SF Equality Rider in Uganda: Journal Entry
Angel Collie, former Soulforce Equality Rider, is on a trip for social justice in Uganda. Below is a journal entry from Angel as he begins his trip.
Uganda can be the ultimate lesson in letting go. It’s hard to really put into words the overwhelming over stimulation of every sense. Holes fill dusty dirt roads and make for a bumpy ride. Bumper to bumper cars trod forward dodging people, boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) and sometimes even the occasional goat.
Rushing through this organized chaos to make it on time to a meeting to be 45 minutes late and the first one to arrive is only one example of how things operate on a different system of expectations here.
Being in Uganda I can’t help but ask myself where is God in all of this? Everywhere I look there is indescribable amounts of poverty. Images forever etched into my mind. I close my eyes and I see the woman in a wheel chair in the middle of a busy highway with a baby in her lap begging. Or I see the young man, most likely younger than you and I, hobbling on a ragged sidewalk with blistered bleeding feet and no shoes.
I ask where is God amidst all of this poverty and suffering? I see the mega churches with their beautiful buildings but the fruits of their work has lead to a mob like mentality convicted to stamp out any sign of difference.
I ask myself, where is God in this?
It’s no easy adjustment to this place. I find myself constantly lamenting the difficulty involved in just finding a cold bottle of water on a steaming hot day. I complain about the inconvenient power outages and slow Internet. I find myself deeply disappointed when I think I’ve finally found a fulfilling meal only to be served burnt fish sticks and cold french-fries not the “fish and chips” I’d imagined would be similar to the Irish pubs I tend to frequent.
What am I doing here? Should I even be here? And, how can I be so selfish as to lament such trivial things amidst such extreme poverty? Where is God in me that I can see all this and still be so concerned about the taste, texture, and temperatures of the food that so many around me are literally starving for? How can I justify being here and sharing a sidewalk with someone whose life experience is so far from mine that I just as well be on the other side of the world?
I step back and ask myself where have I seen God in this day? Where have I seen hope? Where has there been light in the despair? Where is there joy in the struggle? To be honest I don’t see a lot but I remember that’s what faith is all about. It’s about believing in that which can’t quite yet be realized.
I came here with the wrong attitude. I came here wondering how I can help and what I can offer. The truth is now I am seeking to learn. I come wounded, broken, insecure, and afraid. I come with a deep desire for something better but clueless about how to get there. I come with an open heart and an open mind and trust in the mess God is at work.
After the last couple of days and deep reflection of asking myself again where do I see God in this I still wonder but then I think of the faces of the people whose path I’ve been so blessed to cross. I think of the beautiful spirit of a strong man living fearlessly into who he knows God created him to be and the cross around his neck that says it all: “I have called you by name, you are mine.”
I see God in the plate of food a hungry woman rushes home to eat. I see God in the hands of those reaching out to make a difference knowing it might not change the world for all but that it will change the world for those they can reach. I see God in those who keep going amidst the doubt as they wonder does small action really matter in a sea of despair.
I see God in the smile of the gatekeeper and his beautiful baby. I see God in the metrics of those dedicated to doing the best they can even in less than ideal conditions. I see God in the laughing of children on a playground. I see God in a wise old boda driver who navigates with grace and caution.
I see God in the brokenness because it is the very substance of which miracles are created. I see God in the hope for a better tomorrow, in the faith of knowing it will come, and in the love of those working now to make it happen