the least and the greatest

19 01 2012

My mind has been overwhelmed with thoughts the last few days.  Right now as I sit here I realise that it truly is a case of needing to know God’s peace in the storms. 

 

The least of the title refers to this child.

Who caught my eye on Saturday was we were driving to the wedding reception.

He caught my eye because this was his environment:

His parents/ caregivers were sleeping, and he was sitting completely alone beside one of the busiest intersections in Kampala.  Really close to the road (danger of crawling in to the road, petrol fumes, abduction to be used for child sacrifices – not an impossibility in Uganda…)

A feeling of absolute helplessness overtook me.  We were on our way to a truly splendid occasion where bucket loads of money was being spent.

I regularly ask myself, and God, what to do about beggars in Africa.  In SA almost every intersection has its share.  Many are able-bodied and I have hardened my heart to beggars.  The fact there is that so many have been offered full time jobs, an income and they prefer to be on the roads because they earn more money that way.   That attitude does not engender any sympathy from me. There are also those who take food given to them and throw it in a rubbish bin.  Children are hired to beg and abused in the process. One cold winter night I drove past a girl of a bout 12 years in bare feet, begging.  I brought along warm clothes for her and friends the following week when I passed that way again.  The next week she was back in rags – cold feet engender more sympathy. It is also not uncommon to find people who hire children to use them as a way to enhance the feel-sorry-for-me factor.  In SA begging has become a great psychological ploy and my heart feels little sympathy towards thieves and the greedy.

 

Here in Uganda poverty is endemic.  There are many who beg, and again I feel that those who can do something to work should be doing just that. 

But this boy?  How does one START to fix all the problems?  Parents/ guardians who are not really caring for the child need training.  Where do they live? The wheel chair indicates some physical difficulties. Uganda is not built to handle disabilities with sensitivity. 

At the moment there are just far too many questions to begin to unravel.  I pray.  I ask for direction.  And believe that the thing to do is ask God on a case-by-case basis how to give and what to do.  Maybe prayers for THIS chap, from you as you read this, can bring release from the spiritual bonds that hold the entire society captive.

 

My other massive issue of helplessness involves a part of the world that is deeply special to me.  Just a few weeks ago we were in Hoedspruit to buy a house.  (See the blog entry of African bushveld winning our hearts.)

Beginning on Monday Tropical Cyclone Dando dumped the same amount of rain that would usually occur in the best part of a year over this area in 36 hours.  In the wider area between 300mm and 420mm of rain fell in this time.  The devastation is huge. Parts of Kruger Park had to be evacuated of visitors, people had to be rescued from trees by helicopters.  Numerous vehicles (as well as trees, furniture and other heavy objects) have been washed away down gushing torrents.  These torrents were either dry river beds or teeny streams when we were there 3 weeks ago.

 

We sit far away and pray. And wonder. And seek information as best we can, but in that area of our house specifically water, power and telephone connections are all down. 

Some websites I have been referring to often reveal terrifying pictures:

http://www.krugersightings.com/

http://sawdis1.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2012-01-01T00:00:00%2B02:00&updated-max=2013-01-01T00:00:00%2B02:00&max-results=50

http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=67&t=58914

There is so much unknown.  There are predictions of further rain. Will any more dams collapse under the stress, as some have done? How much more water will end up in Mozambique, with its immense population?

When it feels so awfully overwhelming, I know Who is not surprised and confused by these events. 

Jesus holds all the oceans in His hands, and a few floods are not beyond His control.  In the storms Jesus experienced with His disciples, although He had different reactions, He never abandoned the disciples in that terror. Once HE calmed the storm.  Another time He came walking on the stormy water.  But He was THERE. 

I pray that those who are in the real floods, in a place so dear to me, will know God’s peace that passes all understanding.  And maybe you are in a storm, or the floods of life are raging. Or perhaps you are sitting, small and alone, in a big big scary world.

All you need do is ask.  There is a merciful God who is waiting to reach out, and be with you. Maybe the storm will not stop immediately.  Perhaps there is still a while of sitting and waiting.  But HE cannot fail.  And His love abides. Always.  There is no force of nature sufficient to remove His grace. And that keeps Him the greatest, above all else.

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