“Come listen to my story and go back to America and tell people about what is happening in Congo. Tell them about the tragedy and tell them that God is good.” This interaction preceding a story about yet another rebel attack. As he poured out the details I thought, "How do I even explain this to people in America? Will they even understand?”
This is real life. It's not a movie. This is a real person. This is his life. This story is just one of countless, but at least his has a good ending. His life was spared. He is alive.
I wished stories like these were uncommon here, but they’re not. One by one we hear of trauma, the type where you nod in understanding as they share horrific life experiences, but honestly everything on the inside of you is screaming of injustice.
As one person shares and then another and then another. As the child gets up and shares of bombs, death, and tragedy. I sit and I silently direct my thoughts to the Lord.
Dr-Congo. Rape capitol of the world. Ongoing war for over twenty years. And yet home to some of the most beautiful hearts I've ever seen. Hearts that have been betrayed, persecuted, mistreated, and yet persevere, and not only persevere, but forgive and love. There are children who forgive those who hurt their families, parents who forgive and love those who took their children as soldiers. What comes out of my heart when I hear that story? I cringe of the thought of my child ever having to share a story like that one. I think about if that were my daughter that were raped, how would I respond? Admittedly sometimes what comes is not grace, it is not mercy, it is anger, it’s a desire for revenge, and then…
I hear this still small voice. The One I've learned to trust. The One I've declared as Lord. The One my heart knows as Friend.
His voice whispers that "justice" is determined by God and not my emotions. Justice isn't punishment, justice is salvation. Justice looks toward the cross, not towards man. Justice demands Gospel tinted lenses. Revenge demands payback. Justice sees hope. Justice, God’s justice, is full of mercy. Justice moves us to action.
“Look at my servant whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged. He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth” (Isaiah 42:1-5)
You don’t spend much time in DR-Congo before you realize that God is molding you. He uses your experiences here to speak to you, to move your heart, to stir you, to challenge you, and to change you. I’m so thankful for this place. Here I truly feel that nothing is impossible.
You can go through a night of gunshots and then the next day visit a school full of smiling faces eager to learn. When you ask what they’re thankful for they respond with things like, “my school fees are paid, and I have the ability to learn”. In the midst of tragedy you find people so full of hope and life. When you visit a Justice Rising school you don’t find kids that don’t know how to dream, to laugh, to play, you find kids who are preparing to be the leaders that will see change in their nation.
I’m learning again. I’m a child again. I look around at these faces and their stories and I learn. I learn that in Him there is always strength for another day. I learn that in Him there is always hope for change. I learn that in Him there is grace. I learn that in Him there is forgiveness that goes beyond my comprehension.
Here I am humbled.
I’m overwhelmed again by His faithfulness. I am overwhelmed by His goodness. I am inspired and I am stirred. There’s so much more to share, but words don’t always suffice in times like these.
If you’re looking for a way to get involved with what God is doing in war zones I can’t think about a better organization than Justice Rising. Go check out their website and blog, follow them on facebook and instagram, consider partnering to help them build schools, sponsor children, rescue child soldiers, and see a nation changed. You can be a part. “He has told you what is good, and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)
Be Blessed, J. Tate