Grace is a universal message that feeds hungry souls, mends broken people and satisfies all who partake. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10
While in Uganda, I saw the simple power of the Gospel. The message is not complicated. It cannot be bound up with legalistic ties and cultural stipulations. The message of God’s grace through Christ’s death on the cross and the power of His resurrection is truly timeless. Simply telling people that “all have sinned and fall short” (Romans 3) and that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (John 3:16) to pay for our sins for all who believe was a strong message in such a dark place. After being in Angeltok, Uganda only four to five days, we had villagers coming in to our campsite and politely sitting and waiting on us to acknowledge them. When we asked how we could help them, they said that they wanted to know Jesus as their Savior. Hungry souls came looking for the message of grace. Oh that God would stir America and Alabama to hunger for Him so!
You are never too old for grace to overwhelm you.
At church on Sunday morning, I shared the message of grace on Mephibosheth, the crippled fugitive farmer living in a barren land (2 Samuel 9). Ten souls came forward for salvation. One was a 67 year-old woman named Nora. As I penned her name in to my prayer journal, I wondered how long she had waited to hear the message of grace. I wondered how many, if any, other messengers of grace she had ignored. I marveled that at 67 years of age, she was willing to make a life-changing decision that would be the best decision she could ever make. On February 16, 2013, she became a new creation. She was overwhelmed by the message of grace. Like Mephibosheth, she accepted the grace to dine with the King. And one day, like Mephibosheth, she will dine at the table of the King of kings.
Grace shouts God’s love in the midst of pain and suffering.
It’s fairly common knowledge that orphans are abundant in third-world countries. The mortality rate for adults is high. Parents die at young ages, leaving behind their young children. Sometimes, in desperation to help their children, parents leave them in towns and cities where resources seem more abundant, hoping that someone will care for them. Disease is always a problem in third-world countries. Uganda is no different. Bad water and a lack of sanitation bring about much disease and death. Yet, in this very impoverished place, grace shouts of God’s kindness. Some have accused God of not caring and they point to places where this great suffering as examples of God’s apathy. Bust most who declare such philosophies have never lived in or even visited such dark places of poverty and ruin. Every time I have been in such a place, I have found God and His grace clearly at work in the hearts and lives of people.
Damali Wattier runs Sonrise Baby Home, a grace distribution center in Jinja, Uganda. You can learn more about her ministry at www.sonrisebabies.com. As an orphan herself, she determined to help children who have no other chance to survive. She takes in babies who are very weak, sick and malnourished and through love and God’s bounty, brings healing, strength and laughter to the babies.
Even stronger to me was the grace that I saw at the Home of Hope just outside of Jinja. There, a woman named Edith Lukabwe decided that special needs children needed grace. She started a home for such children. (click here to learn more: http://sonriseministriesinc.com/homeofhope.html) Edith and her staff care for children who have multiple disabilities, who are abandoned and orphaned and left to live with older grandparents. Without Edith, there would be great suffering in the lives of the twenty-six children I met at her home. Instead, these kids receive physical therapy, love, attention, plenty of food and daily baths. The sight of extremely handicapped children is difficult to see here in America. But in a third-world country, it can take your breath away. Yet, while I was trying to process the crippled children, many of who were in braces and wheelchairs and strapped to apparatuses designed to help them stand straight, I saw grace. God’s amazing grace in six committed workers (nannies, really) and the physical therapist who has dedicated his life to caring for these children. Grace showed up in the poverty, pain and suffering. One lady listened to God. His grace overwhelmed her and now she is an overwhelming picture of grace. She is truly a pitcher filled with grace. Timothy, one of the Ugandan support staff members, shared in a devotional one night that we can be vessels and pitchers of grace if we allow God to use us on a daily basis. Edith pours grace out by the gallon day after day after day. So should we!
Grace overcomes curses through the cross of Christ and we can promise anyone who receives Christ to be free from the curse and all curses.
After the Sunday service in the Ugandan chapel, a lady approached our team as we gathered outside the church. In her eyes I saw much fear and anxiety. She told us, through Pastor Mark our translator, that her husband had been put in a prison for murdering someone and then was killed himself. A local witch doctor had told her that she and her family were cursed because of those events. She asked if we could help in some way. Can we help? Wow! Of course we can help! There has never been a curse that cannot be broken by Jesus Christ. He is the Great Curse-Breaker. The greatest curse of all was the curse of sin and its wages, death to all mankind. But the Great Curse-Breaker, Jesus Christ, rose from the dead and conquered both death and Hell (1 Corinthians 15). What a joy it was to share with her that if she would simply ask Jesus into her heart, believe that He died for her sins, she would be free from any curse. And she did. Grace wins! The next day, she brought all of her children to the school and asked if we could introduce them to Christ as well. Thank God that grace covers all curses for all ages.