Gene lived her life in poverty. After her husband died, she sacrificed what little she had to move to Bethany Village, an orphanage in southern Uganda, and become a House Mother. She is now a single mother to 14 kids. Each day the family wakes up before daylight to do their chores before Gene makes breakfast and gets the children ready to go to school. While the children are at school, Gene cleans, re-washes dishes and clothes that the children did not wash properly, prepares their meals, takes care of the compound, and more. Those children have become Gene’s life. She loves them as if they were her own flesh and blood. Each night, the family gathers together for a time of worship. They sing and dance in praise to the Lord and often hear a testimony from either Gene or one of the older kids. These times with one another are sweet, and it is obvious that serving the One, True God is a priority in Gene’s home.
That first night at Bethany, Rachel and Jonathan were sent to Gene’s home for devotions. The family sang “I’m Trading My Sorrows”, and Jonathan and Rachel could sense a spirit of authentic, heartfelt worship. It wasn’t until later that they realized just how heartfelt their worship was.
About two months ago, a group of children were playing with one of Gene’s daughters, and she was accidentally hit in the head with a rock. Everything seemed fine, but they decided to take the girl into the city to the hospital just in case. For days, Gene stayed there with her daughter, assuring her that everything would be okay and they would go home soon. But everything was not okay. Without much warning, her daughter passed away there in the hospital.
When we arrived at Bethany, we heard about that accident. It had only been two weeks, and the children were still mourning the loss of this loved one. We were shown a photo of that beautiful little girl, and asked to pray for her family. One afternoon, Rachel, Rosie, and I were sent to Gene’s house to help her with her chores. We washed the dishes and clothes and swept the yard for her, but she soon felt as if she had asked too much of us (which she hadn’t), and invited us in to visit. As we stood in the bedroom where the child’s empty bed lay, we could see and feel her heartache. She began to cry as she shared part of her story with us. None of us knew what to do or say except to pray for her. As we gathered around her, we asked the Lord to comfort Gene and her children. We asked that He bring them that peace that cannot be explained apart from Him, and that He be glorified through the life of that child. We prayed against any guilt or regret, and begged our all-sufficient God to be her strength in the midst of these wearying days.
That moment will forever be burned in my mind. In my life, I have yet to experience great sorrow like Gene has. I cannot empathize with her about the loss of not only a spouse, but also a child. I cannot imagine the pain she feels. But I do know a God who can. I know that He is the only One who can empathize, comfort, and strengthen. And He alone is sufficient for her.
The morning we were leaving, Rachel went back to visit with Gene and hear more of her story. As she left, she could hear Gene in her room weeping and crying out to God in desperation.
Gene needs our prayers. Her life is full of pain and grief, yet she has to continue to take care of so many children who depend on her to be their strength in the midst of their mourning. She needs someone to listen to her, to point her toward Christ, and to help her. Rachel and I wish we could be there now. We so wish that we could be the shoulders for her to cry on. But that is not the Lord’s plan for our lives right now. We cannot physically help her at this time, but we can pray for her. I implore you to lift Gene up to our Heavenly Father and beg Him to lavish His comfort on her and on her children. It is the greatest gift that we could give her.