I warmly greet you from Kitgum, Uganda. This obscure place, which borders South Sudan, has been my home for the better part of the last ten years. I am originally from New York. How does a New Yorker end up walking the red dirt roads of Northern Uganda, going into unreached villages, and integrating myself into the culture? Only God. I am nothing spectacular, but my God is.
When I first heard of a 20-year war that ravaged the Acholi people of Northern Uganda, my heart broke. I had just turned 22 years old and I was in Kenya on a mission trip. They showed us footage of what was happening. I saw people my age who had spent their entire lives running from rebels, displaced from their homes, or worse. While I grew up in America unaware of their suffering, complaining about trivial things, little children fought for their lives and were forced to commit unthinkable acts. There was so much suffering.
Why did I never know? Why didn’t our news stations fill us in? Why was I born in New York with good parents while these innocent children were born into a war they never asked for or deserved? These questions plagued my mind. I wept and prayed. I asked God if He would have me go and minister to the people.
I knew that if I went, I had to be called by Him and not just go based on my many emotions. I wanted to walk in obedience to the One who had touched and transformed my life. At the same time, I realized that those emotions were His heart pouring into me. He wept for what was happening. Through circumstances and open doors, God brought me to Uganda in 2006. The minute I got to Uganda I knew that I was home. Sure, I would always stand out and struggle through many cultural issues; sure, I would be lonely and feel like an alien; yes, I would sometimes want to run away. But the anchor that kept me here has been the complete confidence that I am walking in the will of God.
And on top of that, He has given me glimpses of His incredible power many times over. He took a shy kid and had me run a project, teach Bible studies to children and women three times my age, and He gave me the strength to endure getting tropical diseases and watching friends die. He taught me how to live and love in this place. I know for sure that God has used me to impact people, but so much more than that He has used the people here to break and change me. I will never be the same. Some of the strongest people I have ever met, some of the bravest and most beautiful, are my brothers and sisters, my friends here in Kitgum.
Their stories showcase the amazing and miraculous love of God on their behalf. In God Can, I share six of those stories. For each one there are so many more, but this will give you a glimpse into the hearts and lives of the people of Kitgum. I believe this book will encourage you that God is still in the business of doing miraculous works in people’s lives. Just as He has done in the lives of my friends here, He desires to do so in each of our lives. He is ever-present with us, especially as we walk through the darkest valleys. God Can will also challenge you to think outside of your box, your little piece of the world, to think about the Body of Christ in Kitgum and the world over.
For those of us who have grown up under better circumstances, may it humble and spur us on to love in prayer and practicality those who are suffering.
When we can’t do it, God Can. Please join me in journeying through the lives of six brave men and women who found this out through the most difficult days; who went from victims to more than conquerors through Jesus Christ.