I have spent this week attending a UN/government seminar on child protection (not my normal pass time but necessary to build the right relationships and support our key leader Cathy here in Juba, and apparently I got myself certified to give the workshop inadvertently- kind of humorous).
The rest of my week was spent filled with great joy visiting some of my often drunk and occasionally a tad violent friends in the markets of konya konya in juba, picking my way through burning trash mounds, traversing sewage streams, finding treasures at the gates of hell and believing for massive miracles this year so we can bring them all home.
Earlier this year at our Global Leadership meetings in Mozambique, I had a profound encounter where the 3 million faces of children orphaned and abandoned in this nation* flashed before my eyes for 12 hours, each one becoming etched in my heart forever. I am finding them one by one. Jesus is calling us to step out farther than ever before in the realm of radical faith and trust Him for miraculous provision in degrees that boggle my brain and stretch me so far I can’t even see my comfort zones.
We have long walked the edge, but apparently it is time to step off and learn to fly! I will share more on that in the soon coming days. Suffice it to say we need to build a lot more space in at least 2 locations rapidly this year and I have not a clue how that will happen in the natural.
Yesterday I had a vision of one of our new little ones I just met dying, contorted on a green woven mat in the mud covered in her own filth. I saw myself and one of our senior sudanese leaders walking in and commanding life. I was disturbed by it to say the least all day long and into last night. You know that knot that won’t go away in the pit of your gut feeling. Uh-huh. Yep. That one.
This morning we went visiting in the market again. We walked right by what has been dubbed the gates of hell, carefully walking through the mountains of decaying debris, my friends there helping me not fall into the sewage lakes on either side of the very unsteady decaying paths. We eventually ended up in a muddy corner on the backside of the burning rubbish pits only to find my 18 month old newly discovered princess, who is not more than 20 lbs, lying on green mat with a raging fever, limbs and body contorted in a classic meningitis pose , covered in her own filth, barely breathing, totally unresponsive, literally dying before my eyes.
A strange sense of I have seen this before hit me as I walked out my vision in real life. Amidst warnings of serious contagion, I walked in with indignation boiling in my spirit at the devourer. NOT again. Not this one. I am so done with burying any more of my children. One of our senior pastoral leaders and I scooped her up, commanded life, rebuked death and watched Jesus supernaturally heal and restore to life before my eyes in a matter of hours. We spent the day taking her to the doctor (by the time she got there she was 90% better) only to find hmmmmm, nothing serious was wrong. Go figure THAT one! Come on Jesus!
News flash: It is payback time! Resurrection is dancing over thresholds of death commanding life. God’s supernatural love is stronger than the grave!
My new little miracle baby and her sister of 5 years (with me in the pic above taken when I met them 4 days ago) and another treasure of 8 years old are all tucked in here on the beds beside me sleeping safely maybe for the first time in their short little lives. We will take them home to Yei tomorrow, along with 15 of the street girls in our partner center here who are coming for a holiday camp for 2 weeks so our center leaders here can take a much needed break.
I marvel at the LOVE of Jesus and long to bring every hurting, endangered one home. So these three are more Christmas presents from heaven this year for me. Thank You Papa for YOUR love that leaves the 99 and finds the one dying on a green mat, on the backside of a burning mountain of trash and brings her back to life before our eyes.
Your love is as strong as death- its jealousy as unyielding as the grave. Selah.
(*Current stats place the total number of children orphaned in all of Sudan around 1.7 million or at 10% of the populous of children. However anecdotal and commonly quoted statistics for orphaned children (probably a mixture of full and partial orphans, ie loss of one parent) have placed the numbers for the whole of Sudan as high as 3 million.
In some communities, children are assimilated into extended family structures and beautifully cared for by aunties and uncles. But in our experience, in the places we have been working often this is easily distorted and many children do not receive the same care, food, education or love that the biological children of the family do. In many cases even, the children can be treated as domestic servants in the home and are extremely vulnerable to trafficking and abuse.
We love the cultural structures for adoption when they work, but are here with a growing family because in so many cases they don’t. May Jesus raise up a radiant Sudanese Bride who lives out the fullness of His culture of adoption and become a shining light to the rest of this continent of His life and heart.)