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He Knows Your Name (Ros' Blog)
I’ve just come back from a week at Center Parcs on a Through the Roof holiday, where we looked at some of the New Testament characters who were noticed by Jesus when other people didn’t notice them. None of us on the holiday are well known. Some have learning disabilities and live in care communities or supported living. And yet to watch the love and care everyone showed to each other was a real blessing. To hear people read the Bible, perhaps stumblingly, and pray simple but heartfelt prayers was the most uplifting experience. At least one person on the holiday found it life-changing and she said she had rediscovered her calling.
Some people in the Bible scarcely get a mention, their names hastily dropped into the list in a genealogy, or given a passing mention in someone else’s story. And yet they are included for a reason. Here are a few of them whom you might not have noticed:
Huldah is named as a prophet, the wife of Shallum (yes, I know, you haven’t heard of him either). Her name may not appear in lists of the Biblical great and good, but she was clearly a significant person in her day. When the young king Josiah was presented with the book of the law, and discovered the many ways in which his predecessors had failed to obey it, he sent messengers to enquire of the Lord. And in those days, when you wanted to know what the Lord had to say about something, you went and asked Huldah. She must have had quite a reputation as someone who spent time listening to God and knew what was on His heart.
Adlai only gets mentioned once in the Bible, and then only for being someone’s father. He was the father of Shaphat, who was the father of Elisha the prophet. We might perhaps wonder why it was important for him to be named in Scripture when we are told only this one fact about him. But we know a lot about the character of Elisha – his devotion and obedience to God, his loyalty to Elijah, his determination not to miss out on receiving a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Where did he get those qualities from? Surely these values must have been instilled in him by his father and grandfather while he was growing up. Without their influence he might never have followed Elijah, Naaman might never have been healed of his leprosy, the bitter water at Jericho might never have been purified, and the widow’s dead son might never have been brought back to life.
Then there’s a woman who isn’t even named, we know of her only as the wife of an unnamed man who lived at Bahurim. When Absalom was pursuing David to kill him, two messengers were on their way to warn David so he could escape. They were spotted and reported to Absalom, who sent men to capture them. They called at the house of a man in Bahurim, and his wife helped them to climb down into a well to hide, then spread a covering over the well and scattered grain over it. Without her action they would not have escaped to warn David, and he and his men would have been wiped out. Absalom, rather than Solomon, would have succeeded him to the throne of Israel, and the nation’s history would have been very different.
Then there’s the man who is named in our English Bibles as Ebed-Melek, although in reality the Hebrew Eved-Melech isn’t actually a name; it simply means the king’s slave. The king’s officials heard Jeremiah prophesying a warning from God, and they went and complained about him to the king, who shrugged and told them to do what they liked with him. So they took him and threw him into an empty well where he sank down into the mud at the bottom. Ebed-Melek went to the king and pointed out the wickedness of these men’s actions, effectively condemning Jeremiah to starve to death. The king responded by authorising thirty men to rescue Jeremiah and save his life.
All these people played a vital part in God’s plans. Like these Bible characters and the many more whom I could have listed, none of us who went on the Center Parcs holiday are household names. But God knows every one of us by name, and we matter to him. Just as God cared enough to mention these forgotten characters in the Bible, many of them by name, so He cares for each one of us, however obscure or unknown, and never forgets any of us. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us, “Can a mother forget the baby who is nursing at her breast? Can she stop having tender love for the child who was born to her? She might forget her child. But I will not forget you. I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Your walls are never out of my sight.”
So if you’re feeling forgotten, overlooked or insignificant, this is a reminder that you are none of those things to God. You are never out of His sight. You are never forgotten. He wears you like a permanent tattoo, always embossed on his hands. The part you play in His great scheme for the universe can’t be played by anyone else. You are an essential component of the world he designed, and without you something vital would be missing. And just like those minor characters whom God ensured were included in the story of the Bible, some small action by you might make more difference to the course of events than you can ever imagine.
Wheelsblog -- Uganda 2019, Day 8
Thursday 13 June
Well, our distribution is over and after an early night in the accommodation in Yumbe, we left at 06.00 in the dark, with rain falling making the roads very slippery, to head for the national park at Murchison Falls. At 09:30 we stopped and picked up breakfast in Arua before continuing the journey on a tarmac road for the next two hours until we reached Red Chilli Rest Camp.
What a brilliant and amazing afternoon we have had in the national park. We took a three and a half hour boat ride to the falls seeing hippo, crocodiles, elephants and giraffe on the way as well as baboons, warthogs and antelope. We were intending to do a safari drive this evening but time ran out so we returned to Camp and sat outside watching the sun go down before warthogs visited around our Banda huts and a huge hippo visited after supper.
Each team member will take away a different perspective of this trip, knowing that they have made a significant difference to many lives. The Nile river at the Murchison Falls tumbles through a very narrow gorge and then fans out on its journey through many countries. The need for mobility aids in Bidi Bidi Camp alone is vast but we have made a start to serve the 19,000 disabled people in the camp of 270,000 refugees.
Tomorrow is another early 06.00 start for a 6 hour journey to Entebbe for our flight home.
Once again, thank you for your interest and prayers for this trip. We feel it has been worthwhile, if not what we planned, as we have been able to mentor the local folks here so that they can continue the work and maintain the wheelchairs we have given.
Wheelsblog -- Uganda 2019, Day 7
The Wheels for the World team are in Moyo, Uganda from the 5th to the 15th June. We'll be bringing you their stories and news as often as the internet connection allows. Here's the seventh report, as the team unloads the container, and travels to Bidi Bidi camp to distribute wheelchairs and change many lives! Please keep praying for the team as they pack up and head home over the next couple of days.
Wednesday 12 June
We woke early this morning at 05:00 and packed our vehicles with our belongings as we were leaving our accommodation today and moving onto Yumbe and the Bidi Bidi camp for the first and last distribution.
Our first job at around 06:00 was to unload the container and separate out the various chairs and walking aids as some were to be left in Moyo and the rest taken to Yumbe by lorry. The whole process was done in record time and by 07:40 we were on a dirt road direct to Bidi Bidi.
We arrived after about 90 minutes and stopped for a while at a church, but then relocated closer to town because we needed to be closer to the clients. We ended up in a good location under two large tents on a hill overlooking the area. There were already a few people sitting on the ground waiting to be seen and we soon got underway with the distribution as a steady stream of people came.
We saw several young children and some complex cases keeping the therapists busy all day. We used today to continue mentoring the HHA team and by the end of the session they were feeling confident to take on their own cases in readiness to complete the distribution without our assistance.
After seeing the therapists each client is given the opportunity to meet our pastor, Nathan, and receive a Bible and prayer. This was a precious time to be able to find out more about the clients themselves and understand how we can best be praying for them. Many were now able to get to church based purely on the fact that they had received a wheelchair. The stories varied greatly but they were mostly stories of immense sadness and suffering as people left their country of South Sudan, their homes and families. God was clearly at work during the pastoral time and it was a blessing to be able to serve the clients.
During the afternoon we had a visit from the local head of government who warmly welcomed us and thanked us for what we are doing for the disabled people in the camp.
At the end of the distribution we thanked our host partners, HHA, and after giving them small gifts and saying our goodbyes, we boarded the transport to our overnight accommodation in Yumbe town. We are all looking forward to a relaxing day at Murchison Falls and a safari tomorrow.
Wheelsblog -- Uganda 2019, Day 6
The Wheels for the World team are in Moyo, Uganda from the 5th to the 15th June. We'll be bringing you their stories and news as often as the internet connection allows. Here's the sixth report, as the team travels out to work with people all around the area, meeting several people who they wouldn't have been able to help otherwise. Please keep praying for the team--they're unloading the container this morning, and will have a very full day of work!
Tuesday 11 June
Today has been another day out in the camps, but the container is on its way! Today we split into three teams. One team found a very sick lady who was not able to sit in her wheelchair as she was so ill. If we had not been looking for her she would not have got help through our partners. Another God coincidence or part of his plan?
Jill and Rob walked 5.6 km in hot sunshine through maize, avoiding goats, ducks and chickens and all sorts of obstacles. At one point Jill sat down on a log to take a drink and found she was on a pigsty!
They passed the local hospital, so being a nurse and a therapist, their curiosity got the better of them. So they washed their hands, had the soles of their feet sprayed, and went to reception. They were welcomed by the Clinical Officer and given a tour.
They found there was 1 doctor for 7 villages and 12,000 villagers. How we take the NHS for granted. Lots of epilepsy, maleria, depression and PTSD. Jill was able to give out more puppets and then brought out pots of bubbles. Initially kids were very shy but finished up laughing and popping bubbles as the group of kids got bigger and bigger.
Dave was paired with Lynne and Pastor Shadrack. We first saw a girl who had cerebral palsy and we managed to adapt her wheelchair slightly to improve her seating position and provide her mother with advice on sleep positioning to stop her scoliosis.
Then we saw an old man who had had a stroke. He was able to stand and walk a little. The tyres on his wheelchair needed pumping up and we adjusted the length of his walking aid to suit his height. Pastor Shadrack gave him a Bible which delighted him filling his face with a smile. We really value seeing smiles on people’s faces as, in this environment, life is really tough.
Unfortunately the plans have changed yet again, which no longer surprises us! Instead of unloading the container ready for the trip to Yumbe tonight, we will be doing that at 06:00 tomorrow and then off to Bidi Bidi for our first and last wheelchair distribution as they have never had wheelchairs there.
Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts over theses few difficult days. It was not what we planned, but we have seen and made a significant impact to over 50 people so far.
Wheelsblog -- Uganda 2019, Day 5
The Wheels for the World team are in Moyo, Uganda from the 5th to the 15th June. We'll be bringing you their stories and news as often as the internet connection allows. Here's the fifth report, covering the work they're undertaking and the people they're reaching while they attempt to plan around the late delivery of the container. Please keep praying for the team!
Monday 10 June
Today has been another interesting day. At breakfast we were told the the shipping company wouldn’t accept the cash payment we planned to give this morning to get the container on the way. There have apparently been discussions between Through the Roof and the carriers and the latest at 15:30 local time is that the container is being loaded in Kampala and will be driven here through the night; so it might mean we have an early morning unloading at 02:00 or so,but this will at least mean we will have some to distribute in Moyo area before we head off to Yumbe tomorrow afternoon with part of the load of chairs on a lorry.
Earlier we went to some homes and met children with various disabilities, including cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Some had been given wheelchairs and trikes and others had nothing and are unlikely to get anything on this distribution.
We have been continuing to mentor the HHA staff to support them with skills for their future wheelchair provision work. It was great to see them involved in the decision making, contributing their ideas, practising handling skills and looking at how poor posture can be improved.
We continue to be in awe of how resourceful these people can be with absolutely nothing. There have been so many smiles as puppets were distributed with the insistence that they need to SHARE: a very hard concept when you probably own little. Whilst waiting for the other team and writing this blog, Lucie and Jill were ‘hemmed in’ by half the village children who are just wondering what these crazy white people are doing. The toddlers were in danger of getting trampled so Dave came to the rescue by showing them pictures of themselves on his iPad.
At dinner we found out the latest with the container. It appears that it was loaded onto the lorry, but the security guard in the compound refused to allow it out as the company policy is that lorries should not be driven overnight. So we have another delay as the lorry will not leave until until 08:00 tomorrow morning; arriving in Moyo hopefully tomorrow evening. We have decided to stay an additional day at the Multipurpose accommodation and leave for Yumbe the following day, allowing a day at Bidi Bidi camp which has never has a Wheels distribution.
Please continue to pray for the team as they try to adapt to the ever changing situation and especially for Jill and Rob who have the task of remaking plans.
Blind Hymn Writer Lights the Way (Ros' Blog)
Throughout my life there have been some hymns that have made a profound impression on me, and some hymn writers whose stories have touched and inspired me. And in researching these hymn writers, I have found that a number of them are disabled, and have left a wonderful legacy in the words they have written – people like Frances Ridley Havergal, Fanny Crosby, William Cowper, Anne Steele and George Matheson. George Matheson is a great example of how it is not a physical condition that disables, but the attitudes of those around us. And he is also a great example of how, no matter what life throws at us, we can always find all we need in Jesus.
George Matheson was born in Glasgow in 1842, the eldest of eight siblings. He was an exceptionally bright student, and when he left school he gained a place at Glasgow University, where he studied Classics, Philosophy and Logic. He was just nineteen years old when he graduated with first class honours, but at the same time he was rapidly losing his sight. He had always had poor vision, and in school he had worn strong glasses and had always sat near a window to benefit from the daylight. But in his final year at university he lost the remainder of his sight and from then on he was only able to make out faint shadows, and was functionally blind.
Matheson did not allow any of this to hold him back from his chosen career path of becoming a church minister. In fact, it is said that many of his congregation did not even know that he was blind. He would stand up and “read” the passage of Scripture, presumably from memory, so that most of those who heard had no idea that he was not reading from the page. He continued to study and write theological works, dictating them to his sister who transcribed them for him. He remained very close to this particular sister and there was always a deep bond between them.
While at Glasgow University, George Matheson had met and fallen in love with a young lady whom he had asked to be his wife. She accepted and they became engaged. But when he told her of his increasing blindness, she responded, “I do not wish to be the wife of a blind man,” and broke off their engagement. He lived with the pain of that rejection for the rest of his life, and yet did not allow it to deter him from serving God as a faithful pastor and minister of the Gospel.
George Matheson’s most famous hymn was written in the space of five minutes one evening when he was forty years old. He has chosen not to disclose exactly what was passing through his mind when he picked up his pen to write it, saying only that “Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering.” But the occasion was the night of his sister’s wedding, and it’s likely that the event, necessarily taking his sister away from him after many years of being so close, brought back the memory of his own rejection by his fiancée. Certainly he had never married and had never fully got over being rejected for his sight loss.
He wrote later that, unlike all his other hymns and verses, he did not have to work at the rhythm or metre of this hymn, but that it came to him in the space of five minutes; he scribbled it down and never edited or retouched it. It came to him, he said, “like a dayspring from on high”.
During his lifetime, George Matheson was honoured in several different ways. He was made an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Edinburgh University, became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and was invited by Queen Victoria to preach in front of her at Balmoral.
He never did marry, ending his life a bachelor in 1906 at the age of sixty-four. Many of his writings still exist and are available to read in books and on the Internet. But the piece of writing for which he will always be remembered is that one hymn in which he expresses so profoundly how the love of Jesus, which never let him go, had become the mainstay of his life. And in writing it, he brought encouragement and hope to countless others down the decades – a hundred and thirty-one years later we still sing it in our churches, and in polls conducted by Songs of Praise it remains one of the nation’s favourite hymns.
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
Wheelsblog -- Uganda 2019, Day 4
The Wheels for the World team are in Moyo, Uganda from the 5th to the 15th June. We'll be bringing you their stories and news as often as the internet connection allows. Here's the fourth report, covering their Sunday visits. Please keep praying for the team--especially for the quick release of the wheelchair container!
Sunday 9 June
Today started early with a visit to Calvary Baptist church where we worshiped with a lively group of local people in one of the camps about an hour away from our accommodation.
As we sang, Michael took over playing one of the drums and we sang and joined in the worship.
Nathan gave the sermon from Luke 5 about the man lowered to Jesus through the roof. Then he was asked to dedicate two children, something that he’d not done before.
After the service we met with the African members of the congregation and were warmly greeted by them.
Then we split into two groups and went out to meet people in their homes. Both teams were able to make a difference to the lives of people and, in addition we were able to mentor some of the HHA staff who will be distributing the wheelchairs after we leave the Moyo camps on Tuesday.
It was a long and tiring day, but we remain in high spirits and look forward to what God has in store for us tomorrow.
Wheelsblog -- Uganda 2019, Day 3
The Wheels for the World team are in Moyo, Uganda from the 5th to the 15th June. We'll be bringing you their stories and news as often as the internet connection allows. Here's the third report, covering the work they've started doing while waiting for the container. Please keep praying for the team!
Through the Roof and Hope Health Action have tried so hard to speed up the container, but now it will be Monday at the earliest. We are planning 1 day distribution on Tuesday here, then 1 in Bidi Bidi camp a few hours away on Wednesday. Then we have to begin the journey home Thursday.
This way we can mentor the local HHA team who are trained to fit chairs and then they can continue the distributions when the team go.
We had another joyful day of home visits. The audio bibles were a particular hit - these are supplied by some donors from my church in Chessington, and others including Motcombe village. and have the bible read by a native speaker, and are solar powered!
So we are doing well. Disappointed not to be fitting chairs as planned, but what a great opportunity to take time to see people in their homes and follow up clients from previous distributions!
Thank you all.
Wheelsblog -- Uganda 2019, Day 2
The Wheels for the World team are in Moyo, Uganda from the 5th to the 15th June. We'll be bringing you their stories and news as often as the internet connection allows. Here's the second report, covering the work they've started doing while waiting for the container. Please keep praying for the team!
Today we split into 3 teams to make use of the unexpected time without the container and equipment. The pastors and Michael, the Children’s worker, spent time with local disabled people and pastors training them on the Biblically view on disability. This begun with a talk on the Bible principles on disability followed by the dangers of the prosperity gospel and the joy of the true gospel. The group then split into two to look at examples of people who were disabled in the Bible. We then ended with a drama on the story of Mephibosheth on the importance of a two way relationship when helping people. The group listened and responded very positively to the training.
A small team attended Ibakwe Hills Nursery and Primary School where Michael took an assembly for 1638 pupils with his puppet Davis! When he was sharing the message of Christ, we were shocked to hear that nearly every child had seen a dead body, even the youngest in the school. It was fantastic how positively the children responded to our visit and humbling to hear how dedicated the 19 teachers were who work voluntarily to prepare the children for their Primary School National exams.
This team completed 3 home visits including Keiden Josephine, a lady who had suffered from leprosy and crawled out of her hut to welcome us. She still had the old unusable wheelchair her son had pushed her for 2 days to cross the border and reach the camp. She already had a wheelchair provided by a different charity and was using this successfully to access the church and local community. This extraordinary lady managed to cook and get in and out of bed unaided and her final comment was “I cannot believe that you took the time to come and speak to me”. It was great to affirm just how valued she is in God’s sight.
Home visits were the focus of the group. We met several people who had wheelchairs already but who were struggling to use them because of needing repair or problems sitting comfortably. Meeting these people highlighted how much a wheelchair can change their lives. The First Lady we met said that before receiving her wheelchair she never left the small compound of her home. Now with a chair she can go and collect six cans of water, attend church and school and was involved in a work skill building program for disabled people. She proudly talked about successfully managing to work on a project to construct a building for a training centre and appealed to us to raise awareness of their efforts to equip the centre.
We also met an elderly man who was crawling on the floor as he planted crops. He had a wheelchair but it needed some adjustments to make it comfortable for him to use and to propel more easily. Another man with a tricycle was given some help to make his chair comfortable so that he was not in discomfort as he travelled 12 kilometres to work and back. Simple work on his chair made a huge difference to this man who was very grateful for the help he was given.
So many people in great need from such varied backgrounds. We heard how people who were previously farmers were able to adjust more easily to sustaining themselves on the camp whilst others from the cities working in jobs such as bankers, lawyers and such like professions struggled to learn and cope on the camp.