Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Peace is Like Glass

Officially, we started work last week. But the needs are great and I was getting restless, so before Christmas I assisted with a small part of an assessment and I learned so much. During that week I spoke with parents of young women who returned from the LRA last year. I met their daughters. Most of them were in captivity for about 8 years. I’m struggling to find the right words for my interactions with them. They may not exist—somehow I was inspired and heartbroken by the same conversations. Most of the girls who have returned came back with children. When I talked to the parents I noted that the moms seemed to have adjusted to that more easily than the dads. The dads all shared their struggle to accept and love the children that were a constant reminder of how they had failed to protect their daughters and how they had been repeatedly raped while in captivity. It's so heavy.

Angelina, the Chairperson of CPA, says that peace is like glass. You have to keep it carefully. If it breaks it shatters and you can only hold onto a few splintered shards. What we’re doing is trying to put the pieces back together. The conversations I had feel like splinters of peace. There was resilience. There was pain and hope.

Angelina is an amazing woman whose approach to suffering is profoundly spiritual. She shares her painful stories openly. She told me of how she used to pray lying on the concrete floor pleading with God for the release of her daughter. After 7 years of pleading she told me how one night she reminded God that the seventh year is the year of freeing those who are in captivity. “God, you do not break your promises—you are not a liar,” she told Him, “are you going to let this year pass without fulfilling your promise?” She told me that the same night her daughter had a dream where God told her that she was going home to her people. The next day in the middle of 4 guards and a convoy of rebels she felt that she should turn left at a fork in the road. In broad daylight she walked to the left holding the hand of her son while the LRA walked to the right. No one stopped her or asked where she was going. She was free. Then, Angelina asks, how can we not know that God is supreme? That He is faithful? She told me that once a white woman told her that if her God was faithful and supreme He wouldn’t have let the girls be taken from Aboke in the first place and the war would never have started. She told me that expecting me to be equally shocked that someone would say such a thing. But I confess, I identified with the other white woman. After hearing about the things her daughter went through during the 7 years before her miraculous escape I found myself questioning God’s timing. If God was going to intervene eventually anyway, than why did it take Him so long? Angelina asked a different question, “How can a WHITE woman who has so much not have the one most important thing--the knowledge that God is good?”

3 comments:

Travis said...

Thank you for your words. I was deeply encouraged by them today.

My love and prayers are with you both as you wade increasingly deeper into these stories of pain, faith and glory.

Steve Garcia said...

Wow.

What a story. Angelina speaks to this brown man who has so much just as pointedly as to you.

May I share Angelina's story (and yours) in church sometime?

I spoke Sunday on "Something Beautiful for God", a reference to Mother Teresa, who said, “I don’t beg. I have not begged from the time we started the work. But I go to the people – the Hindus, the Mohammedans, and the Christians and I tell them – “I have come to give you a chance to do something beautiful for God.”

I want my life to be something beautiful for God. Yours is and your work is. He is pleased, I know.

God bless you and watch over you.

May you both rest in the one thing we all need, the knowledge that God is good.

your pastor and friend always,

Steve

Matt said...

I too am deeply touched by this story. We have so much in America, compared to these people. And yet we take it all for granted, and do not trust in God with this unwavering faith that they have. I am inspired and moved. This story made me cry. Thank you Father, for servants like Ben and Holly, and their devotedness to your calling on their lives. May I do the same!

Also - Happy belated birthday to Ben! Love ya, bro!
Your buddy Matt