By Jennie Dangers
Oh friends! How on earth can I find words to express the joy in my heart, the amazement at the grace of God, the awe at the miracles He can do and has done? September 29th, 2012 is a day I will never forget- a day two people I have loved and walked closely with for 17 and 14 years married each other! And a day of remembering God’s miracles not only in Eva and Medie’s lives, but in countless others as well!
Let’s start with my Eva.
Eva- whose parents both passed away years ago, whose original name (that her adoptive parents changed) meant “throw away,” but who was has been cherished and loved and raised as a daughter in the Bakimi family since she was 3-years-old.
Medie- the youngest son of a Muslim family; one who gave his life to Jesus many years ago and has been persecuted emotionally by many since then but has stayed strong in His faith.
Eva- my fearful and closed little 1st grade student; my precious 4th grader who began to cautiously share her heart; my 8th grader committed to living her life for Jesus even if it meant standing alone; my dear 11th grader and later university student learning to let her light shine in new schools far away from home; my dear sister choosing to open her heart to her adoptive parents and trust them truly as her own; my dear friend who allowed me to walk with her as a mentor as she attended the New Hope Institute of Childcare and Family; my friend, fellow staff member, and neighbor for the last year!
Medie- my 4th grader who didn’t know what all this stuff about Jesus meant and whose older brother had just been killed in a car accident; my 8th grader who had given his life to Jesus and was in constant pain because of daily choices he had to make- how to serve Jesus with his whole heart while still loving and honoring and obeying his parents; a new university student in agony as his “soul mate,” best friend and brother in Christ, Emmanuel, died suddenly of an aneurism; a man of vision who saw himself “blessed to bless,” and who, with his other best friends, Mugabi and James, started “Emmanuel Youth Outreaches” and inspired the next generation of Kasana’s young people to live a life of service; a young man seeking God’s will for his life standing strong out there in the “real world;” and now my fellow NHU staff member who gave up opportunities of more lucrative and prestigious jobs to go help start New Hope’s Musana Camps with his dear friend (and best man!) Syd Sparks.
Medie and Eva- good friends to each other for the last 14 years. Medie and Eva, the “glue” that holds our “Favoured Family” together (the name the students I’ve worked with over the last 17 years have given themselves). Medie and Eva, the ones everyone knows love Jesus and live their lives for Him.
Medie and Eva- “bantu bange” -“my people”- those I belong to and those who belong to me. Medie and Eva, a man and woman seeking to build a family on His truth- despite their pasts and cultures, and filled with hope and faith in His Word for their future.
A man and woman I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about in the years to come in this nation!!
Uncle Jonnes and Auntie Gertrude, Eva’s adoptive parents- both from broken homes, but now soon celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Medie’s parents- Hadji Muhammad Kanyike and “Mamma Mulungi,” neighbors of New Hope for the last 25 years, and Hadji one of our drivers for most of that time; loved friends of everyone at Kasana; Hadji a faithful Muslim trying to honor Allah as best he can and not understanding the choices of his son, and then later his grandson, and daughter; Hadji- a man faithful to his faith but with torn loyalties – should he even attend the wedding of his son- who was marrying a pastor’s daughter in a Christian Church? Mamma Mulungi and Hadji- one of those miracle couples who are this year celebrating their 50th year of marriage!
In order to honor the Kanyikes- a couple I love and respect deeply despite our fundamental differences, I do not want to go into the details of why what happened at the wedding was miraculous. But for those of you who know our history, rejoice with us!
Before Uncle Jonnes gave the sermon at the wedding, he said he wanted to sing a song of rejoicing and praise to God in his mother tongue- Rukiga. He welcomed the audience to dance with him, but none of us expected what happened next!
As Uncle Jonnes began to sing and dance, Hadji grabbed his wife’s hand, and pulled her up to the front of the church to dance together with Uncle Jonnes! A hadji and a pastor dancing together in church- in front of their children who had just wed each other!! Seconds later, Mamma Mulungi went and grabbed Auntie Gertrude to dance with her! My dad soon joined, and then the whole Kanyike family joined too- giving their blessing to their son and brother, and rejoicing together in God’s goodness!!
I wish I could walk with you through the stories of this bridal party, our history together (most of the people in this picture have known each other most of their lives!), our stories of God’s grace, and the hopes of prayers one day we know He will answer in the lives of those who don’t know Him yet- but I have not asked permission to share their stories… Suffice it to say that each one of us is a miracle- people who humanly speaking shouldn’t be alive today, some who were literally thrown away at birth, a widow now married again to a wonderful man, Muslims and former Muslims who now love Jesus; orphans who now have family; some, like me, whose hearts were bitter and full of questions but that God has continued to heal and who can now rejoice totally at the wedding of those I see as my “children,” though I am still not married… and on and on.
And on September 29th, together, we went all out and celebrated His goodness!