Moving Mountains for Julia
Organized by: Catrina Lincoln
March 26, 2014---This day started just as every other day had started during our time in Uganda so far. I had no idea that the events that were about to unfold during this day though would be completely changing my life forever. We went to the village of Masese to see where Chris grew up. Chris is one of the Africans who live with the missionaries we stayed with. Masese is the worst of the worst in Jinja. With the unthinkable poverty, hunger, diseases, inadequate healthcare and the lack of infrastructure combined with population density, unemployment, landlessness, every kind of communicable disease you can imagine as well as rampant alcoholism, prostitution and witchcraft, the chances of survival or ever leaving is slim to none. Many people depend on brewing alcohol and picking trash from landfills to earn money. There are no mosquito nets which leaves many people brain damaged or dead as a result from cerebral malaria. Very few restrooms result in most of the people leaving waste lying in the streets and other public areas. The children of the village are covered in sores, worms, fungi and severely infected wounds.
As we were walking through the village we spotted a few people on the ground making something out of paper. I went over and noticed they were making beads and turning them into beautiful jewelry! I was intrigued and began talking to a woman named Alice. She introduced me to her son who was cutting the paper, Erisa. Alice was showing us her jewelry but I did not have any Ugandan money at the time so I was not going to be able to buy any at that time but I promised I would come back. She then gave a bracelet to me as a gift.
Now some people may not think anything of that, however, receiving a gift from someone who literally has nothing and lives in a dirt hut says a lot and means a whole lot more to me. Mark 12:41-44 talks about the widows offering. For anyone not familiar with the story, many rich people were giving large amounts to the offering but when a poor widow placed 2 small coins in the offering, Jesus said that she had surely given more than any of the others because she gave everything she had, out of her poverty while the others were only giving out of their wealth. Alice demonstrated this so very well to me. These are people who may not even have a meal that day but are willing to give a gift to a new friend.
Alice called a little girl up to us and introduced me to her. Her name was Julia. It was her daughter and she was 6 years old. One of the most beautiful little girls I had met and she immediately asked me if I was born again. This somewhat caught me off guard and I replied that in fact I am and she started reciting John 3:16 to me with a huge smile on her face. There was something about this little girl that immediately stole my heart. I wanted to get to know her more so I promised to come back the next day as it is not a safe practice to stay in Masese after the sun goes down.
The next afternoon I returned to Masese as promised but did not find Alice or Julia. Erisa came up to me and said that his mom and sister were in town at the hospital. Julia had been raped the night before, just a couple hours after we left. I tried to keep it together as I got the information about the hospital and last names of Alice and Julia. I had to get to her somehow. I went to one of our leaders and we immediately headed to AlShafa which is a private hospital as we were told she was being transferred there. We waited and waited and she did not show up. At the compound that night I was having a very difficult time trying to keep my emotions contained. We found out that she was still at the Main Hospital which is no place for a dog let alone a human being. First thing in the morning we headed to the hospital to get her transferred to AlShafa.
As we were walking up the sidewalk to enter the hospital I was being prepared for the worst. We were told that she was not in very good condition and that she wasn’t talking to anyone. My heart was hurting before I even walked in the door. To my shock and surprise I walked through the hospital, looking at all the hurting eyes of the patients who had no food, blankets or pillows because they couldn’t pay for them and the dirty beds in front of the broken glass windows. Julia’s bed was at the very end. She saw me from the distance and immediately sat up in bed and smiled the best she could. I just hugged her when I arrived at her bedside and held her. Her right cheek was very swollen and she was speaking with a lisp due to the abuse she endured. She thanked me for coming and said that she was so happy to see me. She also was praying for the other women in the hospital. She looked at me and said, “Close your eyes, I need to pray for you”. She prayed for me and thanked God for bringing me to her. She just sat next to me singing songs and reciting Bible verses for several hours as we waited to get her transferred to a better hospital. She sang a song about Jesus keeping her alive. This girls hope and spirit was encouraging and amazing. Was I really sitting next to the same little girl who had just experienced this type of trauma??
In fact I was. Her medical record (a notebook at the edge of the bed) stated that she had been forcefully sodomized by an older man in the village. She had been tested for HIV but of course that does not show up for a while. As of right now, she was negative. I discovered the story of what had happened that night from her mother.
Alice told me that Julia and her sister were outside bathing (which is how you bathe in Uganda) and she was preparing dinner. A guy, who the girls were familiar with because he had been friends with Julia’s older brother, came up and was talking to them. He asked Julia to go to the charging station with him. A charging station is just a place where people can charge their phones, if they are fortunate enough to have one there. Of course, this was normal so Julia agreed to go. What she did not agree to was what was about to take place. He took her into a house and had a machete. He held it to her throat and told her if she screamed or cried he would cut her head off. He proceeded in beating her, resulting in her swollen face and a few bruised ribs. He then committed the horrific sodomy that she had to endure and in silence.
So how was this little girl able to still sit in that hospital and praise the Lord? Simple, the Holy Spirit is inside of her and she knows that God has amazing plans for her life. She told me about Jeremiah 29:11 more than once. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV). She knows that God has more planned for her. She knows that what she experienced was not because of Him and she knows that she is worth so much more than the shame and doubt that so often follows trauma such as hers. The Holy Spirit was absolutely protecting her during those events that took place that night and there is no doubt about that.
Alice told me some other stories about Julia over the next several days. Julia is completely unashamed of her faith. She has no problem or shyness in sharing the Gospel with anyone, whether they ask or not. She will walk around the village of Masese, very boldly, and let people know that Jesus is coming back one day. She goes up to the witch doctors and the drunkards of the village and shares the story of Jesus with them. Romans 1:16 says that “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Julia is a perfect example of this. She definitely showed me what it looks like to be a true disciple of Christ, even at the young age of six years old.
I was able to provide the family with some food and clothing before I had to head back to America. Julia asked me if I would come back to visit her. I said of course (knowing I was going to see her the night before I left). She said “no, I mean the next time you come to Africa.” I looked into her eyes and said absolutely I will be back to see you. And I will.
Not only am I going back to Uganda in March of 2015, I am going back with an even bigger purpose. I am raising funds to purchase land and build a house for Julia and her family. It will not only get them out of Masese and safer from harms way where she was injured, but it will also open up huge doors for the children to attend better schools and her parents to have more work and a safer environment. It will allow them to not have to worry about where they will come up with the money for rent for their home. They can focus on feeding their family and sending children to school with the necessary fees. Julia’s dad currently works for a church and her mom tries to sell her jewelry. There are just not very many avenues within Masese to do so. We are also going to give Alice other skills for things that she can make and package to sell from home as well to provide extra income for the family.
I want Julia safe and I want this family to be able to sleep in some comfort. Right now they have 10 people in the household. They sleep in 2 rooms that are very far from big enough. They only have one twin size bed. The rest have to sleep on the ground of dirt which turns to mud when it rains.
At the time of writing this, our first goal is to get some land purchased. Our goal for this specifically is $15,000 US dollars. Land goes up in price yearly in Uganda and it is not cheap over there like everything else is so this is a priority. My goal is to be able to purchase land in March when we go back, if not sooner. The ultimate dollar goal for the entire project, which will include the land, building the house, furnishing the home, and hiring the physical hands to do the work, is $35,000. Help me change this family’s life forever. Land in Uganda is generational. This land will stay in their family and be passed on for generations to come. So we are not only changing one person’s life, or one family’s life, we are changing an entire family line for years and years to come. Anything at all can help with this project. I will be updating everyone throughout the process with updates and pictures as they are available with the progress we are making.
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