Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Dreaming with God
“...to comfort all who mourn
and provide for those who grieve in Zion--
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3
This is our mission. This is why we began. To bring healing to broken hearts, love to those who were not loved, and comfort to those who had been devastated by war.
As this past year comes to an end, and we look to the future, as our girls graduate to start new lives with fresh hope, we find ourselves in a season of changes once again. It seems when you are following God's voice, nothing is ever stable. He never lets you get quite comfortable before asking you to be brave.
These past few weeks, I've been sitting with our girls who were once child soldiers, who were once girls whose eyes I searched for some sign of life. They are not those same girls anymore. As we do assessments and evaluations with them from their time with us so we can learn what has truly impacted them the most---I find that we actually did it. What started out as a dream, became a reality and we succeeded. With God's help, lives were changed and these same girls who had no sense of purpose now say,
“I was the type who had given up on myself, but now I see hope and a future for myself. I feel I am a new person, something is driving me, I have hope now.” -Janet-
It is almost hard for me to believe sometimes that it actually happened. After all the struggles, and pain, the reward is the smile I now see light up Janet's eyes.
These girls I have loved and lived with, who have become like daughters, and who will now be friends---they will graduate at the end of October and I feel the change coming, and the sadness I will feel at letting them go. But it's time. With small loans we are giving, and follow up, they are now ready to stand on their own.
It means change for us too. I thought that God would have me do this forever, but we've learned a lot this year, and I believe God is asking us to have faith again for a new dream.
Things have changed in northern Uganda. People are returning home to their villages and child mothers are not as easily accessible to give help to. We still have such passion for these vulnerable girls, but believe we might better be able to assist them in day teachings in the village or within a healing center rather than a residential program.
We've learned too that in order to last here we need focus. We cannot be everything to everyone, but our hope is to be one thing really well.
I believe God is bringing us back to the core of why He brought us here—to affect change in hearts.
And while we did that through a residential program for these girls this time, I think God has a different method for us now. Based on our interviews with the girls, the thing that impacted them the most was the counseling and love we gave them, and the teachings on healing and forgiveness.
My hope is to always be transparent with you all who have supported us these past few years. We are praying about a new dream God has given us about a Healing Center where formerly abducted girls, child mothers, pastors, and those who are broken hearted can come during the day to receive these teachings, and for week long retreats which can change their life forever. In order to do this we need land, a vehicle, and to raise funds for building. We knew that we could not rent forever, but it takes a step of faith to make the leap towards investing in building. We ask for your prayers as well as we seek God for direction during this time of re-evaluation. We want to use this time as girls are moving out to figure our next steps instead of trying to take another group in right now. But I must say it is difficult for me to let these girls go. Even though they all know where I live and have my cell and will probably come over for tea from time to time, it's not easy when I've loved them and mentored them for the last year.
We are keeping our “home” model of transformation for the children whose hearts are soft and who can live together without much conflict as we train them up in Jesus. So while one phase ends, another one opens. Our Congolese home will continue to minister to the daughters of commercial sex workers in Gulu town and place them in school, as we continue to do outreach with their mothers whom we love and want to help escape lives of prostitution.
We will still be ministering to war-affected girls, but just in a different context. And will partner with other organizations to help them with their other needs that we are unable to fill instead of spreading ourselves thin to try and meet all their needs.
We are realizing we cannot be “need-meeters” but need to be called by the Father to do what He asks. There are no counseling centers or retreat healing centers in Gulu. The closest place is in Jinja which is about 8 hours of traveling away. The people returning to villages are still traumatized by war, with suicide rates rising. One of our girls' father's (Irene) just killed himself last week. The need for counseling is imperative.
I believe this is a season of transition for many people and we covet your prayers as we figure out ours. I want to thank you for the ways you have supported us and continue to do so--always encouraging us to follow the Spirit.
It is what gives me the freedom to dream.