Today I speak for the voiceless.
My feet. My feet took some pretty difficult steps today.
While I have a few scars and calluses leftover from my hard core dance days, they simply do not compare to the cracks in the bare feet of the children who walk up to 50 kilometers each day to attend Kikongo Primary School.
My hands. My hands were held by little boys in the camp settlements who can not afford the luxury of going to a good school.
My face. My face was touched so lovingly by little girls who wanted to remove the wild strands of hair from my eyes. Little girls who will likely be married off very soon by families in desperate need of a dowry.
And oh, my soul. My soul is hurting and broken as I sit in a cozy four poster bed while these kids share mats with siblings on the floor of their homes.
Yet I don’t think it occurs to any of them to desire for more. They know God as their provider in times of trouble. They trust Him to deliver them from their hurt and pain.
Deborah, a 10 year old student at Kikongo Primary, shared with us that her favorite bible verse is Psalm 23:1-4.
"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me along the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and Your staff -- they comfort me."
"I shall not want." No matter how bleak the situation, Deborah knows that her God will provide for her every need. Another translation says “there is nothing I lack.” From an American perspective there are lots of things she lacks, like nutritious food and clean drinking water and reasonable transportation. But from a God perspective she has food in her belly, a roof over her head, community to pour into her and a relationship with the Father.
Indeed there is nothing she lacks.
Kenneth wakes up at 4 am and is on the road walking by 5. It takes him three and a half hours to reach Kikongo, where he studies and hopes to one day be a doctor. At the end of the day he walks home, unless a friend can take him on a bicycle. When he first started attending the school at the beginning of this year, he found the seven hour round trip journey to be difficult, but now it is simply a part of life. Kenneth, a believer in Christ, knows that he is blessed to have a school to walk to at all.
Christine, a 14 year old, longs to one day be a teacher herself. She’s felt a calling to preach the word of God, and often discusses her love for Jesus with her best friend, Rebekah. He is worthy of praise, she says, because He died for our sins and shares in our sufferings. Her journey to and from school is slightly different, with a one hour boat ride each way from a different island.
Michael (his real name I don't know how to spell) walks to school by himself each day so as not to be late. He takes his studies very seriously, and joined Chicongo earlier in the year because he heard it was a better school. Like 80 percent of the other students, Michael walks barefoot. Shoes are a luxury that he and his brothers cannot afford. The four of them share one sleeping mat on the floor every night. His twin brother passed away years ago, so now Michael is the eldest child. For him, the three most important things in life are education, Jesus, and respect for parents, in that order. And Michael has all three. He says that he likes Jesus because He heals and helps the poor.
This is what life is like on Buvuma Island. This is what I believe life to be like in much of Uganda. Before I went out today, I read Matthew 6. Verses 25-34 say:
"This is what I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat’ or ‘What will we drink’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
I feel that these children, wise beyond their years, understand this passage better than I ever will. Their stories represent 242 others who attend Kikongo Primary School.
Thank you, Lord, for directing my steps today, and for supplying the deepest needs of your kiddos. We could all learn a lot from them. Please forgive us for turning our backs on our neighbors, on these children of yours who were so beautifully designed by you, the Creator. They were made for more than this, and they deserve better from us. Please give us the courage to sacrifice a small piece of our abundant wealth so that others may live better, knowing that in you we will always lack nothing. Amen.
If you would like to financially sponsor Kikongo Primary School, please visit the online giving page.
*This was originally a journal entry that I wrote last Thursday night as I processed the things that I saw. I adapted it to fit the nature of the blog.
*Photos below courtesy of the always lovely Jade Metz.
Please pray for the students who attend Kikongo Primary School, as well as the teachers and faculty. Pray that their finances would be abundant, and pray for discernment as they make tough decisions on what purchases they make.
Please continue to pray for University Discipleship Movement, as the students are now balancing school studies and ministry. I know that life all too well.
I will be traveling on safari this coming weekend, so please pray for safety and SO MUCH FUN!
Next weekend, WGM: Uganda is having a mini stay-retreat. Please pray that it be a time of good rest and fellowship. The new executive team is also meeting on October12, so please pray wisdom and discernment over them.