In the summer of 2007 I had the privilege of taking a trip to Kampala, Uganda with a group of students and leaders from our youth ministry. On this trip we experienced and felt many things that we could not have in the US. With 21 million people in its city, Kampala faces a 95% poverty rate we often faced images and human suffering beyond description.
We also faced what the term “joy” truly meant. For a US citizen the term joy is almost always associated with fun, pleasure, immediate gratification. However, as we partnered with the local church (Gaba Community) and one of the local orphanages (Bethany Children A.R.M.) we were reminded of a more biblical “joy”. The ability to find peace in who we were, not what we owned, or what we could do for someone. Day after day we ran into people young and old whose confidence was in their creator and who He had them to be in Christ. In the midst of whatever circumstance they faced, they knew one thing for sure; their hope and their joy remained, because it was in Him who is unchanging.
One of these experiences happened one day when we stopped by the daycare program for Gaba Community’s local families. We actually happened upon these little ones on our way to another program for their high school students, and knew we would have to stop back by to see them. As we approached this gated area with the 3 small classrooms, little ones began to be filled with wonder as all of these “white” men and women approached. Their teachers reassured them, and very quickly we were accepted as part of their group. As we played with these 1-4 yr olds, we learned of their stories, many of which were heart breaking, and the knowledge that their only true love came from their care givers each day, as their parents often were HIV victims or street people, that allowed the church to care for their little ones. About an hour later, it was time for these precious little ones to move on to their next part of the day, which meant out of respect for their teachers we needed to say goodbye. To our surprise, it turned out leaving these little ones became a much tougher task for our soul, then when we left the orphanage days later. Uganda does a lot of incredible work in the orphanages, but that topic is for another time. We were leaving children which beyond their care at Gaba, we were not sure what they would face.
A few days later, we were on a plane back to America. As we reentered the worlds we lived in, each of us fondly remembered out little friends at the Gaba Daycare center. About 6 weeks after our trip, a friend of mine and his father took a trip to Uganda and visited Kampala. When they returned, my friend Joey began to show me the photo book he had created from his trip, I enjoyed seeing similar faces to the ones I had met not long before. My joy turned to tears about half way through the book, which caught both Joey and his dad by surprise. There in front of me were a couple pictures of the little ones at Gaba Daycare. I knew their faces, as sure as I knew my own. As I regained my composure, I began to bombard both of them with questions. “where did you get these pictures?”, “how did you meet these kids?” , “did you get to spend time with the folks at Gaba Community?”.
I was reminded once again that the world is a much smaller place than I perceive it to be. There are 21 million people in Kampala, and many groups of believers my friends could have met to encourage. And of all of them, they met with Pastor Peter, from Gaba Community, and my little friends from the Daycare.
That story is one of many in my life that reminds me how small the world is really. Each person I make contact with, each group of humans that I end up on public transportation with deserve every bit of Jesus that I can live out. For we never know as believers, what God has planned for tomorrow, through what we have lived out today. It could be that the people that we have ignored on a plane, bus, or in line at the grocery, maybe a connection that the Father had intended for His purpose. In God’s Kingdom and in His viewpoint, the east shores of China, are not nearly as far from the Starbucks I am sitting in as I have made them out to be.
Before your day ends, may the Lord show you how small the world is really, Selah…