The Voice of Hope

Blanketed by moonlight and shadowed by stars, I read poetry aloud around a campfire a few nights ago.....my body was there, but my mind drifted. I will be leaving in 18 days. In less than three weeks I will return to the continent of my soul - and I remember Congo. I remember the last night we were there, Pastor Kivi said, "You take with you our hearts because we have given them to you. We ask you to leave yours here.....so that you will return one day." He knew. He knew that the fighting, the fleeing that is present today in Congo - now responsible for over 250,000 refugees - would come again. And it did. He knew because he has lived it off and on all of his life. Those we were closest to in Goma are no longer there. They have fled along with the rest of the 250,000 - but, thankfully, in much safer surroundings.

So my drifting led to praying and my praying led to writing and my writing led to reading.......reading past blogs that I wrote just weeks after returning. This one in particular spoke to my heart. If I would have known what the future would have held as I typed this letters making up these words, I dare say I would have shed more tears. Tears that I will no longer (and will unlikely ever) apologize for. Be that on a stage speaking or in Fido telling their stories. Are they not worth my tears? Am I too prideful to shed them? No - not anymore. So I share this with you - to pass along a promise I made in my heart when I left Congo - To Go and To Tell...to tell their stories. To be their voice. And I will.....for their stories are more than worth telling, their hearts more than worth healing, and their lives more than worth saving.

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The Voice of Hope July 1st, 2008

Sitting outside tonight.... listening to the dogs playing, the tree frogs singing, the train whistling Dixie in the background - I realize many things. Being alone with your thoughts can be a different world. A world that many refuse to go to simply because it is vulnerable, and it is frightening, and it is beautiful. There is revelation there.....I wonder, how can that be a bad thing?

Having the first good run this evening since my return - much was revealed. I felt as if I was symbolically running from something that I could not get away from. Maybe because I wasn't supposed to. I told a friend on Sunday that I felt God had pulled back a curtain while I was in Africa to reveal a different level of hopelessness that I didn't know existed. The type of hopelessness that only Heaven could heal. They cannot really hope for things to get much better....for fear of sounding harsh, I must be real. Will the violence, the violation, the poverty, the corruption stop? Honestly? No. Will it get better? I hope so - I think so - I must believe so. But do they hope for such a thing? They must. But I wonder....

I honestly think they are so worried about survival that they often do not stop to hope. Or maybe they hope cautiously. Or maybe they hope desperately. I think often - they are just focused on Survival - Making it - Keeping their head above water. Pressing On - that takes presidence. But I have realized this: Hope of Heaven is so much sweeter when the reality of life is Hell. Hell is a strong word to use. Maybe I should say "Hellish." Ironically - that was one title of Ben Affleck's documentary about Congo: "They are in a living hell." I thought about that as I was running....in a twisted way, hell is not so hellish if you don't know you are living in it. I think maybe that's how they survive - they know no difference. They don't know what it's like on the OTHER side of the curtain - my side. Rape, Running, Guns, Volcanos Erupting, Abuse, Hunger - that is their reality. That is their stage. And somehow, it is in knowing nothing different that a strange blessing lies. You know the saying, "If you are going through hell, keep on going." Yeah, well - they do. And I hope they continue to.

Heaven will be so much sweeter to them than we could even grasp. Can you imagine? After living in this all of their life and finally getting through it.....finally able to rest in Sweet Peace? Having Him hold them for eternity....as they rest. I only wish I could capture their faces on the other side of the Gate : ) I want to meet them there. Washing their feet for the first 100 years or so - that would be such a blessing.

Lord, they are there and I am here and I confess that I feel I have left them there...in somewhat of a Hell. Here I am in my world of cush and comfort. They are there in their world of pain - not even knowing the degree of pain they are actually living in. Keep them sheltered - strangely, it is in sheltering them that they will become even stronger. Stronger because they have to be. Not being strong simply isn't an option in their world. They know no different and they probably never will. I pray on this silent night that you whisper to them the Voice of Hope. They may not be able to have the hope now of peace - save that of Heaven. But I pray that tonight....as they lay their head down in the midst of a refugee camp, a prison, a rock, a tiny shack of a home....that you give them a glimpse of a 100 year foot washing in the Marvelous Heavenlies. And that they smile. And, in thinking about that, so do you : ) Happy to volunteer as the first-in-line foot washer,

I am

Yours, b