As a missionary, I believe my single most important role is loving on people. In Uganda, that can look like a huge variety of things on a daily basis: verbal encouragement or praise, paying for school fees, listening to someone’s story, giving someone a ride, teaching a truth from God’s Word, tight hugs, a trip to the clinic, or even just a cheerful ‘How are you?’ I just love the myriad of opportunities I get to love on people, but love that has impact must also be very intentional. It takes thought, planning, praying, and sensitivity to the Spirit. And when Jesus binds hearts together with His love, it’s an incredible thing!! But what happens when the person you so intentionally loved, doesn’t love you back? Or even worse, stops loving you?
Over last year, I developed an amazing friendship with a Ugandan family that I just adored. I spent hours in their home, sitting on their bed laughing, crying, cuddling their baby, trying new foods, and sharing the work of God in our lives. It was amazing. I had hoped and prayed for a friendship with Africans just like this my whole life. I learned so much from them, and I shared so much of my own life with them. I loved their children like my own, and cherished every opportunity to be with them. They welcomed me into their home, and I welcomed them into mine. They even came and lived with me for a time, and it was such a dream come true for me. But one day, everything changed. I discovered I had been lied about and lied to. When I confronted, that led to even more lies and deceit. In the end, the friendship was broken, and the family moved away. I grieved for months. I still grieve that loss. I loved them so much. I still love them so much. I miss my friend. I miss my children. I miss that sweet bond.
I wish this story had a happy ending. It doesn’t….yet. But I believe in a God of miracles. I believe in a God of restoration and reconciliation. I pray they will repent and we will be restored. I pray continually that even if I can’t see them again on earth, that one day we will be re-united in heaven. I pray for their healing, physical and spiritual. I pray for their provision and comfort. I pray for them because I still love them.
You might ask, was it worth it? Was it worth giving so much time, energy, emotional investment, and care, only to lose them? Yes. It was worth it. It is worth the pain now. It is worth the grief and loss, because I know Jesus has used every moment for His good purpose. Jesus Himself loved freely, even knowing the ultimate betrayal and loss was coming. If this is just one way I can join in the sufferings of Christ, I will rejoice in it.
The natural reaction to pain is protection. When we are hurt by someone, we naturally curl up into a ball and try to protect ourselves from that kind of pain ever happening again. It would be only natural for me to shy away from investing my love into others like that again. But I thank God that there is nothing natural about His love. His love defies logic. His love breaks down walls. His love empowers us to act in ways impossible for our weak natures. His love relentlessly pursued me in the face of rejection and fear, and I know it is that same love that He will continue to pour out through me to others.
Please pray for this precious family. Please pray for me. Please pray for the power of the love of God to have its effect. I know He is at work!