Last night, we had some pretty bad storms in my area. The tornado sirens were going off and the wind was blowing at around 80 mph. After the scary part let up, the rain continued to fall so my best friend and I had to cancel our run for the evening seeing as it was a monsoon outside. So, we did what any normal person would do: we made chocolate chip cookies and turned them into ice cream sandwiches by slapping some chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in between them instead. And if we were wrong in doing so, we came to the conclusion we didn’t wanna be right.
This morning, I met her for one of our weekly boxing sessions and, because we were gluttons last night, we decided to throw in some extra cardio…….which to Julie meant a two mile run UP MT. KILIMANJARO. I had no idea what I was getting in to when she said, “Hey let’s go for a short run to finish this session up, it’s only about two miles.” I was thinking this would be no big deal, I run way more than that several times a week. WRONG. This trek was literally an uphill battle. At one point, I yelled ahead to Julie, “If I collapse, leave me for dead.” And I wasn’t kidding. The only thing that made it doable was the 55 degree weather this morning. Anyway, I’m half dead this afternoon.
None of that had anything to do with what I’ve been thinking about the past few days, but that’s how my mind operates so whatever.
What has been on my mind, though, is something that is very dear to my heart. I was able to travel to West Africa a few years ago and while I was there, I left a big part of who I am there in Senegal. Last night, I watched the movie called Machine Gun Preacher. Long story short, it’s about the abduction of children in Uganda and Sudan who are being turned in to rebel fighters as a part of the Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony. I will say, I did not jump on the Kony 2012 bandwagon at the beginning of the year, but after watching this movie last night, my heart was completely crushed. I had no idea how real this problem is. While Uganda and Sudan are on the complete opposite side of Africa, the images of theses children took me back to my time in Senegal. I remember the mothers who would place their babies in my arms and ask that I take them home with me and I remember being broken to tears, feeling so helpless. I remember lying awake at night, hearing the noises of the African people, praying to a Muslim god, and hurting for these people. I flew over Gambia in to Sedhiou and during my time there, I fell even more in love with the people of Senegal. While there, I was given the name Oupelly by some of the village people. While I was there, the group I was with was able to bring school and medical supplies in to the villages and through this, it opened a door for us to show them the love of Christ. This same group has brought doctors and dentists in to the villages and they open up a small clinic while there and at the same time are able to introduce the people to Christ. When you think about John 3:16 where we are reminded that God sent his ONLY son as a sacrifice for our sins, it puts things in to perspective. There are a lot of things that we can do for these people who have no voice, but are we really willing to get down and dirty, get our hands really involved in what is going on? Jesus says in Matthew, “I was hungry and you gave me food to eat…..” and as we do for others, we are also doing for Him. Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it? How many times in our own country do we overlook people in need because we’re in a hurry or so busy we don’t even take the time to notice hurting people? These children in Uganda and Sudan, and even the people of Senegal, are helpless, are hopeless, and in need. They are in need of a lot of things but most of all, they have a thirst and a hunger for something that only Christ can satisfy. Psalm 82:3 says that we are to defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless. Whatever we do for the least of these, we are doing it for Him. James 1:27 commands us to look after the orphans and the widows.
I will be the first to admit that I don’t do as much as I could. I know the most important thing we can do is pray for these people, and not just the people in Senegal and other countries outside our own. There are people in these United States that are hurting and in need and it is our responsibility as Christians to show the love of Christ. “Let us not love with words but with actions and in truth.” It’s more than a song, it’s putting our words in to action and actually doing. My prayer is that my heart will be broken by the things that break the heart of God. I pray that my eyes are opened to all that God wants me to be and do for the people who have no voice and for those that are longing for so much more than what they know. I was fortunate to grow up in a family that was always in church and I became a Christian at a very young age. For me, this was just normal. But the older I’ve gotten and the more life experience I’ve been given, I realize that there are A LOT of people in this world that were not that fortunate. My sheltered life led me to believe that what I was doing was what everyone else was doing as well. But there are so many who haven’t heard about the love of Christ and who are so desperate for something to fill their emptiness. Isaiah 6:8 says, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” And this really is the cry of my heart. If it means I continue to live in the United States and the Lord uses me as a teacher to reach the hurting children of my community or if He asks me to leave all I know and move to a village in Sedhiou, well, here I am. Send me.