We rise early before the sun. The journey stretches long before us dropping off over a predawn horizon. We bounce and jostle straddling 2 huge grain sacks filled with fresh warm bread from a local bakery.
100,000 people. Their world’s burned to ash, their homes bombed, their families separated running for their lives. My mind cannot wrap itself around the enormity of it all. And here we come, 4 of us with 600 pieces of bread praying God still uses little lunches wholly offered to Him to bring His Kingdom.
It is five and half hours one way over nonexistent roads. The area is too dangerous to spend the night. So we will stay only a few hours and return well before dark. Militias have attacked the last two nights in a row.
Nearing the tumultuous border with the north, we approach this small village of Turalei. It is a speck on the map. Temporary shelters line the road and fill the open spaces. We pull into the dusty market center to find thousands have already fled deeper into the bush from the attacks that followed them here. Tens of thousands have run again for their lives. A few thousand remain behind.
We wind our way through grass mat huts in a field until we happen on a family under a mango tree. Mama Lina (in the green with her arm around me) runs up and envelops me in her embrace. Her eyes glisten. Her children laugh and giggle. Sitting on a woven grass mat, the only thing left from their former home, this family opens their hearts and stories to us. You would think they were having a summer picnic.
They narrate the last weeks. I stand in awe at the loss, the pain. And their joy in the middle of it all.
This mama gazes deep into my heart, moist eyes shining and she who ran from bombs living with her children under a mango tree with seemingly no protection from marauding militias, SHE grabs me close me and holds on to me for long. THIS is love.
She leans low and whispers about His faithfulness.
He will care for you. Don’t worry about having only one leg. He will never leave you. He will always be there. We are never alone.
I choke back tears. I seriously want to pull up a grass mat under the next mango tree and become their neighbor. I am stunned again at the generosity, the compassion and the riches of those we call poor. I leave a bit of my heart under their tree. I long for the day I can go back to find it. And I wonder which one of is truly poor.
She shows me this: Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God in an upside down Kingdom where the last are first, the least are great and we find our lives by giving them away.
So what about you dear friends? Where have your journeys on mission or outreach taken you this summer? Across the world or around the corner, what have you learned on the way? Do you have a story from your times of service or mission over this summer season? Do you have a post – old or new – that you want to link up with us here?
After all shared journeys are such gifts in an often solitary world. We would be honored to celebrate and learn from all that you have seen God do as you have stepped out to follow Him!
By Michele Perry from An Unpaved RoadLeave a Comment