During one of the years we ministered in East Africa, the descent from heaven of the Glory of the Lord cascaded across Mt. Elgon in a blaze of breathtaking miracles. It was such a powerful Visitation that it still defies human terms to describe it. While we were enveloped in this consuming fire that overcame all who were there with a holy awe, a young boy appeared who would affect our lives forever.
His mother was a despised Karamajong warrior. From the moment she died everyone turned on her son, including his father and the Christians on the Mountain. Wherever he went, he was beaten. He rummaged like a wild animal through rotting garbage for all his food. His only bath was the rain falling on him. He was covered with dried urine and horrible filth from when he went to the latrine. After years of cruel beatings, he was deformed and couldn’t speak or walk. All this outcast could do was crouch low and shuffle from place to place, as he moaned like a wounded animal. Yet, underneath his marred, mangled body, was a heart that hurt with the same horrible pain that anyone feels who is severely abused, and they have no one to love them.
During a morning session, this boy crawled toward my harp and sat down close to me. When I glanced down, there was a horrifying agony in his eyes. He moaned in the most heartrending way, as if he were begging me, “Please don’t send me away.” Several agitated men walked toward the boy. But, I firmly motioned to them to let him stay.
Then, while I was teaching, he sat in the aisle, very close to my feet, and looked up at me with those same pleading eyes. This time I was able to kneel down in front of him on the dirt floor, hold his hands, and smile to reassure him, while I told the people in almost a whisper: “The love that Jesus talks about isn’t just for those we want to be close to. It also means reaching out to those who no one wants to love.”
I immediately sensed an angry resistance in the room from several of the men.
“We must love that way,” I continued, “or what God has miraculously done on this Mountain the last few days will not last, and that would be a tragic loss.” Yet, the believers continued to push the boy away. Whenever they stood up to greet one another, he reached out with his deformed arms, aching for someone to love him, too. Everyone coldly ignored him. Later that morning, when he tried to come into the room while everyone was eating, the men dragged him outside, threw him into the dirt, and beat him. No one would give him anything to eat, despite his mournful wails of unspeakable pain and extreme hunger.
That night, our team sat together and reflected on what had taken place since we had arrived on the Mountain. One of the young African men began to share:
“The moment that affected me the most this week was when Mama Ruth drew that boy close to her at the end of tonight’s session. The people stared at her with shock. All of us could see maggots crawling all over him. They knew he had terrible diseases that caused everyone to shun him. No one was willing to touch him, except to beat him. Yet, Mama wrapped this outcast in her arms and drew him close to her. The believers were horrified to watch this. But it was a picture of God’s love that the people of this Mountain will never be able to forget. I know, for the rest of my life, I will never forget it.”
When the days of ministry on Mt. Elgon ended, Barry and I hoped for the message of love to grip the people of the Mountain, and because of that breakthrough, there would be a drastic change in how the Christians treated one another, including the boy. We were greatly encouraged when a group of women who were highly respected in their tribe decided to adopt him as if he was their son. They united to be kind to him. When the boy came to our tent to say goodbye to us, the women smiled at him and offered him food. Someone had even given him a clean shirt to wear. His squeals of delight and bright, happy smiles made us all cry.
After several weeks went by, we received word from Mt. Elgon that the unsaved had danced in the streets when they saw the Christians loving one another. Many churches, and across the denominations, were growing. The lost were coming into the services asking how to be born again.
Then in August 2017, we received this message from the son of the Apostle of Mt. Elgon: “The Revival that began on the Mountain in 2006 when you came is still happening. It is still very strong in the churches. People are still testifying about what God is doing because of what you taught us about love.”