“Gimmee Shelter” Ch 22 from Trampled Grass

cpt 22

The old man nodded at the dark clouds beyond the mountains.

“The rains are coming.”

We looked at the mass of South Sudanese refugees.

Hundreds of women, pots and dishes in hand, standing in line for their daily allotment of cooked food. A long line of yellow jerry cans stretching to faucets attached to a huge container.


                                                                Water is precious. Aiylo Camp Uganda

The rains are coming.

What will these people do?

They’ve erected shelters with tarps and plastic sheeting emblazoned with

UNHCR and USAID. And those are the lucky ones.

Others are standing under trees. It’s their shelter from the coming storm.

What will they do when the rains come?

Equatorial Africa (the Uganda camps are about latitude 4 degrees north) has definite rainy seasons.

There are months (March/April) when it rains everyday.

There are other times (December/January) when it seldom rains. The savannahs become brown and brush fires fill the air with smoke.

When the rains return, they are welcome as they allow planting of crops and better access to water for livestock and humans.

The rains are welcome if you have shelter.

These refugees from South Sudan have little shelter.

Some have none.

What will they do when the rains come?

That night, a heavy rain breaks loose. Bob, being a good Southerner, calls it a “frog choker.”

I’ve always loved rural expressions for rain. “Raining bull heifers and enough hay to feed them.” “A real log floater.”

“Gully Washer.”

It rains most of the night.

Laying under our mosquito net at a cheap hotel, DeDe and I talk about the refugees who are seeking shelter from the same rains pelting our tin roof.

It doesn’t seem as big of a deal that we don’t have hot water, good electricity, or a fan.

We’ve got shelter.

However, thousands near us are laying on the bare ground, trying to stay dry under tattered tarps and stick shelters.

The needs are overwhelming and can easily flood us into paralysis. We can’t meet all of these massive needs.

But we can meet some.

The impossibility and magnitude of this man-made disaster is no excuse to shirk what we can do.

I think about a shelter being built at another location. A Madi tribe Baptist church in Nimule, South Sudan, has been hosting a large group of Murle refugees.

Through Baptist Global Resources (BGR) and the generous gift of a Dry Creek (LA) family, a brick shelter is being erected to house the refugees. When they eventually return home, the building will become the worship center.

Let me rephrase that, it already is a worship center. As the words of Jesus echo, “I was sick … in prison… hungry and you took me in”. I’m reminded that true worship is always shown in caring for others.

I remind you that the rains are coming. We cannot do everything.
But we can, and must, do something.







Storm moving in over Adjumani, Uganda

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