May this story change me... may it change you too!!!
I want to tell a story... but I'm struggling a little.
While this story is interesting, I don't want anyone to hear it just because it's interesting - that would somehow be disrespectful to the enormous ways that lives were impacted yesterday...
Saturday night, a stark text broke into our home... a 10 year old girl had been raped by her step-father. The pastor in that community took the girl home for the night. But there was no rest.
You see, amongst the poor, there is often no justice... so the community will take it upon themselves to administer their own "justice".
This crime was bound to be paid for. An early morning - desperate call from our pastor friend... this man will be killed - please, can you help us find some police! As Brad arrived at the scene - only a few hundred meters from our home, he encountered an enormous mob of hundreds of men. In the front, leading the way were 2 policemen - armed with machine guns... and a shackled criminal.
The mob followed - chanting "rapist... rapist...rapist" as he was paraded through N'gando. The pastor was in the crowd, holding the hand of the 10 year old victim. Brad followed along - staying to the side - out of the way.
The mob made sure that the man was deposited in the cell at the chief's camp - many stayed, some dwindled back to their day.
The "cell" is just a corner of the room where the girl and her mother (remember, she is "married" to the criminal) are questioned about the whole story. Hours passed, while Brad waited outside - with mamas who were friends of the lady - children who had followed the crowd - men who were determined to see that justice was done...
Once the full account was recorded, the policeman came out. Brad had taken our car (which seats 5) down to the chief's camp - ready to drive the girl and her mama to the hospital.
The police informed him that he would also be dropping the criminal off at the prison.
So, our car carried - all together - the rapist - in the back luggage compartment. Two police, armed with their machine guns. Pastor. And mama with her baby girl who had already been through so much trauma. (That's 7 people crowded in!)
When they left the police with their charge in the prison, Brad was asked to give fare for the police to get back to Ngando.
Now the girl and her mama were finally attended to. The hospital they went to is sponsored to treat rape victims for free... but the first thing they did was to demand 1000 shillings before seeing the girl. (This 10 dollars US may seem small - but it would have been prohibitive to this mama, whose rent, that she struggles to pay is 15 dollars). Brad questioned this charge - reminding them of their claim of philanthropy and they immediately dropped the charge. Once again, we see the poor being left out - if there is no-one there to stand up for them, they don't see justice.
Mama was handed paperwork to fill in - the look of humble bewilderment immediately revealed that she didn't know how to read. Pastor gently took on the task for her.
And this story will go on...
A girl - wounded for life - may she find GOD'S love in this church that has so carefully reached into her pain. (Hatua is praying for a counsellor who would be wiling to walk with her and so many other victims in our setting)
A mama - now a single mama - struggling to provide - may she find hope in the GOD who saved her from an absolutely devastating place... may she reject the cycle of abuse and harmful men in her life... may she learn to read so that ultimately she can provide... (Hatua is praying for funds to launch a literacy program for desperate mamas like this one)
A man - whose life is now ruined by the alcohol and poor choices he had made up until now...
A community - who want justice - who want to protect their own - who need Jesus to flood each home.
A church and a pastor - who faithfully walk in the middle of this pain... who tirelessly stand, give, love, and long to see lives change - because of the love of JESUS.
Brad and I see it as a privilege to get to walk into these stories... we pray that we can be faithful... that each horrible situation gives us a chance to help churches gain credibility in their settings and position to disciple people.
I have no application... to be honest, Brad and I are still feeling that this is all surreal... right now, this story has only made me more determined to be faithful.... to keep perspective.... to focus on the eternal.... to love well...
(This little girl was a part of our Bible Clubs all last week!)