I am currently going through Jen Hatmaker’s bible study “Interrupted”. It’s written to the American church and she ask probing questions about how we as the church have neglected the poor, the suffering, and the “Judas” of our time. At first I thought this would not be a practical study for me to do, because well my pride…my pride telling me “Dacia, obviously your life has already been ‘interrupted’ and you are half-way across the world with the poorest of the poor and you see the neglected every day. You don’t need to do this.” Then I get slapped in the face with daily frustrations and a heart that is struggling to love the poor that I came to serve. I struggle with being asked for money day in and day out and begin putting up a very large wall. Daily saying words in my head that I know shouldn’t come out due to cultural differences and the slowness of the culture I live in. Instead of treating everyone in front of me with the same treatment of grace, mercy and love, I pick and choose based on what I think of them and if they will be thankful, not demanding, and will put to good use the resources we provide them.
So, actually, this study was for me, sitting here in Uganda and not on my couch in America.
1 Corinthians 12:27 “Now I am the body of Christ.”
“Doesn’t this concept of being broken for others ring true? It’s a spiritual dynamic manifested physically. Why is it so exhausting to uphold someone’s heavy, inconvenient burden? Why are you spent from shouldering someone’s grief or being an armor-bearer? Why is that lifting someone out of his or her rubble leaves you breathless? Because I am the body of Christ, broken and poured out, just like He was.”
Mercy has a cost: Someone must be broken for someone else to be fed.- Jen Hatmaker
When I read these questions, I felt like she had spent the week with me.
The burden I am carrying: 57 children who are wondering why they have been left behind? Why don’t they have family? Having to look at those who work for me and say their salary hasn’t come yet. I don’t know how they will feed their children until it comes. I have NO idea what it’s like to have absolutely no money or resources to survive on, yet I have to look into the faces of those who do, and it falls on me to provide. Who’s grief am I shouldering? A little baby who has no idea what hate is and is full of ignorant bliss and happiness to know one day the hurt of knowing that no one in her family wanted her. That her aunts believed she deserved to die because she killed their sister in childbirth. My heart is overcome with grief that this little girl will not know her birth mom because of a simple complication in birth that took her, but could so have easily been fixed if the healthcare was decent. Why am I breathless? Because last week I felt like I couldn’t do enough, daily I had people look me in the eye and desperately ask for help and I had nothing to give- emotionally and physically.
I honestly didn’t want to be the broken for someone else. I just wanted to put up my walls and hide. I wanted to look at everyone who asked for money and scream, “Just because I am white, doesn’t mean I am an endless supply of money”. I wanted to look at those who I know have had opportunities to rise out of their situation yet have not and say “you don’t deserve more help”. I wanted to look at that father and instead of me being slapped in the face, I wanted to slap him. I wanted to pick and choose who I wanted to bestow my brokeness upon, ones that I knew it wouldn’t be wasted on. That is the brutal ugliness of my heart.
But what about Judas? Did Jesus not know that there would be countless Judases that would take for granted His brokeness? Did Jesus pick and choose; only died for those who would appreciate and live out their lives for His glory?
So He tore me up. I could easily sit here in Uganda and think, “I have sacrificed enough…I have left my home, my friends, my culture. I have sacrificed what is familiar for the dirty and frustrating day-to-day here. Please don’t expect more from me. I depend on others for my financial support, which is humbling. I work 7 days a week. I bear the burden of leading so many without family. I don’t get to go on vacation without feeling guilty. So, I think I have done enough God. I am in such a better place than people who haven’t tasted suffering in a third world country, who haven’t put themselves in a place to even let their eyes see, who feel good about their church programs. But He is not comparing me to others, He is comparing me to Himself. And I have a LONG way to go and just like my theme, He has called me deeper. It’s time to go deeper. I have not arrived.
So as I am processing this and remember I have to be broken for someone else to be fed this week He has sent me opportunity after opportunity.
Here was my week:
Found two of our babies with temperatures with 107 and above…one was one that I am partial to the other is our newest and I haven’t created the same bond with, but both needed a mother’s love and care. Did I pour myself out for both or just the one I had a bond with and was easier to nurture?
Went out with our medical team who was doing medical clinics. After people are treated, if they aren’t Christians they have the opportunity to sit and listen to the Gospel in a one on one setting. This is not something I like doing. I am more a relationship builder and sharing over time after knowing they trust me and knowing for sure they understand the decision they are making. But He stretched me and told me to sit down and share the Gospel. There were two ladies that grabbed my heart and sharing the Gospel was easy with them and my compassion spilled out. The other was a man who immediately asked for money and my instinct was to go back to how I had previously responded…but He said, extend Grace.
After a long and exhausting day, I finally laid down and my eyes were shutting when my phone rang. One of our sweet staff was having a seizure and was needing immediate care by a doctor. Ashley (our nurse) and I rushed over to find her not in a good state. So, we rushed her to the closet thing we have as a hospital here and prayed she would be ok. The frustration of the health care here is beyond words. I have NO background in medicine but sometimes I think I could treat better than what they get. In the middle of our sweet friend suffering we found out that she had just lost her mom and her aunt, had been so sick and was having to work so much because of the season we are in. She had received a phone call that her dad was also sick and she was scared. Scared she would also lose the only parent she had left. So, we could take care of just the one that was ours and guarantee she got the best treatment, no matter the cost or we could also take care of her father, who we did not know.
You see what God was doing this week….I did. And I would have proudly told you, I think I did well in all of those situations and I kept what He was doing at the forefront of my heart and mind as I wrestled through this life that is brutal here some days.
And then there was another slap.
Josh and I went on Saturday to speak to our Secondary School leaders at a workshop. When we walked in this young lady was sitting in the front and I was confused as to why she was there. I didn’t understand why no one had kindly asked her to leave? As we sat there she just contented to stare at us and would inch a little closer every time I looked down. Here was my heart rearing its ugly head again…I could only see her dirty feet and skin that hadn’t been washed and it was very clear that she had a mental disability. So, I hear Jesus saying to my heart…here is another opportunity Dacia to go deeper into what I am teaching you. She is the least, the lowly and definitely the outcast extend Me to her. But I couldn’t. I was paralyzed by my own pride and just wanting to have one day where I can imagine things like this don’t exists and I can turn a blind eye. But here she was, looking up at me smiling, and all I could do was just smile back. It wasn’t a few minutes later one of our students came and grabbed her kindly by the hand and took her outside. I thought she was just kindly excusing her from the front of the room until I looked back and she had given her new clothes and was leading her back into the room. She didn’t sit her on the floor, she sat her down with her on the chair next to her and the rests of our girls.
OUCH! It has been a long time since I felt a punch deep in my gut of conviction and guilt. It was like Jesus knew I was wrestling in my spirit to not turn my eye to this girl who clearly needed acceptance and love and I refused so He showed me His love for her in one our students that I am supposed to be leading. They sat her at their table during lunch and gave her the largest amount of food. Now that is what it is supposed to look like, Church. I was humbled by those I am supposed to be leading, they lead me.
I will never arrive. How dare I sit here in Uganda on the “mission field” and think I have accomplished and have this down? How dare I look at others and think I am doing it better! He has me on a journey to go even deeper. To take me further out of my comfort zone and to love even those that I don’t think I can love.
Doing nothing is a blatant sin of omission. Jesus joined these at the bottom, the outcasts, and undesirables. And He has invited everyone into a journey of downward mobility to become the least.-Shane Claiborne.
Are you on the journey to become the least?