This is not so different from my journey to Uganda, in that I went to seek baptism by immersing myself in the culture, and yet it was I who encountered the disciples in the people who are rebuilding souls and bodies, not only from twenty years of recent war, but from thousands of years of cultural rules very different from my own.
Now, transitioning to the Gospel, we are given beautiful, rich words, telling of the Holy Spirit. If to date I have been fascinated and mystified by the thought of the Holy Spirit, I have walked away from Africa with the Spirit inside me, knowing it will never leave. Why? In the gospel, Jesus says, ‘the spirit of truth….he will testify to me’. When I listened to the people who were working to build up the orphans who had lost their parents to AIDS, or girls who had been raped and bore children and then rejected by their families because they were an embarrassment, I felt the Holy Spirit in their desire to overcome the evil that has penetrated their society at many levels. I was invited by a woman, Mrs. Otim, who has adopted many orphans after raising her own children, to be grateful that the victims killed by war, were in heaven, and in a safe place. She bore the role of Lydia, in her unwavering testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. She invited me into her home and her heart, where faith and the Spirit dwell.
“...the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God”. John 16:4a
Being filled means the Holy Spirit will be there when we need Him. Does it also mean that we submit to one another? I see total submission in Africa where there is no question of how much and when to give it. To do the work that needs to be done, the Holy Spirit will fill those who are open to the invitation. Like Lydia, our open hearts will be filled and given back to those who are in most need. Upon our departure from Uganda, a woman who had been abducted thirteen years earlier by the LRA rebels, had just been released from captivity. Suddenly, tears of sadness shed by thousands of Ugandans, became tears of joy. The Holy Spirit was alive and well that day.
I reflect on the words of Mrs .Otim, “Once we reflect on our Lord Jesus' pain at which He was able to call on His Father to say 'Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing' is worthy emulation to do so. Giving of course is a prerequisite from our Lord's reflection that 'When I thirsted you did not give me to drink, naked you did not clothe me, hungry you did not feed me and when in prison you did not visit me' entirely meaning how we should treat each other in times of trouble and need no matter how little it may be, shall be counted worthy in God's sight. However how is the current situation in our hearts? A calling and a knock is at our hearts' doors. May a reflection in ourselves lead to that freedom here on earth and after when we face our creator.”
“I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.”
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