Friday, November 27, 2015

The Rain Couldn't Stop HIM

I've heard it all day today, "the Pope is coming!".  Pope Francis is supposed to arrive this evening in Kampala and will be here for the weekend.  An extra million plus people are coming to Kampala just to see him.  Even at 6:30 this morning, the streets were already teeming with people who were preparing for the pope's arrival.  Schools were cancelled because the roadways are expected to be impassable even for boda drivers.  

I left this morning at 6:15 and found my driver.  Because it was raining, he was by himself and otherwise would not have gone out.  He stood under his awning and when he saw me, his eyes thinned and a smile grew across his face.  This smile was different.  It wasn't a smile about the few shillings he would earn for taking me somewhere.  This smile was an affirmation.  It was an, "I can't believe that you're going in the rain."  As he saw me coming, he put on his raincoat, stepped from his awning, dried off his seat and greeted me with great kindness.  "Are we going to the usual place?", he said to me all the while smiling.  "Yes, no weather will keep me from this.", I said back to him. "Sit mukwano (my friend), so that I can take you to do God's work.", he said back and with that, we were off.  

I began praying as I arrived at my destination.  "God, it's raining and You know that Ugandans won't go out in the rain.  How can I reach people if they aren't around, Lord?  Would You stop the rain so that I can minister to others?  The rain kept falling and I was foreseeing a wasted walk.  Lord, forgive me for this, because nothing that we do for the cause of Christ is a waste.  As I walked, many of my normal contacts weren't there, they were waiting out the rain.  The longer I walked, the more I wanted to catch a boda and go home.  I felt like this was going to be fruitless.

Then it happened, I heard my name, "Mr. Williams, why are you walking in the rain?!?".  It was Isaac, one of the boys who I had helped with the wheelbarrow a couple of weeks before.  Isaac, was away from his wheelbarrow and hiding away from the rain underneath an awning.  "Can you come here, Mr. Williams?" he bellowed.  I was already walking his way.  "Why are you on this stretch of road, Mr. Williams?  The pope is coming today and he will be on Ggaba road."  I smiled at him and said, "I'm glad that the pope is coming here, but I'm not here to see him, I"m here to see you."  His expression was crushing.  His eyes told me that he wanted to believe that he was that important, but that he'd had years of experience that had proved otherwise.  In my brain I kept thinking, "how can I show you how priceless you are"?  I told him the story of the prodigal son and how the Father looked for his son everyday.  I told him how the father ran to his son when he saw him and he hugged him even though he was filthy.  Isaac understood my story and we pondered together how unfathomable God's love is for us.  I bought a pineapple after promising several times that I would come back and see Isaac next Friday and tell him another great story like that.  No rain could stop today from happening.

As I walked further, it kept raining, but I didn't care.  I saw Grace (KCCA worker) sweeping and shoveling a particularly bad ditch.  I greeted her with a great kindness and then without another word, I stepped into the ditch with her.  She swept, I shoveled, then I swept and she shoveled.  We worked for a while together and the stopped to take water.  She asked me the same question, "why are you here and not on Ggaba, the pope will be there."  Again, I smiled and I told her, "Oli wa mugaso".  I'm glad the pope is coming, but I'm here to spend time with you because you are important.  Again, it was the same reaction, a smile that couldn't quite mask the reality that begged to differ with my statement.

As I arrived home, my heart was heavy.  I began to realize that in the short months that I've been here, that I'm fighting a systematic Satanic hopelessness that has deep roots.  It is far from a one man battle.  The need is so big and so vast that it will take the power of Jesus Christ to shatter it and loose so many from its grip.  At the same time, I was reassured that while the need is great, I'm not responsible for the sweeping masses.  Today, I was just responsible to respond to those that God put in my path.  Today I was just responsible to be with those who were in the rain.

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