Thursday, January 15, 2015

One Way Love

This is the story behind the story that was behind the story.  I guess that breaks down a single experience into three stories.

It is time now to reveal the unspoken story.  It is a story about what was gong on inside of me ... about the below the skin excursion that raised questions about my identity here in the Pearl of Africa.  This hidden expedition brought three critical questions to my mind:
Am I a missionary?
Am I a mercenary
Or am I a misfit?
Hmmm.  Let me explore.

There is no way to avoid the collision that is bound to happen in this line of work.  My identity is not all wrapped up in what I do.  I wouldn't call myself any of those three "M" terms.  Those are actually terms that describe a function and doesn't answer a real "who are you?" question.  They are better used to answer the "What do you do?" question.

Which brings me back to my internal confrontation.  If you read the story behind the story, that was behind the story, then you should know what preceded the unseen crash.  If you haven't read it ... then here is the condensed version.


Amina with Nikki & Jeff of Morning Star Foundation
One of the things I do is to see people the eyes of help.  People have so many various kinds of needs here in Africa.  The need was easy to recognize in 3 year old Amina.  She was born with a large hole in her heart.  The surgery to close the hole and produce a normal physical life was simple enough.  It could be done right here in Uganda. My part was to raise the funds through Next Generation Ministry and work in harmony with Morning Star Foundation  They are located in Kampala and specialize in heart issues children have.  Our good working relationship resulted in an admission slip from a heart surgeon at the Heart Institute of  Mulargo and surgery scheduled for a Friday. The money had been donated for the surgery and all contingencies. Everyone was happy!


Exposure in the studios of NBS
That happiness evaporated the day that Amina was suppose to be admitted at the hospital for her surgery.  NGM was there. Morning Star Foundation was there.  But Amina and her parents never showed up. Multiple phone calls of inquiry to the father brought frustration and suspicion.  His answers to our questions contradicted each other.

When we arrived home late that evening we discovered that a girl by the name of Amina had been on the streets of Jinja in vehicle, equipped with loud speakers, along with her parents.  They were raising funds under the guise of needing approximately $10,000 for a surgery in India!  The scam was exposed on live radio and TV the following morning. Amina and her parents showed up in the radio and TV studio to solicit more funds.  To say that they were shocked to discover me in the studio as well would be a gross under statement.

Fortunately, the father consented to let us take Amina and her mother to Kampala that very afternoon so that we could keep the appointment for surgery the following morning. During the trip to Kampala, the wife told us that they had collected over $1,600 the day before from their street solicitations! I kept telling myself that we must not lose sight of the need of the child in the wake of the father's greed.

Amina had the surgery the following morning and it was successful.  Her mother was so ecstatic that she hugged all of us with uninhibited happiness without regard for the husband's sullenness.  He, of course, was considering a future without his former "job."  He was hoping to dodge the outcry and anger that so many people had toward him for his deception.


Several days after Amina's surgery
Maybe it is common with others too.  Maybe not.  But, I find there are some experiences in my life which produce a collision between what I know to be true with what I feel.  The experience can be so disappointing, because of betrayal, it produces a rush of emotions which make me want to "slap" someone rather give them a hug. God has done a significant enough work in me that I've purposed to simply love the people He puts in front of me.  In fact, that was the specific goal my wife and I set when we arrived in Uganda last October.

But that knowledge was severely challenged when a man who appeared to be working with me revealed that he was off on his own program and using deception to fill his deep pockets.

That was the secret emotion I experienced as anger toward Amina's father attempt to sabotage the commitment I have made to love people ... regardless? Was that the word that I had used?  Yeah. Regardless.

I suspect that it is normal to love back when someone loves you.  Love begets love.  And that is not bad.  But, love usually seems to carry conditions.   And there often seems to be limits.

Medical follow up on Amina's recovery in the village
God began to confront my anger.  He asked tough questions.  "How are you different from Muhammad?"  "What is the extent to which you have been a recipient of mercy?"  These questions vented the anger and began to turn my emotions toward my original commitment of love ... regardless.

That change provided room for an explanation for Amina's father's bad behavior.  I sensed the Lord telling me that Muhammad also had a heart problem.  That each one of is born with heart problems.  Not the physical kind of problems ... but the spiritual kind.

I made an appointment to travel to the village to do a follow up visit on Amina's condition.  But, behind the appointment was a mission.  I wanted to be transparent with Amina's parents, Muhammad an Aisha.  I requested our driver park under a shade tree.  I got out and began to share my thoughts with them.  I told them that there was no difference between them and me ... until the Lord did heart surgery on me.  I explained that I, and everyone, was born with a heart of stone, but that God took away my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh and put His Spirit within me.

Sharing the heart problem issues with Muhammad
I told them that now I am free love them without conditions.  I told them I am committed to love them.  But, it is not because I am a good guy.  It is because I've had my heart surgery.  I encouraged them that God desires to do the same kind of work in them as well. That behavior is the consequence of a person's heart.  What we believe determines what we do.

There is still a lot of mystery to me about the nature of love.  It is a bit staggering to realize that love can give you more than you ever imagined and yet allow you to give away more than you are aware you even had ... and still end up richer for it all in the end.  The more you give ... the more you have to give away.   The more love you keep for yourself the less you have.  It seems to be a paradox in every relationship.

In addition to this mystery I've discovered that, just as Jesus loves much of mankind, I can love some people when the love is a completely one way street.  There is a satisfying joy in having a one way love.  I am not a mercenary or a misfit ... I've been sent to Uganda to love people.

And that is the story behind the story ... that was behind the story behind the story.


  1. Replies
    1. What a great perspective, Joeatta. Thanks.

  2. Paul I so identify with the desire to love unconditionally. Thank you for yet one more example of the beauty of the transforming Love of God. I have hope! I love and miss you two!

    1. I suspect it is the Lord's desire for each of us who follow Him as well. Thanks for the love you have for us. We love miss you too.

  3. thank you for that example. HIS love is soooo big and available. Thank you for pushing through and sharing with the parents and loving them so well. I want to know HIM so I can love more. Pat O Ps 71:14

    1. Thanks Pat, but you have been one of my primary mentors in teaching me how to love one way! You are a gift from God.

  4. Yay! Reminds me so much of Paul White's analogies in the Jungle Doctor books. The heart surgery analogy is so perfect. Thanks for the backest back story!


Please share your comments here.