If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17
As God continues His renewing work in Jamali Noah, we get to bear testimony of what we have seen, and share with you what is the unsearchable riches of His grace in the life His saints.
I try to meet with Jamal once a week for an early morning fellowship and Bible study. I spend so much time on the road between the three sites of New Hope Uganda’s ministries, that we are really only afforded this time once or twice a month. This week I was blessed to meet with him, and continue to hear of what God is doing through this man in the early days of his blossoming faith.
Shortly after accepting Christ and changing his life, Noah noticed a girl in his small village who was always alone. This 11-year old was fending for herself, completely abandoned. As he searched for more information, he found that the girl’s mother had moved to the village one year ago, and paid to rent a small room for one year. After paying the rent, the mother left her child and went home to a city near the northern border of Uganda and South Sudan. Since that time, the girl was finding how she could provide for herself.
With no means, she was taking food as she could find it, and she obviously was not attending school. Though others in the community knew of the situation, they saw her as a burden on the community and a thief. Noah felt compelled to act, and he did. He stepped up to provide food, get her enrolled in a local school, and pay for her school fees. He did all of this on his salary of roughly $50 per month. He couldn’t provide for everything, but even getting her in school helped to reduce her problems in the community by keeping her busy at school. The girl had also been attending Sunday school at our community church at Musana Camps.
Last week, things in the community finally reached a point of despair. Noah was at home washing his laundry when the village leader sent word for him to come to the trading center. When he arrived, he found the village had gathered and was in an uproar. At the center of the action was a man who had the girl by her ankles, hanging her upside down. She had been beaten and was continuing to be abused. The community demanded to know who was responsible for the girl. She had been caught stealing cassava, a root and a staple of the Ugandan diet. She had stolen enough for just a couple of meals, roughly valued at 500 shillings or $0.14.
Noah stepped in and accepted responsibility for her, and tried to calm the crowd. The girl’s rent had expired, and Noah’s landlord refused to accept that the girl should stay with him. Through some negotiation, he got the community to allow for her to stay just one more night, and then he would take her to her nearest relative.
Noah had started to develop a relationship with the girl, and this hurt him deeply. He searched the Lord, wondering what He was doing. He came to Musana Community Church to find help with the money for transportation to bring the girl to a town a couple of hours away, where she supposedly had a grandmother.
On Monday morning, he left early and helped the girl to pack her things. In the middle of the small pile of clothes was a Bible, and he was surprised. The girl was able to read, and shared with him that she knew God, and she was reading her Bible. Noah began to feel encouraged, but he was still nervous to find the grandmother. In Noah’s knowledge, families who receive back abandoned children typically respond negatively, as the children are seen as a burden being returned.
When Noah finally tracked down the grandmother, his expectations were far exceeded. As it turned out, the grandmother had been desperately seeking her grand daughter. She knew the mother was on a path to abandon the child, but she had lost contact with both of them. The grandmother is very old, but is under the care of her church which is providing a home for her and some assistance. She told Jamal that she felt the child would surely be provided school fees by her church. She cried tears of joy, and wondered what kind of man would do such a thing. In this area of Uganda, a woman might care for an abandoned child, but a man would never do such a thing. She celebrated Noah, and said from now on he would be considered a son to her, and that if the girl is ever married it will be Noah to give her away. The girl will be living in a village between Musana Camps and Kampala, so Noah will have opportunity to visit her. Of course, as Musana continues to host village kids camps, she will be invited back to participate.
Noah recounted the shock of seeing the girl beaten, the heart-breaking loss of having to send her away, the worry and concern for her reunion with her grandmother, and the amazing grace of God and faithfulness that God showed him through all of this. As we sat together to consider God’s word, we read from Colossians chapter 3. It is so rich to see the word of God coming to life before your eyes. Noah was reassured that he should set his mind on things above, not on things on the earth (vs. 2). He learned not to hold anger and wrath toward the members of the village because those are the very ways in which he used to walk, and because the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience (vs. 6-7). He learned the heavenly reward of putting on tender mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, and long-suffering (vs. 12). He learned to forgive the people who offended him, because Christ has forgiven him of even more (vs. 13). He learned to trust God even when things seem to be falling apart, and to allow the peace of God to rule in his heart in those situations (vs. 15). He learned that his testimony was further established by doing everything in the name of Christ, both in word and deed. (vs. 17).
God’s redemptive work is alive in this man, Noah. Through him, the lives of his family, this girl, and her grandmother have been impacted. The gospel is being multiplied, and lives are changed as a result. Hope is being shifted from false religions, idol worship, and witchcraft. The village is seeing a man who is set apart for the work of God, and I believe they will be convicted of righteousness by his deeds. God has used many men, and the ministry of Musana Camps and New Hope Uganda in the life of Noah. If God has used me in any small way in the life of this one man, it breaks me. How could I be counted worthy to be used of God in this way? Only by the blood of the lamb who takes away the sin of the world.