Friday, 30 May 2008

Grace Like Rain

It's a shock to the system,
Flying into Uganda, looking out the plane window;
Fields of green, forests, mixed between the red dirt roads,
Rain clouds, and the lake, water for the soul.

To touch down in Entebbe was a piece of Heaven for this weary travelers,
Nothing short of bliss,

There is a feeling here,
It lingers in the air, and on the smiles of the people,
It is gentle and warm,
It is refreshing.

This is country alive,
The culture, the people, the environment,
a stark contrast to the heaviness of Egypt.

I am happy to be here,
And as the rain continues to fall outside,
My soul is lifted up.

The faces of friends, and the familiar smiles of the children,

I am "Uncle Brent" ,

The schedule is full, however, the burden is little,
and together with Shaun, we are the Mzungus here in Mpigi.

We are here,
We are safe,
And we are in love with this place.

Grace, Peace and Blessings,

Sunday, 25 May 2008

A Historic Chapter Closes...

Like a blur it has come and gone,
I sit now, reflecting on what has been,

Cairo is now a part of me,
It will hold me in it's warm embrace and yet, haunt my dreams in the dark of night.

I look back with no regrets,
I've grown more in this time than any other period in my life,
A year is nothing, and yet it is everything.

I found myself driven with passions, passions,
A daunting culture and a desperate need.

Cairo aches still,
I didn't even scratch the surface of it's festering wound,
It still bleeds.

Cairo was for me,
It was a test, it was a challenge and a breeze,
It cut me deep and yet it, brought me joy

I'm leaving as a different man,
I'm leaving with a greater knowledge of myself and yet, more mysteries.
I'm leaving with a greater desire to seek out God,
I'm leaving exhausted,
I'm leaving...

My path now takes me to rest,
My path leads me to hope,
My path leads me to familiar places, and still, to the unknown.

Amidst the trails and triumphs that was Cairo, He was there, He told me, He told us.
And now, on this leap into the unknown, we trust in Him and know that He will cushion our landings.

We seek to know Him more, we seek Him together.

If Cairo has shown me nothing, it has shown me that God, my God, is a patient God,

A God that will be there when we turn to face Him, and pursues us when we don't,

It will be some time before I know fully how Cairo has grown me, has God has grown me in Cairo,
It will be some time before I see all the fruits, and the scars,

I look forward to it,

And now, Uganda,
That country, those people, who have captured my heart,
The burden on my heart, a burden of love,

God go with me,
Friends follow me here,
I'll post when we can and share what we experience,

For now, pray, please,
Pray that I will be filled to serve,
Pray that I will find rest in the midst
Pray for the people I meet,

Grace, Peace and Blessings,


Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Persecuted But Not Abandoned

To flee your home with nothing but the clothes on your back and your kids in your arms,
To come to and grow up in a foreign country where you are persecuted based on nothing more than the colour of your skin,
To face many of the same hardships in this "country of refuge", as you did back home...

All because of a civil war that has raged for more than 40 years,
Because of intolerance and racial profiling, ignorance and religion,

The Sudanese have flocked to the land of Egypt, Christians and Muslims alike, to avoid the constant heat of battle, to avoid death and destruction, rape and pillaging,

Hoping to feel the warm embrace of a country at peace, the Sudanese have been anything but greeted warmly,

Mocked and spit on, refused services and jobs, here in Egypt, the Sudanese refugees as faced a new form of persecution.

Children and teens suffer the brunt of this discrimination on their walk to and from their learning centers,

Denied access to the public school system, the Sudanese have been forced to open their own "Learning Centers",
With no set curriculum and no officially trained teachers, these centers would never be recognized nor accredited,

However, they have served their purpose, allowing refugee children the access to a basic education,

Property is a hard thing to come by in Egypt, and as a result most of these learning centers exist out of a the bottom floor of apartment buildings,
Contracts must be signed, cultures must agree to terms, and cohabitation must exist... a delicate balance.

This week the balance shifted, and one such Learning Center abruptly found itself closed for the year,

The same Learning Center I have spent the last 5 months in, was closed when the landlord decided he wanted out of the established contract.

Rather than addressing the Learning Center or the faculty themselves, the landlord of the property took the matter straight to one of Cairos largest newspapers, El Ahkbar,, exaggerating situations in his report with claims that; many Egyptian Muslim students were being forced to take Bible courses.

Evangelism in Egypt is not permitted legally, and there are severe ramifications for anyone caught "preaching the gospel",

For a Sudanese teacher, allegations such as these can result in immediate imprisonment with deportation to follow.

The school was swiftly closed and tension thickened, when the Egyptian police and state security officers barred the doors,

The following day, when attempting to retrieve the learning centers finical paperwork, classroom registers and stamp, the headmaster was arrested, detained and threatened.

The word was simple, without a permit, the school would not open, and should it try and open without, the teachers would be rounded up, arrested, and finally deported.

A Sudanese refugee "Learning Center" striving to obtain a permit to operate from the Egyptian government is futile, and the state security and police know this. And so they sit, waiting for the opportunity to strike.

It seems as though without the intervention of the Sudanese government or the Egyptian government, all hope for completing this year is lost.

And yet again the Sudanese suffer.
Poverty and Injustice, the life of a refugee.

The light in the darkness, the education they had, seems to be fading, and there are few options to turn to,

The first causality of war seems to always be the childrens education,

Grace, Peace and Blessings,
In His Name,