of rotting flesh and the flies were so severe, I felt nauseous. I went and picked up her head and spoke life into her. I prayed for her. I looked deeply into her blank stare. I quoted Scripture. I held her and sang. God is God and I am Michele. I had a chance to lead her to Jesus several months before. She had scraped her leg on a nail and the infection that ensued took 10 months but eventually ravished her body to the point of no return. I was confident she would be healed. We are feeding her 2 month old baby. No baby should grow up with out a mama because of a rusty nail. The incident has torn the family to pieces, each side blaming the other, but no one taking care of her.
I woke up in the night seeing her standing with Jesus and I knew she had gone home. And she was very happy there. The sorrow was ours but for her, suffering had given way to joy!
What is this cup of suffering? Is it sickness and pain and death? I don’t believe so. Jesus healed the sick, bound up the broken hearted and interrupted every funeral He attended, including his own! He taught us to pray on earth as it is in heaven. I believe this cup of suffering is paying the price to have eyes to see.
I was invited to preach at my Sudanese sister’s funeral. There were about 200 of her friends and family… and me. The little white girl. I still had not give up hope. Not until the last nail was in her casket. I went and laid hands on her body and again prayed. Her mother was there in dirt and ashes (literally) half clothed wailing like a mad woman. It was deeply dark. There was a lot of witchcraft going on. I was so proud of our mamas who came with me. They started to worship and sing and soon the whole crowd was worshiping. The wailing stopped. I preached about the Love of God that is as unyielding as the grave and gave a simple call to follow Jesus.
They all looked at me like I was insane. No one as much as moved their little finger in response. Then the local leaders of the Episcopal denominational church got up and stood on the burial mound after the body was buried condemning the girl and the family- saying if they were good people and went to the ECS church this would not have happened. They cursed them and told the whole community they were never allowed to pray in church again. I was beyond livid. I was so mad I couldn’t see straight. I was shocked. HOW could they do something like that? Obviously they have never seen the face of Love, the eyes of Jesus who weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.
The girl’s father, Peter, who is our driver, took our Iris family home. I had more Arabic that I thought. They were amused at how indignant I was and how well I could express it. Kinesa katiir, muhabuk ma fi. Lots of “church”, but no love. Mushkala kabir. A big problem. Rabuna ma mortar. Jesus is not happy. Kulu marharbekum fi kinesa iris, fi seli ma nina. Everyone is welcome to pray with us at our church. Ma kweis, bataal- It is so so bad. Ana ma arif- I don’t know what should be done. JESUA-KATIRTA MUHABUK- Jesus give us more love!
But one of our leaders got it. The moment is forever recorded in my mind. We were bouncing our way home in our ancient of days white land rover, Lemonade. Our first and to date, only vehicle with four wheels is held together with duct tape and runs on prayer. Tito, our compound manager, told us if he were going to start a church, he would call it “Love.” It would be all about loving Jesus and loving people. It wouldn’t matter where it met or what it looked like. We’d just do what we see Jesus doing.
I drank deeply of the cup of joy. Like the coming rains, change is coming. It blows in fits and squalls at first. It comes imperceptibly, hanging in the air until it breaks loose around you. And it is worth waiting for.
Thank you so much for standing with us in prayer and being our family, for loving us and paying the price to see with His eyes…
Love in Jesus, Michele