It deeply moves me to share this message with you.
It’s a story about what can happen to anyone a long time ago that can affect them the rest of their life. This damage can occur no matter what nation they grew up in. It’s emotionally crippling impact happens every day of the year in all cultures. These are some of the sad ways such terrible harm can happen:
Cruel words that crush something fragile inside of us.
Devastating moments we can’t get over and can’t put behind us. We don’t know how to find our way to freedom from the pain.
Seriously wrong beliefs we accepted that were not the truth. So they shackle the way we think in ways that rob us of God’s very best for us.
Betrayals by those we were supposed to feel safe with, by those we trusted to love us.
The story that follows is about this kind of scarring pain.
It’s also an account about a way to get free that is all about leaving behind us any horrible things that happened to us so that they no longer haunt us. This is also a shocking story about people in an isolated tribe on a remote mountain. The details of their suffering are not universal to mankind. But the immensity of their searing pain can happen anywhere across the face of the earth.
Yet at the same time it’s a remarkable story about being liberated from the seemingly impossible. It declares a message of hope for all of us who have ever endured horrendous pain and ache to be set free. As I share it, I do so with my earnest prayers that what follows will minister life, comfort and healing to many as they read it.
Barry prepared a challenging message on marriage to teach in the Church of Uganda on Mt. Elgon in 2008. But before he began to speak, I let him know I needed to share a few words. Then with urgency in my voice, I said to the people sitting stiffly and silently in the pews:
“Come. Kneel in the presence of God.
Lift your hands to heaven.
God will visit us with His holy presence as
you worship Him with all your souls.”
Shock waves rippled through this staunchly conservative church when everyone instantly came, fell to their knees and began to weep.
Soon the sanctuary echoed with their heartrending worship.
Later Pastor Stephen explained to us:
“You have no idea what just happened in there. It’s unheard of that the men would come and do as you asked. What you need to know is they were crying because on the Mountain they not only do female circumcision. They also do it to boys when they are fifteen. They are only considered a man when they clench their hands on a stick and hold it high above their head while they are publicly exposed and circumcised with a crude knife. If a boy makes a sound or drops his arms, he used to be instantly speared to death. That is what would have happened to me if I had moved or cried. I would have been killed. But now due to a law in Parliament, this practice is outlawed. Consequently, if a boy makes a sound or lowers his arms, he may not die. But he’ll never be considered a man for the rest of his life because of his moment of weakness.”
Barry and I winced at this gruesome reminder of the darker side of life on the Mountain while Pastor Stephen continued:
“These are the same men who were crying at the altar of the Church of Uganda. A long time ago they vowed they would never raise their arms again unless they were so angry they were going to kill someone. Yet they did that to worship God for the first time this morning.”
He shook his head with awe and added emphatically:
Then Barry’s teaching on marriage went right into their hearts. I tell you what he spoke touched every family and every marriage in that place.
His words revealed the terrible things being done to the women. Such bold honesty about how women are being so horribly mistreated is going to affect the entire mountain.
Many women will find comfort and healing in their hearts because for the first time they heard how God feels about them and how He wants them to be treated in their marriage.”
The next meeting was going to take place the next day. But due to the resources for us to go to Mt. Elgon coming to us at the last possible moment, word didn’t get out to most of the people that we had arrived until the day we came. Yet as soon as they heard this news, they left whatever they were doing and came. Consequently Pastor Stephen’s church was full that night.
At the end of the service, no one wanted to leave. They stayed and stayed, even though to get back home they had to walk many miles in the dark on dangerous mountain roads that were slick from the heavy rains. Many of them who lingered were from the Church of Uganda. Their countenances especially radiated joy and healing as they once again lifted their hands high and worshipped with all their hearts and through many grateful tears.
Pastor Stephen later explained to us:
“Many as they hear about the God who loves them so much He shows them mercy and heals are asking the Christians, ‘What must I do to be born again?’
This outpouring of miracles of healing that go deep into the souls and lives of my people is changing this mountain. It is bringing hope into horribly dark and painful places in their hearts.”
We were speechless when we went to our tent that night and overcome with awe of the Father descending upon the Mountain to heal the worst kinds of heartache and emotional and mental devastation. All the days of our lives we will never forget the faces of the people He healed with such a tender mercy and caring for how profoundly they were suffering.
As I pondered all this I marveled at these words that we saw God fulfill right before our eyes. These are radically life-changing promises that are for all people suffering with the worst kinds of devastations. They are each personalized because I felt profoundly that night how passionately God was speaking them to the lost and to His children in the nations:
“I never ignore those who cry out to Me for help.
For I am the Lord, your God, who tenderly takes hold of your hand and
compassionately assures you to not be afraid. I will help you.
I am always right here, wanting to heal you and to
restore you to health in the depths of your soul.
Even as you cry out to Me,
I will give you back your health and heal your wounds.
For I am your loving Abba Father and your Papa God who longs and aches
to heal your broken heart and set you free from your wounds.
And if I set you free, you are free indeed.
Please remember that in the places you’ve been devastated in your soul,
I was beaten that you might have peace. I was whipped that you might be healed.
Please remember that wherever I went,
I healed people of every sort of disease and illness and I am the same today.
And I am here for you to set you free just as I did when I walked the streets of Galilee
a long time ago! So please be comforted. Please be reassured that no heartache and
no crushing pain you’ve ever experienced is too hard for Me to heal.
I urge you this very moment to let hope arise in your soul!
Because I am the Lord who cares deeply and compassionately about you.
I’m always here for you, to heal you. I long to do this for you in My heart of love for you
so that you might be free of how all devastations have affected you.
And I yearn with all My heart for you to begin to live the fullness
of life I have planned for you since the beginning of time.
For I know the plans I have for you,
and they are only for good and never for destruction
so that you are comforted in knowing you do
have a future and a hope.”