I am writing this post as part of the Summit9 Blogger Giveaway. Check out all the details at: www.summit9.org
Well, you may be surprised to see a new post here. Maybe you thought I found my way back to Africa and forgot to land in an internet friendly village. Maybe you thought I was drawn like hemostats to the magnet of an MRI machine (the nurse in me surfaces) back to Luzira Prison to visit dark skinned men on death row in white uniforms labeled “condemned” singing hymns and praising God with passion uncommon to my eyes in a manner that revealed boldly their true label, “redeemed” (what a sweet memory). Maybe you thought I disappeared into a windowless schoolhouse surrounded by smiling faces and sweet giggles despite unimaginable events that had marked them, those orphaned due to parental imprisonment, hidden in a fruitful land marked by a sign reading “Wells of Hope Academy: Love lives here.” In my mind, I’ve been there daily although my feet left East African soil yet again months ago. In body: Nope. I’ve just been busy. Busy with some things that are worthy. Busy with some that aren’t. All the while trying to stay caught up in the One who gives me the fire in my bones that makes life full.
Side note: busy life isn’t full life. Full life is found in Christ when we chase passionately the things that He cares about…or should I say, the ones who He cares about. As I’ve recently let this truth sink in (again) and cut back from my life some fruitless and full-less things, like my “full”-time but not “full”filling or life-to-the-“full” giving (for me and in this season) job. Thank God for scripture that reminds us of truths and brings us gently but with a force like no other back to His dreams for our life.
In chasing the One who makes life full, adventures worthy, and fruit of efforts eternal, I have asked Him for more. More of Him. More of His heart. More of His concerns. More of His mission. More of His mindset. More of His love. In asking for more of Him, I’ve grown in my love for the orphan, the prisoner, the sick, the widow, the “least of these,” the one the world tells us to think less of because thinking more of them requires me to think less of… me.
The process: Asking God for more of Him followed by receiving an increased drive and passion for populations many would warn me, and warn you, against. Hmmm… something tells me that God cares for the one the world may dismiss and ignore as though he or she is a piece of trash not even worthy of recycling.
I am thankful that God cares for the orphan and am honored that He lets me chase Him in this very concern. You know, He loves us so much that He allows us the privilege to serve Christ Himself. I can’t, truly cannot in any way, imagine a full life apart from Him. I can’t be in Him fully without letting the “least of these” be in my heart fully.
When I find myself looking into the eyes of an orphan, I can’t help but see Christ. He is there. He. Is. There. He’s there, daughters and sons. It’s amazing that God guides us to love who the world would look at as the “least of these” and then we do it, and we get to gaze into His very eyes.
Gazing into the eyes of Christ has taken on many forms for me and for the Partners in Hope USA team as of late. As you may or may not know, we gained 501c3 status in December. We’ve grown the school on ground in Uganda. The windowless schoolhouse I recalled earlier in this entry now has windows…God’s done that. The children at the school find themselves excitedly sitting in desks rather than on rocks stacked atop rocks as they were before. When I was there, at “dark-time” the day was done and they would dream of when the sun would rise and they could carry on in their studies and other childhood activities. Many of them have a drive and desire in them to study unlike any I’ve seen…as if they are studying for the sake of the Kingdom. Now, they will be able to study math, music, english, and the list goes on. One of their favorite things to study, you ask…the Bible! They think with wisdom beyond their years about how the God of all, the King of kings, has seen them and chosen them from a storyline not built for purpose and joy (by the worlds standards) but one transformed by the heart of God through the messy efforts of people like me. God, you are GOOD! So, as I see God move and as I, along with you hopefully, gaze into the eyes of the “least of these,” I become an addict of some sort to the piercing eyes of Christ gazing into me. Refine me, Jesus. Help me serve you better.
That’s why we exist, right? To commune with Christ and serve Him. To reflect Him to the broken. To seek opportunity to offer the hope we could never create without a knowledge of Him. To walk in empathy. Not to ignore.
So, I just heard about Summit9 last week. When I did, I knew I wanted to be there. My husband agreed. Our dear friends and co-labores agreed. We feel that attending will help us as we are new and seeking wisdom in our pursuit of Christ through pursuing the orphan of justice. What is an “orphan of justice?” A boy or girl who has lost both of or their only parent as a result of parental imprisonment (Yes, this means that loving the orphan also allows us to love the prisoner…two opportunities to gaze into the eyes of Jesus). Many of the children we work with have been fatherless since infancy. Many are total orphans, having a parent, or two, die in prison. Many have experienced seeing horrid arrests of their father and then have been left by their mother as she pursues a new life with a new man who refuses to look at the child as a child and requires them be left as orphans. We want wisdom. We want Godly connections. We want truth and sharpening. We want to do what we can to equip ourselves to love the orphan fully.
It is our desire to fully gaze into the eyes of the life-to-the-full giver Himself! We are messy and we know it, which makes us say with even more desperation, “More of You, Father, more of You.”