CROWDS—Yesterday the district held the semi-finals in the soccer tournament at CSB, and there was tension in the air. One of the four finalists had been disqualified for using non-student “mercenary” players. This school had in the past threatened riots, brick-throwing, and other violence if excluded. So we went into the day praying that they would peacefully accept their suspension. More than a thousand people generally attend these matches, and we are all too aware of the way a crowd can turn from spectators to perpetrators, individually polite people suddenly angrily transformed in the immunity of group action. As we prayed I thought of the crowds yelling “crucify him”, and had a new understanding of the threat of the mob. Thank God in our case the school’s new headmaster eschewed the riotous behaviour of past years, and the day was peaceful. The finals (CSB vs. Bubandi) will occur Saturday, and the crowd could swell to several thousand . . .
SOLDIERS—Seeing soldiers is not rare in Uganda, particularly living on an international border. This past week in Bundibugyo some isolated rebel bands of the old ADF have tried to move through. Nothing has endangered civilians, but the UPDF has increased their presence, including guarding our mission at night. So we now have a dozen or so armed men patrolling in the darkness. In this case they are on our side . . . But still reminders that we live in a world of force, of political power, of instability, just like Jesus did.
WOUNDS and OFFICIALS and FORGIVENESS—One of our missionaries was riding a bike slowly and gently through Nyahuka on her side of the road when she was hit from behind by a drunk motorcyclist. Thankfully she escaped serious injury but still has a number of scrapes and bruises. Such an incident can easily escalate out of control, but thankfully this also occurred directly in front of the police station, so when the perpetrator tried to blame her he was quickly apprehended. It was still tedious and a bit nerve-wracking to be interviewed by the police and give statements. And wounds here frequently become infected and more serious. Like Jesus she was an innocent victim, serving others, but wounded by evil. And like Jesus she had the opportunity to forgive her wounder, as he came the next morning and met with her and Scott and apologized.
INJUSTICE—Today Jonah called all of the staff to a long meeting at the health center, for many issues, but prominent among them the way our health center is suffering because of district administration desire to see him pushed down to failure. The event that led to the meeting was that a “big man” in government called the driver of the hospital “ambulance” pick-up truck to take him somewhere, just when I was trying to send a newborn baby to the hospital for oxygen, and when the driver chose to serve the politician instead of the patient, the patient died. I was pretty upset about the whole sequence of events. To top it off there are rumors that all the money to run the hospital will soon be cut off from Jonah’s control and remain in the hands of potentially corrupt administration in Bundibugyo. We had a productive time of discussion, but in the end Jonah reminded us that even though Jesus was trying to do good He met with opposition from the leaders of the people. We prayed together for deliverance!
DEATH and MOURNING—A few hours ago I held another baby as her mother screamed, and confirmed that the infant had died while getting a blood transfusion for severe anemia (hemoglobin 3.8). This was the 5th child that mother had lost, and my heart went out to her in her grief. Death is an ever-present reality here. Pray for all of us to cling to Jesus who bore our sorrows, who suffered our wounds and infirmities, who passed through death for us.
We miss our families at holidays, and mine more this holiday than many others, since it is my Mom’s birthday today and we remember my Dad’s Easter death a year ago. But in the midst of that I’m grateful for concrete reminders that the story of Good Friday occurred here in our real world, and means something to real people. May you also see reminders of the story around you this week.