The Child Would Not Die or Be Silent

How long does it take for one to forgive their mother or father for what they did to them?” the little girl asked me. I smiled, but not from amusement. I was trying not to cry. Which was impossible anyway…because ever since I had walked into this children’s home and rescue center in Nairobi my whole system had frozen. God had taken over…I had known to be in prayer about this particular assignment the whole week. I had been invited to replace Pastor Terry Gobanga who was away – and it was not really about filling her really large and excellent shoes. It was about being asked to share wisdom with about 67 children…who were there not because their parents were no longer alive, but had allegedly become predators that orphaned the children they had borne.

This was the second rescue center, mostly inhabited by children who were healing from sexual violence, that I had been asked to speak at in a month. I wondered about that. But as I held a five week old baby girl in my arms, then later looked around the circle of about 30 eyes (the rest had been excused from my session for a play session with other members of the group we had gone with), I wondered how I could answer that question. Most of us, resent those that call us to account for the way we raise our own children: Mostly because they catch us at a moment, and make it about our entire parenting. But these were not ordinary parenting moments…although it seemed that it was becoming more normalized, this was a crisis.

In this particular home, all ‘except one’ (and I shudder at the use of those two words – because it was still one too many) had been assaulted by a mother, father or uncle – biological. Most of these children were in delicate security situations since their parents’ cases were still ongoing, and there was need by some clans to either “mute or get rid of the evidence.” Most of them were girls…but there were boys too…one too many. There were others who were or had been admitted in hospital, to undergo multiple reconstructive surgeries to lend their lives some semblance of normality. Most of the girls were first borns of at least one of their parents, or their only female child. I looked at their Mum1 – the founder of this home…fourteen (14) years of mothering other people’s children in their worst states had not dimmed her life Light.

How could I answer the children? What would forgiveness look like for them? How do you answer a child who in one moment, or a hundred, had endured war in their genitals to satisfy the hungers of a parent who temporarily forgot that they were supposed to protect not prey on them? Does forgiveness mean that what happened to them was ok? That it should be forgotten? That the children should repent of these (Because they were so often stigmatized – Mum1 shared for instant how one ‘church’ had denied them baptism after going through the classes under the excuse of not being able to afford T-shirts.) Many of these children bore the brunt of these shameful acts against them again and again as they lived each breath with the rejection of the extended families to which they had once belonged – who had perhaps initially celebrated their births and birthdays – who now wanted to forget them for the shame they are accused of bringing home. “For why hadn’t they just died instead of crying out, or getting pregnant, getting an important benefactor and family member whose quaint habits could be ignored into ‘disrepute’ or incarceration for ‘just’ a moment? Why wouldn’t they just let this go and keep up the facade?” This seemed to be the attitude their families had towards them.  What exactly would forgiveness mean for these?

The nightmares needed to end, the healing to come. Forgiveness may be about the offender (e.g. When God forgives our sins it puts us in the best place with Him), but it’s more about the offended (Humanly speaking). You forgive even when the fault is not confessed or admitted to because if allowed to – one offense can define the rest of your life in the worst ways possible. Unforgiveness often translates to meditating on an offence and giving it the power to shut down the functioning of what is still functional in us to hit back at the offender and survive the offense. Meditating constantly on what was done to you gives a grievous injury even more power over you than  it had initially. It can colour, darken everything…take away your smile…your life. I cannot remember what I said to them, because I was praying a lot, and asking God to speak to His little ones.  But they smiled…and they spoke…and they gave me strength as well. There was nothing God could not heal. It was hard leaving the home, leaving them behind to go be with my own household…I had intended to leave by 2pm. I was there till 6:30pm. It was hard to leave these little ones that because they still suffered from parenting wounds had become part of my own story. Their hugs, the whispered stories after the main session, the tears they allowed me to see, and the feel of them as they held onto me while I prayed for them – made them mine – indelibly. As I left though, I realized that they were indeed in the best place they could be for now, having been rescued and that for this moment were truly safer because they cried out and refused to die.

But somewhere in this same neighborhood, in this country, in this globe, other children were unfortunately starting the journey they were walking. I prayed that their parents would be hit by Heaven’s Might, that they would not put their babies through this, and that the babies who had gone through this, would find Hope again, find God, in parental touches by those in whose hands God would place them in. I don’t know…

vipslit@yahoo.ca

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Zoar and Ishmael

Its been a year and more since God started speaking to me about this move. I believe Him, just that I keep looking, like all those that God has ever spoken to about a move…I have looked at myself and seen all the ways in which I am flawed, I fall short and wondered…

So I did what I could, and then waited. Heart beating so fast, it wore me out. So I settled back into the status quo. Into the shame of stagnation. Choosing to the endure the scorn from those who knew…who had heard from me what God said He would do for me and mine, rather than risk being disappointed by God. I add this latest one, to all the rest I have heaped in a treasure box…knowing that God speaks to me…but wondering if the characteristic of His Words, that they never go back to Him void, applies to the ones He speaks to me. But then, that would make God – The Truth a liar wouldn’t it? And that is an impossibility if ever there was one.

So then God begins to gently lead me through Genesis – from chapter 1, and Deuteronomy 1-2. I am now on Chapter 19 and am so trembling at His Word and His Mind. He is tough about the things He says. When we think we can advice Him better on how to navigate through a seemingly complex plan of His, He demonstrates otherwise. And don’t I know it…this laps around this stagnant mount have worn me and mine out.

Its true, I haven’t heard from Him the ‘where’ of the move. But I have heard the urgency of His call to get up and get going. I don’t yet know the ‘how’, and yet I know its urgent. So this morning again, this early afternoon, His words break me again. I hunger for His direction. I feel guilty, condemned, that I have failed Him. That I am still here, when He wills for me to me to be elsewhere. Then just like that, He sends two words “No Condemnation.”

I realize that its no longer up to me. This is His thing…it has to be. He has put me to sleep, so to speak, as He did Abraham – made me incapable of doing anything about this lest I taint it with flesh. He reminds me of Ishmael – Abraham’s work. He reminds me of Zoar – Lot’s work. The choices they made, that am not immune to making over my own navigation to perfect faith in Him. Choices that frustrate us, that complicate what is already beyond human abilities. Let this not be my story again – for it has been in other areas of my life.

‘No Condemnation.’ Amazing Grace. He has made and effected His covenant all by Himself. All He needed from me, was my willingness. I can trust Him with this. When its time, He will override all my hesitations and lead me to His chosen sanctuary for me and mine. A sanctuary where His Will is effected on earth as it is in Heaven. A copy of Heaven. And I cannot wait to finally enter into all that He has for me, everything, but especially – an walk and fellowship with God Almighty that is uninterrupted by bouts of doubt and resistance from my end, accompanied by a cheap, weak patchwork of human activity hanging grotesquely against the excellence of His priceless work; because His Mind, Heart and Words are as He says them, beyond my wildest imaginings and greatest wisdom…as they should be.

Shalom.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

Safe in a Fire

Fire…this word has been significant for me in the past three months or so. It started when I read and saw for the first time, that when God approved of a sacrifice, He sent fire onto it. I must have read it more than a hundred times – the story of Gideon in the book of Judges…but this time, it struck me that when this man gave his best to his divine visitor, Heaven sent a fire upon his sacrifice.

About a week later, I was at a retreat with family. During worship and later during the ministrations, I had the distinct sensation of being on fire, in my very veins. And yet it was not a fire that destroyed but one that purged and purified. I was humbled by the experience. Heaven had approved and accepted the sacrifice of me.

Today it was different. I had spent the later part of the morning and early afternoon in fellowship with two friends who happened to be ministers. Worshippers. I had to rush off to hospital to visit with a close relative who awaits the healing touch of God. I prayed with him, and then came home.

I was sitting in the room facing the balcony which we use as the family room with the male members of my household. Suddenly there was a loud explosion, then darkness, and with it a huge fire flared mid-air in the balcony. My grandson Gio had found his way to me and I held onto him, knowing that we were facing an electric fire which would consume the house. A lot went through my strangely calm mind…how to get Gio and Leroy out of the house; that God was serious about us moving; wondered who would hold Shukri – who was away at work – through the loss of her entire family…but there was no fear. Just a numbness, a calm, an acceptance of what was coming. Then the fire went off, without leaving a scent or sing or soot of any kind. Perhaps my senses were so numbed from the suddenness of the experience that they could not perceive any evidence of what had just transpired…but I sensed Heaven just as I had sensed death a second ago.

We rushed out to the balcony…the neighborhood was doused in darkness, except for our house and one other neighbour. It was not about the lines…we have had blackouts before so I understand which houses have which wiring phases…I sensed God’s Hand in this…making a selection of sorts. We were not the only ones to have seen the fire that blazed on our balcony. My landlord’s caretaker had been headed our way when the house flared.  He told me later, that his concern was on what the landlord would say at having his property burnt down. Our neighbours, the boys selling boiled eggs and smoky sausages, the youth that were now angrily stoning a lorry that had plowed into two electrical poles and left them broken and the wires mangled up also witnessed it. Every one was surprised that the house had survived it. Sort of like Moses’ fire that burnt but did not destroy.

The driver was angrily pulled out of the lorry. We run to the young men and pleaded with them not to harm him. We asked them to consider reporting the issue at the police post instead. Beating and/or killing him would not change anything. We called the power company and told them what had happened. I was impressed by their response. They arrived within 45 minutes. The police also came at the same time. The electrical technicians worked on the wiring and sorted out some of the mess…the rest would be for tomorrow. I stood and watched, wondering if my family would be safe spending the night in that house. We had nowhere else to go but back there, to trust God through the night, to trust Him for each tomorrow He chose for us, whether here or in heaven. It would be well, regardless. He had kept us safe in a fire, and in His fire.

Shalom

vipslit@yahoo.ca

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