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Upon visiting Uganda, I had no idea I would meet her and get to spend so much time with her. Her cause is bigger than her but her bravery and courage during a war has us all searching our hearts. 25 years of Kony’s LRA war and his stealing of kids from their families, forcing them into all forms of slavery and brainwashing, had left Uganda with a great need of restoration.
I came to see some of this restoration. Invited, actually, to come. And not fully understanding what I agreed to do, I found myself on a plane with a few other incredible individuals that I still call friends. We arrived super late into Kampala, and headed out early the next day. After two car breakdowns, and a much longer trip than we had planned, we arrived in Gulu.
This was just the day after the world mourned the publicized fall of leadership of Invisible Children. Another group dedicated to stopping Joseph Kony as he continued destroying so many lives. We were there to meet kids at school who were experiencing new beginnings after so much had been taken from them with Restore International. But there was so much more for us this day. We left the hotel, made our way to Invisible Children where we prayed with the leadership there. We didn’t so much talk about all that had happened, we just sat with them, put our cameras away, and prayed with them in a difficult time. This impacted me greatly, as the world was speculating, and real lives and mission had remained unchanged. Now that leadership remains in tact and passionate as ever. How fickle and easily influenced people are by what they are told. As we sat with them, someone said to them, “You’ve always said this work isn’t about you, and it still isn’t.” The world would want to make it about them though, when just the opposite was true. Their efforts, along with Sister Rosemary’s have saved countless lives. While they activated a global awareness of the issues surrounding Kony’s ongoing terror, Sister Rosemary was dealing with so much of the aftermath. She’s currently enrolled over 2000 formerly abducted girls into her school and those that have been abandoned by their families.
Just around the corner, we visited Sister Rosemary at St. Monica’s. We had met her on the deck outside of our small hotel in Gulu, just the night before. We sat around eating pizza; an act of faith to eat anything in Africa when you can’t really see what it is. She told us a few stories, while bats flew over our heads, and all the discomfort of the situation left me as we began to talk about what we love most about Jesus. I still remember what I said. “He makes us new, and takes away the power of sin in our lives.” Sometimes from our own doing, and sometimes from what others have done to us.
And no one knows this better than Sister Rosemary Nyirumbi. And she offers this truth to all the formerly abducted girls she brings to her Vocational School.
She’s a woman that you can’t help but feel changed by when you meet her. It’s her joy, perseverance, and love of the people she serves that stands out. She had a great impact on me personally as we listened to her and learned all she’s done for the people of Gulu and the South Sudan. The girls that she brought in to teach trades, like sewing, gardening, and the buildings that she and the Sisters of the Sacred Heart built out of old water bottles, and purses from soda can pull tabs left us amazed at her resourcefulness. I was overjoyed to learn that they have created a documentary and book to tell her story. One of the most worthy stories that can be told. It’s still in the film festival circuit so we can’t see it yet. But I hope you’ll visit this site and encourage them. http://sewinghope.com/about-sister-rosemary
Gulu is a more peaceful place now. Many of the people there remember when it wasn’t, but will tell you that they feel much safer there now. Thanks to much of the work Sister Rosemary has done there, women and children have a new start and a new hope. CNN did a great video of her story some years back. CNN Heroes, Sister Rosemary. And now, all these years later, she has been named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2014.
If we take anything away from watching her life, it’s likely something that looks a lot like Jesus, like sacrifice, and the beauty of giving your life away. She is one of my personal heroes, and I stand in amazement of her courage. But mostly I stand in awe of the One she knows so well, that gives abundantly to his children, and how it’s always been Him working through her. And that makes me love Him more. I think Sister Rosemary would want it that way.