Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pushing Back the Darkness

An island woman carrying a basin of small fish (mukene) netted from Lake Victoria.

I spent two full days this week attending a gender-based violence prevention and response training, expertly taught by a well-seasoned American counselor and therapist, who is now serving in East Africa.

I have to admit I finished the training feeling overwhelmed - overwhelmed by the gravity and prevalence of violence. Overwhelmed by my very apparent lack of knowledge and experience on this topic. Overwhelmed by the numerous and disturbing stories that I know play out every day around me, whether I see them or not.

One in three women and one in seven men worldwide have experienced childhood sexual abuse.

Two-thirds of Ugandan women have suffered from physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their husband or intimate partner.

Forty percent of Ugandan women believe "wife battering" is acceptable, compared to 36% of Ugandan men.

The above statistics and other harrowing numbers and stories told throughout the two days nearly took my breath away over and over. How? Why?

Some violence, such as in Uganda, is very culturally-tied. For generations, women have been de-valued - by men and by other women. But truly abuse and violence are present in every place around the world, it is just that they take slightly different forms.

Two cuties who live on the islands.

The violations of basic human rights and the devaluing of a person's God-given value and image occurs everywhere - in Uganda, in the U.S., in every country and on every continent.

Throughout the training I couldn't help but feel helpless knowing so many people are suffering and hurting, and many suffer in silence, hidden away.

Yet, when evil is present, light, goodness and righteousness must, must rise up. I so much appreciated the trainer's emphasis on seeking justice - advocating and representing the oppressed, giving a voice to the despised and down-trodden, despite opposition and criticism. We must resolutely move against the status quo.

Isaiah 1:17 was spotlighted:

"Learn to do right!
Seek justice,
Encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
Plead the case of the widow."

In this passage God is speaking to His people. He is directing us to act - not just to pray and ask Him to act.

I must act here in Uganda. You must act wherever God has placed you.The needs here are immense - as in every place around the world.

I am sure you have noticed, but our world is becoming increasingly darker and more evil. So, what is our responsibility as light-bearers? To snuff out or hide our Christ-given light?

No, but to cause them to grow stronger, brighter and to take them where the darkness is most intense, powerful, and pervasive. How? By following and living verses like Isaiah 1:7.

Light must push back the darkness.

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