Tuesday, July 13, 2010

United In Prayer

One of the things I loved the most about the World Cup is how small it made the world feel. It truly was a blessing to celebrate “futbol” with others from around the globe, and to be able to celebrate together even when cheering for opposing teams.

Sunday night was the final game. All over the world, people were tuned in to see who would win the cup this year: Netherlands or Spain. I was no exception. I went to a fan park to watch the match on a big screen in Johannesburg with thousands of others. People gathered in this way all around the world.

They gathered that night in places in Kampala, Uganda, too.

My night ended in celebrations with new and old friends.

Uganda has a different story to tell.

During the final match, the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab, who is linked to al-qaeda, sent suicide bombers to two places in Kampala where people gathered to watch the match: an Ethiopian restaurant, and a rugby club.

I first heard about the blasts on Monday afternoon, when I heard through friends that Nate Henn of Invisible Children had been at the rugby club and didn’t make it. His death is a huge loss to all humankind… read a bit about him in this IC blog.

As news travelled, I soon learned through a blog posted on CNN by Thomas Kemper, GBGM General Secretary, that there were two UMC Mission Teams in Uganda at the time: One team (from Alabama) was completely unharmed, while the other team (from Pennsylvania) reported that 5 of its 6 team members sustained injuries (some very serious), though all were in stable condition.

This morning, we got a phone call. Due to Rachel’s connections to home and the Pennsylvania Conference, she had been put in touch with the pastor of the church where these missionaries are from. At the time we were told three, we now know only two, of the missionaries (a high school girl and her grandmother) were being sent to Johannesburg for “specific or higher quality medical services.” It took us all day to find their names and which hospital, but as soon as we retained that information, we made our way there.

Both are in ICU, where the medical staff are truly taking great care of them. They even let us break the two-at-a-time rule so the three of us (Rachel, Hannah and I) could greet them together for the first time.

It was a privilege to hold the hands of, speak with and pray for these two incredible women tonight. It is humbling to see their unstoppable desire to be of something greater than themselves, even when they have been through so much. Had it not been for the bombing, they would have made their way home today after serving in Uganda for the past month. No doubt, they are longing for home more now than ever. Yet that was far from the first thing we heard. What did we hear first?

Prayer requests.

Prayers for their three beloved Ugandan friends sitting next
to them at the restaurant, who did not make it:
Pastor Peter, Becky, and Francis.

Prayers for their only teammate who did not sustain severe
injuries, as she stays behind to bury their friends.

Prayers for their 3 teammates who also sustained injuries and were

still to travel to hospitals outside of Uganda
for further medical help.
(We have now received word that they are at a hospital in Nairobi)

Prayers for everyone they left behind: the church, children and

community they worked with and grew to love during the past month.

Lastly: Prayers for themselves: for healing, coping with
pain, for the difficult processing as they try to
wrap their minds around it all.

Their request is a humble one, and yet so urgent. Tonight I was reminded of what a very, very small world we live in. I am grateful that our God hears our prayers, no matter how great or small the world feels. I am grateful for this, and for opportunities to laugh together at a bedside as we decided that the prayers of the children they left behind are probably reaching the ears of God long before ours: there is nothing like the faith of a child!

These are two women of tremendous faith, and no doubt their intense prayer and love for others have sustained them. Wont you please join me in praying with and for them?

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