Thursday, August 22, 2013
Time Marches On
I have crossed the border from South Sudan into Uganda. Compared to Sudan Uganda is a virtual Disney Land. I have electricity, running water, and a roof over my head! Milton will join me here on Saturday, and we will spend the next week investing in the young men we have here on scholarship.
The hotel where I am staying has a simple garden. Early yesterday morning I passed through it making my way to breakfast. A large tortoise surprised me at the edge of a low hedge. He looked like such thick-skinned grandfather, I would’ve placed a pair of round spectacles on the bridge of his nose if only I’d had them. That first cup of morning coffee beckoned me onward so I hurriedly took his snapshot, and left him soaking up what little sun he could draw from the heavily overcast sky.
About two in the afternoon I passed through the garden once again. I took note that not only was the aged hardback in the same spot, but it didn’t seem he’d even changed the position of his head. Smiling at him, I took another photo and went on about my business. Finally, about seven pm, I passed through the garden yet again. There old-wrinkle-nose sat as if slowly, deeply pondering the problems of the world.
This time I squatted beside him for awhile, hoping some of his secrets would seep into me. Not much transpired, so we both settled for snapping one final photographic image. Like the wrinkles gathered about his neck, time and trouble swirled around my new humpback friend, but neither seemed to much bother him.
I envy the stillness of ol’-wrinkle-nose. No telling how many people pass him in a day, much less how many horrible, angry, or sad stories he hears. While time marches on in a flurry, nothing shatters Tortoise Peace. While I doubt it’s faith that stills the tortoises of our world, I can’t help but wonder if they’re not put on earth, in part at least, to help we humans get a picture of what faith looks like. Stillness. Patience. Becoming gatherers of wrinkles rather than storms.
Life can feel like one big storm after another, interspersed with occasional days of overcast skies and sprinkled with rare days of brilliant sunshine. My last few days in Sudan were most certainly of the brilliant-weather-system variety. Matt, Nick, Olivia and I played, prayed, dreamed, and swapped stories with 15 of our high school students at New Life Ministry.
Stephen, Mangar, Josephine, Masalina, Mary, Bakhita, Priscilla, Siliana, Peter, Majok, Luka, Agazio, Junaselina, Abraham, and Job have seen and experienced a brutal side of life that merely listening to in stillness requires the vast grace of God. Yet, there they are—these mighty young men and women of courage and character, searing flaws and flaming love—clamoring for not just life, but also skills and education so that they might change the world as they’ve been forced to endure it.
They dream of being doctors, preachers, teachers, ministry leaders, faithful lovers, patient parents, and most of all, to know their lives make a difference in the Kingdom of God. They already do make much difference, especially for the younger students they lead at NLM, but they dream of so much more.
These 15 teenagers have a perspective on life that few in our world can offer. As their parents were, they were born into war. Only whereas war normally shuts down all aspects of life except mere survival, these children have had the rare experience of being educated in the midst of bombs, slave raids, famine, and disease.
By the grace of God, we’ve succeeded in saving their lives. Now, their spiritual, emotional, and mental formation are paramount to them carrying the torch for the future. Africa, especially this Northeast corner bordering the Middle East, has long been central to much of the world’s wars, corruption, and economic impact. Even more so, it plays a major role in eternal spiritual developments.
The significance of higher education flowing through a Christ-centered environment can make the difference between saving a few lives and changing the course of history. This new high school will include solar-powered computers and a science lab to equip and prepare these mighty Christian leaders with a solid foundation in all aspects from politics, to economics, to various fields of healthcare.
This far-fetched dream of higher education is currently only about 50% funded. You will find the full proposal and needs at this link: www.makewaypartners.org/MakingDreamsComeTrue.html. Please consider partnering with us in the ongoing transformation of young lives set to change the tides of time.
Although I never saw my wrinkled-neck, round-backed friend take a single step, I know he moved because this morning he was on the opposite side of the garden. Faith teaches us to be still, turning the problems of Stephen, Mangar, Josephine, Masalina, Mary, Bakhita, Priscilla, Siliana, Peter, Majok, Luka, Agazio, Junaselina, Abraham, and Job over to our Father who remembers them through every pain. Yet, it is love—His love for and in us—which drives us into the action that He equips us to take, in His name, on their behalf.
Others may never see us take the steps, nonetheless, the evidence of our children’s lives will tell the toll of God’s love moving through us.
Love, your tortoise sister along the slow-but-sure journey of redemption,
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Posted by Kimberly L. Smith