Writing blogs in itself isn’t hard; it’s starting the blog post that is actually the hard part. Because the first paragraph sets the tone for the entire post, outlining what I will address in the next few paragraphs and setting the tone for overall feel. Well friends, I need to start out with honesty. There is no possible way I am going to be able to cram the last 26 days of my life into this post. There is no way to go over everything I have learned, the people I have fallen in love with, and the way my heart has been shattered on a daily basis. I live with 63 people and am experiencing beautiful and authentic community and I am learning what it means to love God and love people. I am growing up. I am falling in love with people and I am learning more and more dance steps every day. I am going to try and make it short and outline some of the paint points of what Jesus has been teaching me.
26 days ago I got on a plane destined for San Diego and literally had no idea what I was getting myself into. I’m not going to go deep into Invisible Children but know this folks, this organization has changed the way the world views justice and is continuing to make monumental strides on the grand stage of international justice. I am humbled beyond belief to be a small part of this incredible family of world-changers. I have learned so much about the programs that IC has on the ground and I can say with all honesty that I believe if Invisible Children didn’t exist, there is a great chance that the LRA would still be rampaging through Northern Uganda. (If you would like more details, shoot me a Facebook message or email, I would love to chat about it… but for now that’s all I will say.) I have never before been more sure that I am where I am supposed to be. Jesus has made it clear this is where He has me. In just under three weeks we will launch for tour and thus will begin my three month road trip adventure. We will travel to nearly a hundred different high schools, colleges, middle schools, and places of worship to present our cause and to desperately plead with people to open their eyes to injustice and to be a voice for the oppressed. This is the year of justice. Get ready.
With that all being said, I also have had an incredibly hard month, maybe the hardest month of my life. There are many reasons for that, the main being that each day I feel like my heart is being broken a little bit more. Every day I have to call people to ask them to help us set up a screening and I have to listen to people ignorantly tell me their not interested. There is a huge chasm in my mind when I hear people say that they’re not interested in justice. Especially when it’s a church. Day in and day out I am explaining to people the conflict in Central Africa and how simple it is for us to get involved by just raising out voices to our government about helping our fellow man. I plead with them over the phone, trying my very best to describe the faces that I have seen and the death that literally keeps my awake at night. The fact that we live in a broken world has weighed heavily upon me the past few years since walking with Jesus but these last 26 days have driven that nail deep into my chest. We have had hours upon hours of training about the conflict and the history of the LRA and of Joseph Kony and the images and stories whirl around in my mind constantly. Millions of people have been displaced, thousands and thousands dead and so many more children made to fight as child soldiers and used as sex slaves. It’s simple in my mind, so painfully simple… this has to stop. Why isn’t that simple to others? To the church? Truly, even as I am sitting here in this coffee shop writing this, I feel like some one is punching me continuously. Evil is real. I have no doubt and that both terrifies me and teaches me something very important. If evil is real, then so is good. If darkness is real, then so is light. And light is so much more powerful.
In the last 26 days the most important thing I have learned to do is to laugh. At the same moment I am imaging Kony abducting a child and carrying him away from his mutilated family to the bush, I also see that same child after he escapes. I see him laughing and learning to live again because hope exists. I have seen passed the lie that since there’s evil and darkness, then I have to let myself mourn every second of every day. If I give into that lie, then evil triumphs and I hear to tell you with everything that is in me, evil will never triumph because hope breathes, and hope’s name is Jesus. I finally understand the words of Psalm 30: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed my with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.” My heart aches but it also rejoices. Jesus has given me another day to live and to dance, laugh, and fight with all that is in me for his deepest love, humanity. People. There are 27 million people who are slaves and have no hope. That is 27 million people I will be accountable to when I kneel before the King and give account of my life. I am covered by the blood and grace of Jesus but that is no crutch or excuse to stay to myself, it’s my glory to stand and to wave the great flag of Freedom. And to add onto those 27 million are billions other with no hope. Billons other that don’t know Jesus, some who have never even heard. Church, it’s time for us to wake up. We have so much work to do.
Last Saturday I was spending some time reading and praying and came across this prayer in Common Prayer by Shane Claiborne. It’s simple and beautiful and perfect for what Jesus has been teaching me.
“Lord to laugh in the midst of trial and to rejoice in the darkest valley is another way of saying, ‘our hope is in you’. Fill us with laughter and joy while we work for justice and strive for peace.”
That is my prayer. I am a living sacrifice and He has led me to justice and loving people. See, I have been reading over 1 John since I’ve been here and John seems to have a pretty different stance on living as a Christ-follower than the majority of us do. He makes it plain: Love God. Love People. There’s nothing else to it. Why do we insist on making it so complex?
I am so glad to be here in San Diego and to be learning like I am, and I am so excited about hitting the road here in a couple weeks (I’ll try to blog right before I go). But I also miss Fayetteville with an intense and deep hurt. Jesus is showing me what it means to love and live and to move. After I leave here and Lord-willing return to Fayetteville, I know I will miss this place and the people with the same intensity, and so on and so forth until the day my soul’s desire is finally met. And I know that I will question, I will fight, and I will writhe in agony over injustice until that day as well. But for now I will follow and I will laugh and I will dance with tireless hope because that hope is alive.
(If you’d like more detailed information on how I’m doing personally and prayer requests, etc. send me your email address and I’ll add you to my email update list!)