When It Rains, It Pours
The old woman slowly stood to her feet and walked to the microphone. She told of a lifetime of witchcraft and of recent years of severe pain in all her bones. She would start getting out of bed about 5:00 AM and it would take her 2 hours to get to her feet. In spite of her wicked life, she had begun to sing a song during her painful years, "Oh my soul, look to God. Oh my bones, look to God. Oh my heart, look to God. Oh my soul, oh my soul, look to God."
On New Year's Eve there was a highly advertised all night church service at a stadium in Kampala. The old woman was invited to go by a grandson. She wanted to go, even though it meant several hours of hard travel to get there. But she had no money for the trip. But the money came and she decided to go, her heart still singing her little song, "Oh my soul, look to God." The morning of the stadium service, she woke up without pain! She was able to move around easier than she had in years, preparing for her overnight trip.
Once she got to the stadium, she was appalled to see a huge flight of stairs that had to be climbed to get into the stadium. But having no choice, she began to climb the stairs, something that would've been impossible just a day before. Later, after one of the services, people wanting prayer were invited to come down to the stadium floor. Again, the stairs. But the old woman slowly wended her way down to the stadium floor, where she accepted the forgiveness through Jesus for her many sins, and became born again. The people were told to kneel in prayer, then they stood, then they kneeled again. Then the stairs back up to her seat, and in the morning, the long, rough trip home. But now along with her nimbler body, the old woman understood the meaning of her song, that it was God Himself who had given it to her! Her soul and body had truly looked to, and seen, the living God, and He had healed her inside and out.
As she told us the story, she said she wanted to sing us her song. As she sang it, the keyboard player began to pick out the melody and the audience began to echo her words. Tears began to flow. This old woman was the oldest in her clan, one of 3 remaining children of an aged mother who is steeped in witchcraft and alcoholism. Ten siblings have died of AIDS. The grandmother is raising 30 orphaned grandchildren. A hopeless family that now has the dawn of hope, springing forth among them!
After this moving testimony, the pastor invited people who were suffering hopeless situations in their lives to come forward for prayer. As he laid hands upon a widow who'd been suffering a serious back pain for several months, he discerned the presence of a demonic spirit causing the pain. As soon as the spirit was recognized, the woman went wild. Her shoes flew off as her arms and legs flew in every direction. She fought the pastor and other staff praying for her, doubling up her fists, rage on her face, tears streaming down. Steadfast prayers brought relief as the crippling spirit fled from the woman's body, and she found herself on her knees at the front of the church, asking her pastor what had happened? Later, I watched her sitting in the back of the church, smiling, completely in her right mind, and pain free.
As the service closed, a quiet little lady asked to testify at the last minute, no doubt inspired by what had gone before. She told of her 19 year old son coming to her recently after visiting the latrine. He was crying in pain and asked his mother to look at his problem. She said it was as if fire had burned his backside. But her son, who has some medical training, explained to her that his intestine had prolapsed, and they needed to pray. People often die in Uganda of prolapsed bowel; not having money for surgery, they stop eating in order to stop the painful defecation, and they starve to death in about a month.
But this little mother knew that her God heals! Her face radiant, she told us how He had healed her of AIDS, He had healed her from fornicating, He had healed her from moving around (she was homeless), and now she was asking her same healing, saving God to heal her suffering boy. They stood together in faith believing, and within one week, the boy was normal again!
There was a time when I questioned God, why the Word says so often that the poor are blessed. I saw the suffering of the poor, they were obviously not blessed with material goods. So I searched His Word for what He meant by "blessed." The verse that answered it the best for me was James 2:5, "…Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised to those who love Him?" It's easier for the poor to cry out to God because they are not distracted by material goods and provisions. Suffering and desperation can bring about eternal rewards.
Again, Paul says, "Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong… It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'" (I Corinthians 1:26-31)
After I wrote this, we had a sudden torrential rain hit us yesterday afternoon, with hurricane-like winds. A few tree branches came down around my house, but no real damage, but several houses in my village collapsed. But soon we were to discover that we had indeed suffered some serious damage. Pastor David ran up to our school, which is also our church on Sundays, and found our building completely collapsed! Fortunately, no one was around when it happened, because had the storm happened during school or church, people would've been huddling inside for protection.
We are grateful to God for His special protection, and also for the fact that the roof and rafters of our building are quite intact, just sitting on the ground. It was the poles holding them up that gave way. We have 2000 bricks already made towards a permanent structure, so we will start reconstruction by putting up brick, rather than wood, poles, until we're able to do the major construction.
Pray for us that God will provide everything we need for erecting our temporary structure once again, as well as for our permanent structure down the road. We started classes last week, as it's the beginning of a new school year for us, but for awhile, school will be held under a tree! We have rented a nearby house which can also help out during this time, but there is a mentally unstable woman squatting there whom we're having trouble getting to vacate. So please pray for a quick resolution of this situation for us as well.