Listen to news and we hear of floods, fires in refugee camps, people fleeing homes, conflict and wars, friends dying of cancer… Often we ask, “Where is God?”
Today we are reassured that He is present, maybe just not in the way we expected. He comes with humility….quiet, in the ordinariness of life. EG. riding on donkey to his birth in a cattle shed…. Riding in as King on the back of a donkey! Hardly a steed! But that’s Jesus for you….choosing the unnoticed,
Again and again we find Jesus turning up in unexpected places and ways that upset the status quo. Finding the guy in the tree – no-one else wanted to know him, in the midst of the diseased, talking to an outcast, knowing when to meet her – out of his way. He is a King who instead of snapping fingers – on knees washing stinky feet. He is the surprising, seeking, serving King
In today’s reading – 2 heroes – of course Jesus the ultimate hero but also reflect on the donkey…dare I ask…are you a donkey? See the cross on its back; humble, hardworking, smelly, often unnoticed donkey…carrying the King
I am remined of a photo from water tower in middle of Kakuma
Desert at the camp for refugees. It was built to hold 80,000 people. Now it has 180,000 people living in it! It is a hard life – every hut has story of loss, grief, people left everything, yet, God is here…..through you!
People have been forced to flee, women and children making dangerous journey…unimaginable …and yet God present. A woman I met was pregnant and gave birth in flight and named the child ‘Asanda’, which means thanks be to God’. She as grateful for life in the midst of loss.
Lutheran kindness welcomed her into safe refuge at the camp and it is where love comes to life.
Let me take you into the camp. This is Regina’s story: The question was, “How is Jesus in the war and a camp cooking kitchen?”
“Life was good in Sudan – best place to live
Then war began – bombs dropping – spoiled everything
“If you ask me where God is, then I say to you that God is there even when the bombs come. We had to pray. No matter how many problems we have we must put God first.” – humbling
I have 5 children – 14 – 9mth + 2 step children
Children couldn’t go to school, saw people die
Long hard journey to camp – no food, walking, trucks with cattle
“God is the one who helped us get all the way to Kakuma…”
I am reminded of Jesus’ words, “I was hungry and you fed me”
YOU were there to bring practical help and hope to Regina.
She says, “I was very happy to see my children now have some food to eat. We were given buckets and jerry-cans for water, then a house. This makes me feel good.”
“I have nobody here at Kakuma, but I know that education is the biggest gift I can give my children. That is why we are here, and why I work in this kitchen.”
Regina shared how she had no money for the children. She wanted job. She begged for a job and then volunteered;
“My biggest priority is education for my children. I will do whatever I have to do, go wherever I have to go, so they can have a stable education.”
Now she has job cooking for 1-2,000 each morning
Regina did whatever she could. It involved personal sacrifice. We are hoping you can too – walking or volunteering….
Let me tell you about Elizabeth. Imagine being forgotten not just by most of the world, but also by your own family. Elizabeth was rejected by her family because she became a Christian when she was 12. Her life was threatened. She took refuge with other Christians, but could not go to school.
“At 20 I was married for 5 years, but then my husband was shot and passed away. It was the war. “
“I had young children and felt unsafe from my father. I made the long journey with them to the Kakuma refugee camp. On the way I was robbed. I arrived at the camp with nothing but the clothes I was wearing. I could not speak English. I felt alone. I lived in a tent for 7 months.
I had to make 1200 mud bricks to make my house. Life was hard. After some years I joined a course run by LWF to become a primary teacher in the camp
I kept thinking of those orphans who had no parents and wanted to help, remembering how my children felt. I wanted to give them a chance for their dreams. I am thanking God for caring for me.”
Through ALWS you have been part of Elizabeth’s story who now passes on your help to others in the camp, especially the many orphans.
There are people feeling forgotten by others but no by you….through your kindness you humbly bring hope, healing and practical help to many…seeing the love of Jesus now flow on to others.
And where does God turn up for a young girl like Mugisha?
Mugisha was orphaned by war. She was in the camp, defiled in her journey there, wandering streets. She was a lost soul.
But God turns up in childless pastor and wife in the camp -compassion and through YOUR kindness are supported to care for these girls
You see Mugisha’s life changed. Healing and hope come to life
Light in the dark. The school brought this to her.
“Don’t forget those who are suffering, but imagine you are there with them” Hebrews 13:3
You are there with them…
Like the donkey – loyal, humbly, doing the tough work that not always seen, carrying the King and his love into tough or unexpected places through your Lutheran kindness…
Don’t forget those who are suffering….
So, we at ALWS have created a way you can do some imagining right here in the Barossa with the Walk My Way event on May 1st.
It’s not exactly enduring the extremely difficult journey that many refugees make, but it does give some sense of endurance [and sore feet – even though we get to wear shoes/boots!]
OR you can volunteer to be a marshal, cook some slices, pack brekky boxes, support a walker,
ALWS are passionate about sending children to school in the refugee camps – it’s not just about education, but healing, hope and preparing students for a future.
Having completed several WMW’s I can guarantee that it is a special and memorable day – for yourself and because you know that each step you take is helping to change someone’s life. I love this photo as we had one of the Lost Boys walk the trail with us.
Not only do you send a child to school for every $26 but you are also
- Repairing classrooms,
- Providing desks and books
- And helping to train teachers [who are refugees themselves]
- And help young mum like Elisabeth go to Accelerated classes….
It moved me when I visited Kakuma in 2019 to hear Bhan’s story –
“When war broke out in my area in South Sudan, I was with my mother, father and siblings. One night the soldiers came and attacked us.
There were mass killings in my area. Everyone ran. My older brother and I ran into the night. We didn’t know what happened to the rest of our family.
The next morning, we had nothing left, just the tears in our eyes.
Luckily there was a school here and I could attend. I worked hard and finished secondary school with high grades.
It was hard as I had no support.
Then I had to come and teach to make a living. I have been teaching here since 2018.
I enjoy teaching as it gives me knowledge and gives me hope and I am seeing people who have lost hope coming forward again in life.
Coming to school means that it is not the end of everything for them, but they can have some future. They have all lost loved ones but can now have hope because they know that people in Australia sacrifice to teach them”.
As Regina reminds us,
“I see LWF as like my own people, my family. I want to say thank you very much to the people who give. You really help us so much. There are children here who have lost their parents, but at the end of each day they have a plate of food because of you. God bless you. “
Jesus turns up in a pot of beans, a broken classroom, on a journey fleeing danger, in huts made of mud, in lives of those who’ve lost so much….because your kindness has carried Him there.
Hoping you can step out with us so refugee children can step into school.