[They returned,] strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14: 21, 22
Thanks to those of you who prayed for me and my team on our mission to Uganda. Every connection, every meeting, every session was touched by grace. As are the people of Uganda…
Uganda is a place filled with stories, having had more than its share of violence and sorrow. One of our Ugandan teammates shared his tale of being randomly arrested by Idi Amin’s soldiers along with some of his college friends. Joseph and his buddies were rounded up and taken to a military enclosure in Kampala, the capitol. They endured humiliation when they were told to close their eyes and lie face down and then ordered to roll around in the mud for the entertainment of their tormentors. Suddenly, shots rang out, and Joseph felt the spatter of warm blood from his friend’s body, but he dared not open his eyes.
Eventually, the soldiers lost interest in this sadistic activity and then prodded the young men to crawl on hands and knees over the muddy, rough surface of the military compound. For hours Joseph and his friends crawled until their hands and knees were raw flesh while the soldiers mocked and laughed. When Amin’s men finally had their fill, the students were pushed through the gate and told to leave, as unexpectedly as their apprehension.
Had the young men been afraid? Had they felt hatred for their oppressors? Joseph told us that he was traumatized after this (and other) incidents during the reign of the mad man Amin. And he and his fellow Ugandans had even more atrocities to endure at the hands of other despots. But instead of becoming embittered, Joseph determined to grow through these experiences and became an attorney involved in advocacy, human rights issues, and a champion of families and economic development for his country. He and so many other amazing Ugandans have taken the things that would have destroyed them and turned them into a culture for helping others.
The stories are unending just as suffering and violence around our world are unending. Let us pray for those who daily experience the pain of oppressive governments, famine, disease, and afflictions even as we give thanks for God’s mercy.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Joseph’s strong witness of your faithfulness and love. We pray for all those suffering around the world from oppression and violence. May your peace and protection be given and may we be faithful in our prayers and our support. In Christ’s name I pray. AMEN.