The Uganda experience has been a center of my pondering in the three weeks since we returned. I wonder about the depth of their joy in the midst of deep poverty, injustice, and overall economic hopelessness. It is more than a superficial smile. It is a joy in the presence of Jesus. This is such a contrast to the American scene where cynicism reigns and any unfilled desire often leads to an angry response. The difference seems to be the American entitlement and the African â€œnormalcyâ€ of death and disaster. Houses with electricity will have an indicator light so inhabitants will know the electricity is off so as not to use up the battery power unnecessarily. We dress down to show our casualness where they dress up to show that they are not bound by their poverty. The â€œbig manâ€ syndrome is in deep contrast to the American egalitarian.
Shamilaâ€™s dark slum house with the â€œlocal brewâ€ seating with very drunk men immediately next to the tiny living space where girls and woman were ripe for abuse haunts me. Rebekah is not yet 2 but she needs a safe living space. But there is none. Roseâ€™s tearful prayer request that her business would make some money rings in my spirit. She does not want a handout. She wants help and the dignity of work. Fred drives day and night to get his family out of the slum into a two room house with a yard. Running water is far beyond his hope. But even in their humble state, the hospitality was rich.
Hope Alive! Africa (http://www.hopealiveafrica.org/) is providing genuine help so people can live rather than a handout. Help is far harder and takes much longer than a handout which alleviates immediate problems but often creates dependency and promotes our internal Messiah complex and inflated sense of self.
The Rest of the Story
Ambrose did not get his government scholarship. He is praying that somewhere he will be able to find private funding for his desire to study electrical engineering. Contributions through Hope Alive! could be life long help to him and others like him. Catharine and the HA! staff exist to be a help to hard working students like him.
My cellulitis responded to the two weeks of antibiotics. I rejoice that I had a physician to diagnose and tell me what medicine would help and that I had plenty of funds to purchase them. Many of the folk there would have no such resources available. Disease and deformity and death are constant visitors.
Martin did get concrete help for his seriously damage eye. James (on the right) ended up going with him to the hospital to ensure the doctor really invested in his care. The pebble his weed eater had propelled into his eye had ruined the cornea and the underlying structures. There was no choice but to remove they eye. In his helplessness he had come to Hope Alive! his former employer because he had experienced the kindness of the Lord there.
As Catharine says, Hope is the confident, active expectation of good based on the character of God.