Monday, September 11, 2006

As we entered the ACTION Gulu office , the Ugandan staff were already having
devotions. I heard them singing, and the words became clearer as I approached the thatched shelter,

“There is power today in the house of the Lord, Hallelujah, today, in the house of the


During our eight days in Gulu, I would hear this simple chorus of praise over and over

Again. These words would become the theme God taught me.

In November of 2005, my husband Andrew and I visited Jerry and Candis Bingham inGulu, North Uganda. Andrew and I went specifically to take pictures and video in tell the world what God is doing in Gulu. This region has seen war for 20 years in which girls and boys have been kidnapped and forced to become soldiers and child wives.

The kidnapped girls who managed to escape or are rescued are called child mothers. They have faced unthinkable abuse and fear during their captivity. Most of them have children as a result of being repeatedly raped. When they try to return home to the families, they face rejection. As a result, they result to prostitution in order to survive.

When Jerry and Candis started work just a few years ago, they saw the need to reach out and love these women. Now a group of Ugandan ladies work alongside Candis in the Butterfly Center and Home of Love. The support group for the child mothers now numbers into the hundreds.

Andrew and I visited the Butterfly Center on a hot Monday morning. I walked around to take pictures of them as they knitted, talked, learned to weave baskets, as well as reading and writing skill. Later that morning, they all sat together under big avocado trees, sang, and listened to a short devotional.

When they sang, they sounded like angels. It was so beautiful; I had to work hard to
choke back my tears. How could they sing so sweetly after the horrors they saw and experienced?

Lily asked me to say something to encourage them. As the women sang a few more choruses, I racked my brain for something to say. Me, a rich white girl from the suburbs of Chicago? What could I possible say that would encourage them?

Finally, All I could think was the verse in the Psalm 68:5 that says,

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Before I hardly finished quoted the verse, these women broke into shouts and clapped for Joy. More than anything, these women know what it is like to be defenseless. These women sing for Joy because God has taken their mourning and turned it into dancing. Before, they hated their children, and now because they know God’s love, they are learning to love them. In a powerful way, they know God as their Defender who loves them unconditionally.

I didn’t let myself cry that day, but I’ve cried a thousand times later. I have cried over their plight, but I’ve also cried for joy because they have Joy. I cried because visiting with the child mothers restored my faith in the healing and changing power of the Gospel. I cried, because for the first time, I saw in the flesh the woman at the well, the woman with the issue of blood, the widow whose son was dead. Without Christ’s love, these woman could never love each other, their children, and more importantly, God himself. This is the power of the Gospel.

In war-torn Northern Uganda, you will find a group of women who believe and know that

… there is power today in the house of the Lord..

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