Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tears

God Knows Her Name


Regina
I know a few things now.  In the early days I knew next to nothing.  Or was it nothing?  I didn't know the culture, the language, the people, or the specific strategy the Lord had for me in Uganda.  Slowly He has revealed some of each to me over the past 11 years.  Of all the lessons He has given me over the years, the naivete regarding the level of lying, stealing, and deceiving of the Uganda culture and even church leaders scores among the top three most painful ones.

Regina didn't speak a word of English.  She was one among 9 widows we were financially sponsoring the first several years of the 21st Century.  Her smile was what distinguished her.  Her mind must have been else where as my mother tongue rattled on about whatever.  But, mention her name and her whole face beamed!

Lots of tears when Regina's old cow was put down
Most of these sponsored widows lived in a village not far from Jinja.  Naminya was the first place in Uganda I ever connected with.  The pastor we initially worked with turned out to be an amazing conman.  He introduced us to the widows and our emotionally charged passion to help the most helpless resulted in monthly support being wired to the pastor for distribution.  By 2004 our suspicion was confirmed that the funds we sent were used to purchase small portions of sugar, flour, salt, and cooking oil.  Just enough to give to the widows to keep them dependent on him and for him to use the balance of the money for personal benefit.  It was the tip of the iceberg regarding the depth of cold hearted deception we suffered from.  He stole huge amounts of money from our donations, but none hurt worse than the small amounts that had been sent to care for the helpless.

Regina and her new cow
The donors who had graciously contributed to sustaining these ladies lives were brutally affected by the betrayal of this project and many held me personally responsible for a lack of discernment. Yeah.  Next to nothing or nothing!  Fortunately, the Lord is redemptive and began to show us when helping can hurt or can really help.  We  purposed to encourage, equip, and empower these women to the point of sustaining their lives without depending on sponsorship from America which could end at any unannounced moment.  I'm forever grateful to three couples from Oregon who developed a strategy to
  • motivate courage to leave the "pastor" who used them for personal gain at their expense
  • help them believe that they could sustain their lives without sponsorship
  • move from being receivers to givers
  • instill unity among them as they broke down competition
  • teach basic business principles
  • emphasize character in the process.
Good friends within the first hour!
There efforts were handsomely rewarding and for the past several years none of these widows are being sponsored.  Instead they are involved in business ventures that are sustaining them. While the widows have individual projects that produce income for them, they have also shared a bakery and wedding gown rentals corporately.  They have maintained their unity, support, and love for one another, and have gained the respect of the village.

Regina's particular means of support was in a high quality dairy cow she had been given by the Cow Project of Next Generation Ministries.  Given is not the appropriate term to use.  In reality, each recipient of a high quality dairy cows has to give the first heifer produced by their cow to NGMso that it can be raised, bred, and given to another recipient.  Regina literally fell in love with her cow ... who she recently described to us as her "husband" ... since it was providing a sustainable life from the sale of it's milk.  The cow also produced offspring which were sold for additional income.

Milk for sale in the morning!
Tragically, Regina's cow was taken for breeding the end of last week and the large and aggressive bull broke the cow's back.  Monday of this week the cow had to be put down and the meat was sold for a fraction of the value of the animal.  Regina and many of her neighbors were in tears over this monumental loss.  They could only wonder what Regina would do for income now.

Just two days later on Wednesday, Abdu, one of our Next Generation Ministries associates who is a dairy farmer and helps me oversees the NGM Cow Project, had paid for a beautiful dairy cow to replace Regina's "husband."  The animal has a reputation for a high yield of milk and has produced three calves already.  In addition, the cow is five months pregnant.

Rejoicing in English with granddaughter Susan
Tears flowed in abundance when, unknown to Regina and her neighbors, Abdu placed this provision from God in the barn left empty by the tragedy of just a few days early.

Neighbors gathered around in awe that God had remembered Regina and her great loss and immediate need for a means of income.  Susan, Regina's granddaughter, came from next door to tell her version and to express gratitude to God for responding so quickly to Regina's cry for help.  And, she spoke English!

Whenever the Lord uses me to help in situations like this people profusely express gratitude to me.  I do my best to let them know that I just carry water for the Lord.  Jesus is the Bread of Life and Living Water.  All I do is fetch for Him ... and I love my job.

1 comment:

  1. I love that - we plant the seeds, carry the water - the Lord brings the harvest.

    ReplyDelete

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