God is present within the most beautiful and ugliest of circumstances, and He is inviting us to join Him in His work. Christine Stanfield, missionary in Uganda, writes about taking that step of faith, and receiving a unique gift from God during this past Lent and Easter season:
And this year, as Lent was soon to begin, Christ quietly invited me to go into a whole new place with Him. I admit that I was reluctant at first, saying within myself that I hoped I didn’t have to go. I didn’t really want to partake of that particular “cup.” I was willing to let it pass. But the more I listened to Christ, the more I knew He was inviting me to join Him there…and how could I not?
And so it came about that I found this year’s Easter gift from my loving Heavenly Father within the boundaries of a local hospital in Kampala. Within that place I saw some of the best; surgeries that corrected deficiencies, loving care that brought smiles to faces and hope to hearts, resources used in appropriate and timely ways, drugs “curing” illnesses and satisfied clients heading home.
Within that place I saw some of the worst; horrible wounds that will leave inner and outer scars forever, malnourished children crying with hunger, weeping mothers, babies with burn injuries and family members heading home without the loved one they left in the morgue.
I experienced a wide range of emotions throughout my weeks of orientation in the hospital. I enjoyed “doing nursing” again. I felt desperate for God’s intervention. I longed for relief for myself and my clients when the situation was difficult at best. I felt peace in God’s Presence throughout it all. I felt angst when others didn’t seem to sense the urgency for intervention that I did. I felt anxious while trying to get a venous catheter into a child’s vein. I felt profound sorrow as others experienced loss. I felt a sense of pride when I successfully placed the first IV I have inserted in years. I felt overcome with love for my Saviour as I heard the choir singing in the hospital chapel. I felt great joy in seeing the wide smile of a frustrated mother who could not speak a language understood by the staff until she realized I was understanding her Kiswahili.
Through it all I sensed Christ guiding, encouraging and strengthening me. I felt Him nudging me to “look deeper” in each facial expression and each situation. When I felt reluctant in the early morning darkness to return to the unfamiliar for another day, I pictured scenes of Jesus walking the Via Dolorosa and somehow found His courage in me to go on. If He could do that for me, I could do this with Him.
Gradually I became aware, experiencing a dawning realization that my gift from Him is that very “with-ness” of Him. My heart has been longing for more of being with Him since I came to this city. It has been hard learning to live well within the walled and gated, noisy and fast-paced city. I was already in a very new place, but Christ took me to an even more foreign environment to help me find the more familiar…more of Him. The absence of fear gives testimony to His perfect Love. More of Him, of His abiding Presence, His being with me. Another cherished gift, one that I shall draw from all the days of my life.