Man with a Reason to Live

By Ruth Johnson

The deepest longing of the human heart is to be genuinely loved. That is why the fundamental, inescapable cry of all people in any culture is, “Someone please love me.”

It’s also why when someone encounters sincere love and genuine caring, a miracle can happen that can change him forever because he’s no longer invisible.

He is seen.

He is cared about.

What affects him now matters to someone else and suddenly he has a reason to be alive.

No wonder Jesus told us that loving one another is equal with the highest, grandest, most heavenly sounding worship(Matthew 22:36-37 NLT).

This is such a universal need that the longer anyone lives without this love, the more vulnerable he is to despair. For in the deeply troubling absence of love, desperation increases with each passing year. As time passes by, the loneliness and emptiness can feel too painful to endure. Eventually anyone who does not experience this genuine kind of love is crippled emotionally in some way.

These are the people who make the most destructive choices in their sad quest to find what’s missing that is a need at the core of the human soul.

The tragedy is that this lack of healthy, safe, sincerely kind love is now epidemic among Christians. Yet that is not how Christianity began. Jesus actually came so that even if our earthly family did not love us, we could find this healing haven for our souls in His Father’s Family. That’s why He relentlessly talked about what this love looks like. It’s why He so bluntly warned us about what damages, even kills it.

He knew the ache in the Father’s heart for His children to find genuine love among other followers of His Son so that their devastated places could be made whole and they could begin to live the fullness of the life He had always planned for them.

In the beginning of the early church, this dream of the Father came alive. A remarkable kind of love exploded among the Christians. This so significantly changed the way they treated each other that even the unbelievers said:

“See how they love one another.”

Yet after 2000 years passed by, this kind of love that apprehends and transforms is now a distant memory.

Among many Christians it’s not happening at all. Instead, they hurt one another with selfish, self-centered failures to even care. They sadly inflict damage through words that judge, criticize and betray trust.

Consequently it’s shockingly common for Christians to feel desperately alone, even while in the midst of a group of believers.

The world watching all this now often says,”See how they hurt one another.”

Many Christians have grown so disillusioned when they are among believers they’ve given up on even trying to be with them. It just hurts too much. Some who became born again from a seriously painful past even struggle with a suicidal despair that torments them with a hopelessness about what Christianity is all about.

That’s why the plea of the Father as He grieves over His children is that His people would return to their roots in His Son. He aches for them to discover all over again the simplicity of the Gospels and the fundamental message of love that Jesus came and died to help us find.

Yet we can’t change others.

We can only decide to make the hard choices that change us such as resolutely deciding to be humbled, broken and deeply sorry for all the ways we’ve contributed to this tragedy among the Family of God.

We also can be so affected by these realizations and choices that we are never comfortable again going back to who we used to be.

When this kind of radical change happens in our own heart, then we become someone who can carry the Father’s kind, safe, unselfish love to those He wants us to be kind to for Him.

The story you are about to read is the account of a man on a remote mountain in East Uganda who grappled with this fundamental need of every human soul and how finding it saved his life.


voh-welcome-2 voh-welcome-1Our massive metal gate opened wide and we excitedly welcomed the leaders from Mt. Elgon to our compound in Uganda.

Then throughout the week the glory of the Lord swept through the compound.

That visitation from heaven affected all who came.

One of the most gripping accounts of what took place is this heartrending story by a tall, gentle pastor:

“In my village and in my church you can sit next to someone and it’s as if they’re 10,000 miles away from you. Even if you’ve known them for many years, there’s no closeness and when they speak to you their words are tough and harsh. Yet when I came here for the first time, everyone immediately is family. It’s like we’ve known one another all of our lives. This I’ve never seen before. I even had decided I wouldn’t come here with an open heart. But when I saw how everyone changed while we listened to Mama Ruth and Papa Barry teach about love and unity, I also changed. I became full of joy. I began to feel that if all families would love like this, the world would be like heaven.

On the Mountain this love doesn’t exist and many people want to die. They have so many problems. But no one cares. No one loves them. They hate themselves and they feel such hopelessness.

It’s very common to walk along a path deep in the villages and find dead men who have hung themselves by the neck on a tree because they couldn’t live another day without someone loving them. This is one of the dark secrets of the Mountain we don’t speak about to anyone.

I’m one of those men. I came here wanting to die. I planned on killing myself when I went home after this seminar. I couldn’t stand feeling so completely alone in my troubles anymore. But now I’m different. I want to live! And when I go back, I’m going to bring this new love to my family. Then I’m going to bring it to the hopeless all over the Mountain!”

The following morning crying filled the courtyard while the pastors waited to depart. Men were openly weeping as they told us:

“We have many responsibilities. So we must go back to the Mountain. We have much to do that lies ahead of us so that we can take to our people all that we learned here that changed our lives.

But we are also sad.

We don’t want to leave.

Never have we felt this way before. It hurts our hearts to say goodbye to you.

We also came here from different churches and denominations. Most of us hated each other as we stood outside your gate. There was no unity or love among us. We despised each other and looked down on the different denominations. Deep hurts and thick walls of judgment, at times deadly competition and hatred separated us. Yet the minute we passed through the gate of this compound, the divisions among us started to disappear. A unity began. We were all shocked by this taking place.

We will never forget how God changed us in this supernatural way. And we never dreamed that by the end of the week we would be so united, we would now love each other as family and we would rather die than hurt each other again.

We can never go back to our hatred. All we want to do now is keep loving each other and bring this love to the Mountain so that it can spread everywhere like fire. And when we go back we are also going to many people and ask forgiveness for hurting them.

All of this is a miracle.”

The pastor who no longer wanted to go back to the Mountain to kill himself was the most overcome with emotion. His eyes were swollen and red from his tears as he told us:

“I just found a family and now I must leave this family behind.
It’s as if we’ve been in heaven this week and I don’t want it to end.

I don’t want to go.”

Yet he did go back to the Mountain and when we returned to Mt Elgon a month later we searched for him everywhere we went.

rescued-manThen one night it happened!

Our vehicle slowly made its way up a treacherous road on the Mountain. It was dangerously slippery due to recent torrential rains. I held my breath when the driver rushed the van across a rickety bridge, while water surged underneath us.

After a long journey, we safely arrived at a church where the people had waited six hours.

Before I entered the mud structure, a man stepped out of the shadows to greet me. He was the one who planned on coming back to the Mountain to hang himself.

“How are you?” I whispered as I marveled at the happiness shining from his face. “I so wanted to see you so that we would know you are alright.”

“My whole life has changed,” he responded with eyes ablaze in a vibrant joy. “Everything is different now. I’m kind to my family. I’m also telling the people of the Mountain all about this love I learned. I’m so happy!”