Tuesday, May 7, 2013


A Young Woman in Crisis

Any hope for Jovita?
The fragile container was typical. Constructed from unevenly cut timbers and resting precariously on a foundation of equally uneven rocks, the barber shop was among a half dozen others that paralleled the bumpy footpath.  With the exception of the dirty mirror facing two dilapidated barber chairs, the walls were lined with posters proclaiming the superiority of various Ugandan celebrities. I carefully navigated my way up an incline of a weak approach to the opening of the shop and settled in behind the barber's customer I brought him. Perched in the corner of the shop was a television blaring disgusting music videos from some of the prominent musicians from this East African nation.

My concern was the 20 something girl in the barber's chair.

It was my last week in Uganda before my flight back to Oregon in the United States.  Lyzette, the director of Women In Crisis, a ministry that serves under the umbrella of Next Generation Ministries, had requested that I squeeze some time out of the week to accompany her to visit one of these women.  All I knew was that her name was Jovita and that she was among the the ladies Lyzette discovered in the Maternity Ward at Jinja Main Hospital.

After crossing the dam on the Nile River, our vehicle competed with the others for any open space on the road.  We reached the top of the hill, left the paved road, and began winding our way through the trees to a falling down mud and pole house out in the bush.  The house served as shelter from the elements during the day and security during the night.  But, otherwise, living in that environment appeared to be little more than perpetual camping. Lyzette pointed out the badly soiled and fragmented foam laying on the ground that Jovita slept on before some benevolent visitors from America bought her a mattress.

I causally perused the premises to see if I could identify the one woman that I had come to visit. The talkative older woman couldn't be her.  My choice was between two silent and younger looking "girls." I wasn't sure which one, though both seemed curious about these unexpected visitors   I made my choice based on the empty eyes and the hopelessness that dressed the smaller of the two.  She was Jovita.

I didn't know her story, but her demeanor whispered to me that she was neglected and considered, by any who knew her, as of no consequence.  She was living and breathing, but forgotten ... even by those with whom she was living.

Empty Eyes ... Curious Heart
I assumed she spoke no English and my Lugandan was limited.  I asked Lyzette to have her leave the ground on which she was sitting and come and join us on a wooden bench.  She carefully and self-consciously settled in between us and I began my conversation through the interpretation of Lyzette.  How old are you?  23 ... She looked to be a teenager to me and I asked Lyzette to asked the talkative aunt how old Jovita was.  22 ... Okay. Do you speak any English.  No.  Had she never attended school. How did she get pregnant so that she ended up in the maturity ward at Jinja Main Hospital, where Lyzette found and met  her? Some male had taken advantage of her for personal gratification and upon learning she was pregnant virtually disappeared.  What happened to the baby?  It died.  Why did Lyzette take an interest in her?  She had nobody.  She had sepsis and was stinking badly.  What hope did she have after losing the baby?  None.  No one wanted to take care of her.  Did our visit surprise her?  Yes ... she had no cell phone and was literally isolated from any one outside the close perimeter of their home ... unless she went to the village to find a phone to make a call.  I slipped about a dollar into her hands and told her to call Lyzette if she ever needed anything.

It's great that there are people like Lyzette who have compassion on the despised and rejected humans among us.  Strategically placed next to her in the hospital, Jovita found someone who would love her regardless of her background.  I found my heart moved with a similar compassion and the love of Jesus.

Lyzette's husband, and my friend and spiritual son, Jeff, asked if Jovita liked her hair the way it was.  What a simple and profound question.  She told Lyzette that she wanted to cut it off but had no means.  I knew we had the small resources necessary.  She went to change her clothes to go to the village for a haircut. After washing her face, hands, and feet I accompanied her, in silence, back down the path to our vehicle.  We traveled in silence to the barber shop and I examined her face as she settled into the barber's chair.  I was certain that I detected a ray of hope in her eyes.  There seemed to be the slightest reflection of hope in them.  Maybe someone has noticed me.  Maybe someone does care about me.  Maybe I am not forgotten.  Who could have sent these people to check on me and ask me these questions?  And care if I like my hair the way it was?

New do on the outside ...
New hope on the inside ...
We all wear some kind of camouflage in an attempt to conceal our basic needs for love, care, significance and giving relationships.  Each of us is a person in crisis.  Good enough, Jesus uses other people to communicate His love, His care, and His desire for intimate relationship with each of us.  Sometimes He uses a 50 cent haircut to communicate it.  Twenty minutes in a barber's chair is long enough to breed hope in the heart of the hopeless.

If you want to be a part of bringing hope to Women in Crisis in Uganda, please write a check to Next Generation Ministries and mail it to 29940 South Dhooghe Road, Colton, OR 97017.  Note that your donation is to be used for Women in Crisis and it will be designated for this necessary ministry to those who have little or no hope.  Be a part of what God is doing in the lives of women in crisis ... like Jovita.


  1. MAURINE N LUBEGAMay 9, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    May God bless you so much for the great work you do of bringing hope in people's lives. I remember when i first talked to Jovita she was having post traumatic stress. But glory be to God the next time she was brought back to the clinic for review she had greatly improved and had a smile on her face. MAURINE FROM ST.FRANCIS HEALTH CARE SERVICES

  2. This is a favorite - it is one of the most touching stories of a life that was changed by this ministry.


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