Sympathizing with Joseph
We read many stories in the Bible, but few stories that we read about God intervening into the lives of sinful people throughout history are we (as Christians in the 21st century) truly able to sympathize with. None of us have ever walked on water with Jesus, stepped into a raging furnace without breaking a sweat, or seen an entire sea split in two so that we can walk on dry land. However, during my recent journey to Uganda, East Africa, I was afforded the opportunity (though be it unwillingly) to step into the shoes of one of the great prophets of old, Joseph.
Many of us have seen the Disney movie, heard parts of the story, and for some of the more zealous Christians among us, might have actually cracked open that 66 book love letter to us and read the story for ourselves. I was not given prophetic dreams, nor did I interpret a dream for the President, and neither was I rescued from prison only to become the second most powerful dude in the land, rather I was nearly sold off into bondage by my brother. For those of you that are not aware, I have a Ugandan brother named Andule Simon, and he nearly sold me.
We were driving back from visiting a farm some 93 miles outside of Kampala, which is where we were staying, and we got a flat tire from the journey because, as has been our mantra throughout this trip, T.I.U. (this is Uganda). We stopped in a town and waited while our CSI Ministries escorts attempted to find someone to fix the flat. Dad, Simon, and I stayed close to the van while we walked around to stretch our legs from the long drive. As we’re standing there, a truck pulls up in front of us and around 7 people jump out to promote and sell an assortment of snacks and drinks. They were playing music and were talking to the local kids, getting them to dance and sing. While we are spectating the amusing promotion happening in front of us, I notice one of the girls that is a part of their team keeps looking over towards us. Which is nothing too out of the ordinary when Dad and I are the only white people for 50 miles in a country full of 34 million black people and Chuck is swinging his rope around, you tend to catch some lingering glimpses from people. This girl, whom is about me and Simon’s age, then walks over to Simon and starts a conversation with him, during which he keeps gesturing to me and smiling. After their brief conversation the girl turns to me and says, “Hello, how are you?” to which I reply, “I’m good, how are you?” she answers “Fine.” and walks away without another word. I walk up to Simon, whom I was standing right behind, and ask him what in the world that was all about, meanwhile Chuck makes his way over to us. Simon informs me that the girl had walked up to him and said, “Give me your Mzungu.” which I have come to learn is not an entirely uncommon request from bold young Ugandan women. He responded by asking which one she wanted, she gestured to me, and Simon said, “Well then go and talk to him.” She informed Simon that she was too afraid, to which he replied, “He is right there.” Then we had our conversation and that was it.
|Simon. Kole's Ugandan brother.|
Chuck however, hearing of this exchange offered his best fatherly advice that he could to Simon. “You were going to give him away for free! You should have at least got two cases of that pop they’re selling for him!” So like Joseph, my brother tried to sell me off into bondage to a woman that probably would have ruined my life, but unlike Joseph my father was in cahoots with my brother and was actually trying to get a better price. Ah the love of family! Also, like Joseph I was able to forgive my betrayers and we all have become closer because of it, I think. The best part of this story is the same thing happened AGAIN only a couple days later. A bold young woman shouted to Simon as we were walking down a street, “Give me your Mzungu!”
This trip has been an experience of a lifetime. I feel glad that God has so graciously intervened in my life that I get to be a small part of what he is doing throughout the world. He has given me a brother half way across the world that encourages me and prays for me that I might finish the race well. He has given me a brother in Christ that I got to start my race with. Nine years ago Ben Mclane and I sat in his house while his father spoke the gospel to us and I have not been able to get over it since that day. He has blessed me with a father that has radically grabbed ahold of Jesus’ words when he said go and make disciples of all nations. He has led me and shown me what a man that loves Jesus can do. God has given me a mother who supports and prays for me, and I will have to wait for eternity to comprehend the full gravity of the blessings and grace that have come into my life because of her intersession on my behalf.
In closing, God is good! He allowed me to experience the panic that comes with being informed that you are to preach at a church of a completely different culture in less than 15 hours when you feel that you have nothing to say. He has allowed me to be brutally humbled as a young orphan boy stands up and says, “God bless you for all that you have done.” God graced me with the experience of giving some snacks to children of extreme poverty, and in the midst of my musings of, “the problem is just too freaken big!” have him speak to my spirit and say, “You’re right! The problem is way too huge for you! And that’s the point! But Kole, the fact is my grace is sufficient, and I AM! You want to change the world, try abiding in Him who created the world, and see what wonders I will poor out through broken people like you.”
Soli Deo Gloria
(Glory to God alone)