“In the beginning…the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2, ESV).
“I don’t know how to do this. I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this. It’s just too much.” Spilled the rushing words of one of my dearest friends in the world, sputtered between heaving tears at the end of a long, wet day of slugging through the deep, deadly waters and debris of Hurricane Harvey.
“I’ve been on the phone ten times today with my elderly parents trying to help them evacuate the murderous squall of Hurricane Irma before she catches up to them.” These words came to me yesterday from a close friend in South Dakota, trying to help her parents from 2,000 miles away.
“Mama Kimberly, so many orphans are lining up outside our gates begging for shelter from the rising waters. There is no place for them to go and I do not want to turn them away, but I need HELP! The high winds and hard rains have torn the roof from one of our boys dormitories so we’ve doubled them up two-by-two into one dorm. The waters have collapsed our grinding mill storehouse and rises above our wells. Next, will be the cholera outbreak as waterborne diseases flood all our wells.” James Lual Atak, indigenous director of New Life Ministry, to me yesterday.
Last night as I lay sleepless in bed, I found myself wondering, “Does God still hover over the face of the waters?” and “If so, can’t He stick a mighty finger down in the water to sweep them away or at least calm and clean them—or lift the helpless out of them?”
My ponderings brought me no peace. Instead images of our children fleeing the rising tides of unprecedented floods in Sudan and South Sudan—striking all three of our orphanages floated through my mind. The more I dwelt upon those images, the smaller and more helpless I felt. The more helpless I felt, the angrier I grew. Sleep always runs from anger, while tossing and turning become its contemptuous bedfellow.
Shucking the sheets that bound me like a seaweed wrapper rolling up its sushi catch, I went outside to find the first comfort of a restless night. Not words, but rather a full moon beaming down upon me. I immediately remembered my place in the universe; mine is not to question “why?” but rather to answer, “Here I am; use me.” As Mother Teresa said, “I am God’s pencil.” God writes the story; God holds me, the pencil; I only have to be willing to leave the mark God wants to make.
Not long after the moon’s reminder, I returned to my bed and slept soundly for several hours. How odd is it that we humans—especially me—keep trying to grab the pencil out of God’s hands when we don’t even know how or what to scrawl upon the world. How we create our own suffering by withholding our lead from God’s divine grasp, which draws all things together for Good.
Having survived the horrid floods and cholera outbreak of 2007 in Sudan, I know what it’s like. I don’t have a mighty finger to calm or clean the water, but I can be the pencil that God uses to write this story. Simply telling this story holds the key between life and death for thousands of widows and orphans of war. While my heart breaks for my friends who suffer the toll of Harvey, Irma, and the countless other storms that batter the U.S., they all agree that we have beautiful response units and unprecedented infrastructure in place. Somehow these things remind us even in the hardest of times, we are not alone. My dear friend who called me from “Harvey Central” reported tons of goods being sent from every state in our union. Somehow, compassionate witnesses, givers, and prayer warriors make suffering a bit more bearable—and helps us to believe St. Catherine’s encouraging words, “All is well and all will be well.”
The worst suffering for a Sudanese unadoptable orphan is that there is no sense of anyone or anything hovering over them to breathe the breath of life into them. Sometimes the only thing that reminds them they are even alive is the relentless rains beating down upon them even as the rising waters threaten to sweep them away or infect them with choleric dysentery if they drink it.
When your government is the very one from which you must run, to whom do you turn? Perhaps this is why Jesus told His Body—the Church—and not Caesar or the government to “feed my sheep.” We are His pencils, and the skin of Hope for abandoned orphans. Make Way Partners is a small organization and cannot budget for all the natural disasters that may strike our children. This is another great reason our General Fund is so important, so that we can respond quickly to these urgent needs. It will take us at least $100,000 for this emergency relief work, including the digging of new wells in higher ground, repair our boy’s dormitory, rebuild the grinding mill storehouse, and construct new sanitary latrines (toilets).
Let us answer our call by being the divine skin that hovers hope over all God’s children. Please donate to our General Fund today to provide immediate-response mobility to the field work of MWP.
Love, your sister along the journey,