Wednesday, August 06, 2008

An Ever Present Reality

The guest preacher unexpectedly turned in the middle of his talk and addressed us – the visiting missionaries – He said the Lord wanted to say 2 Corinthians 12:9 to us: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This man knew nothing of us. We were visiting the church where I had been part of a women’s multi-denominational prayer and study group before we went to live in Uganda. That was our only connection. It was the last Sunday of a six month furlough. I had expected God to speak to us in some special way. But what did this mean?

Of course it’s THE verse for all of us. His grace IS sufficient always. And always it seems we tend to live as if it isn’t. Why were we, now, in our fifth year as missionaries, needing to be told this? No more clues came, even when we were prayed for later in the service. The usual prayers were prayed which were comforting. The preacher said nothing more.

But out in the foyer as we moved in opposite directions, I caught a look behind his eyes. “He knows something he can’t say”, I thought to myself. I had a sense of foreboding. What was going to happen when we returned? Was there something terrible about to happen which God was speaking to? Why else would He insert such a message in the midst of a sermon about another topic by a preacher who knew nothing of our situation? I believed God wanted to get our attention and assure us of His care for us in the days to come.

We returned to our home in Uganda. There was a sense of unease about our compound worker. He had never liked the highly educated clergyman we had hired to keep our projects going in our absence, and, hopefully into the long term future. This man had always put him down, treated him, his own countryman, as a servant, while we, the white people, honoured him as a friend, and still do.

In a few weeks it was clear. Thousands of dollars of our funds had been embezzled by this man, without remorse. We fired him. He launched a hate campaign against us, twisting personal information into lies, inciting the hatred latent within the administration of the church we served, who resented our scrupulous management of funds on projects, not allowing them personal access to designated money. Now the people on the hill were split – our friends, the honourable Christians, were horrified at this betrayal, yet, having tried to warn us of this man’s character, in some ways not surprised. The others – well – they were almost envious that this man had got away with something they hadn’t.

The administration asked us to let them handle the “trial” of one of their own. We trusted them. It turned into a kangaroo court. We were blamed for the misfortunes that had come upon us. Hateful letters, ridiculous demands, violations of written agreements followed. Warnings that the man we had hired and fired was capable of much more evil. We had two young children. Our work was not wanted except by those who needed it and had no voices to speak. It was time to shake the dust off our feet.

We left Uganda three months after we had arrived back. Other missionaries said we were fortunate to do what we did – sell our furniture and vehicles, get out with our lives and thirteen duffel bags full of our prized possessions, mostly books. Missionary friends took us in locally while we cleaned up. We heard from Canada that the home we had bought several years before would unexpectedly be available to us within a few months. Our children were even looking forward to going to live in Canada.

Indeed, His grace was sufficient, moment by moment, day by day, week by week. And so it has been in all our days here in Canada, in the years since. Those who always loved us kept in touch. The new administration has invited us to come back anytime. Our daughters are now there visiting, being blessed by those who loved us. His grace continues.

That Sunday morning God spoke of something that we all should know and trust in all the time. Yet our unbelieving wounded hearts find it so hard to do. Yesterday I read the following words by Prebendary H.W. Webb Peploe, quoted in Streams in the Desert:

“God cannot make it any more sufficient than He has made it; get up and believe it, and you will find it true, because the Lord says it in the simplest way: ‘My grace is (not shall be or may be) sufficient for thee.”

3 comments:

Belinda said...

Wow, what a painful journey. I'm thankful for God's protection over you and that he brought you safely home to Canada.

The words, "His grace is sufficient..." how we need them, but you experienced them in such a powerful way, in such a dark and painful time, that their truth and reality shine clearly and truly.

Meg said...

Thanks again, Belinda. I wanted to write about your story too, which moved me. I think I even dreamt about going to a study group in your home and you were doing a lovely job!! We have just spoken to Sarah and Rachel a few hours after Rachel's arrival, so all is well. It seemed heavy writing that story, but somehow it keeps helping to put the stories out there..all part of the healing and growing...

Belinda said...

Dear Meg,
I was thinking about that story as I got ready for the day and thought that you had put in "a nutshell" a story that could be a powerful book. It left me wanting to know more--to step into that life, on a page, and share the adventure and the pain, as well as the victories for the Kingdom.

I'm glad for your dream! I've never felt quite as inadequate as I did last night, but you are right, "His grace is sufficient." Come to think about it--who ever said we were supposed to be "adequate?"