Sharon Wins the DayRich Stigall
It’s a little past midnight here and we’ve wrapped up our day. There’s much we could discuss. But sometimes a single story so transcends the bounds of ordinary events, that one can think of little else. Such is the case now.
Today we met a woman whom the Lord has brought as a candidate for our E African team. We’ll call her Sharon (to protect her real name). I’ll dispatch with editorializing and let her story speak.
Sharon, her four siblings, and their mother and father lived in a village in the Congo. A larger tribe attacked her smaller tribe in war and routed her village. Sharon ran, not knowing who, if anyone, survived at home. She ran for her life, through the bush and into Uganda.
Alone and scared, she entered a church for shelter. She found the pastor there. He listened to this young 19 year old girl’s plight. Without hesitation, this man of God contacted his wife to tell her that they have a daughter to care for. And this couple took Sharon into their home, that night, committed to care for her as they would their other children. That’s just what they did.
The family discovered that this young lady is quite bright. They paid to have her enroll in Uganda’s top university. There was one problem: the college required that students learn in English, and Sharon did not speak English. With some cajoling from her influential caretakers, the school agreed to let Sharon enter for a three month trial to see if she could pick up enough English to scrape through.
Sharon didn’t scrape through. Rather, she completed the three months, then the first year, and then all the way through. She got her Bachelor degree in Social Work and Social Administration. And get this, she finished FIRST in her graduating class.
Sharon accomplished this amidst the most incredible pressure. Yearning to know whether her parents survived, Sharon set out one time on a journey to the Congo to go to her home village. When she crossed the border in the bed of a crowded truck, she found the tribal war still raging. A mob opened fire on the truck, killing those in the back. Sharon survived because bodies fell on top of her and the attackers assumed all were dead. When they left, Sharon was able to flee through the bush back to Uganda.
Unbeknownst to Sharon, her parents had survived. Two of her brothers had not. And her parents assumed that Sharon, too, had perished. Sharon’s surviving family in the Congo held a funeral service for Sharon and her two brothers. You can imagine their shock and praise to the Lord when, sometime later, Sharon summoned the courage to go back again, this time successfully, and appeared from nowhere before her parents’ eyes.
Sharon is now a strong, dignified, talented lecturer at universities in Uganda and the Congo. She is a leader in church body and community development, particularly with women (who carry so much of the community and family burden). Words like “sustain” and “empower” are not fancy buzz words for Sharon. They are very real. Personal. Life v Death. Dependence v Dignity.
As you might gather, Sharon has a special passion for the orphan. As she put it, “I know what it’s like to think, ‘I am all alone.’ And also to realize that I am not, as I learned God was with me. I know what it is like to pray for my daily bread as a child.” And as you might gather, Sharon has a deep personal relationship with the Lord through Christ Jesus.
Yes, this ministry is about the orphans at the end of the line; about the local church; about sustainability. But it’s so much more. My heart swells in the Lord when I think of Sharon encouraging and developing our mommas, and teaching the broader church community about the possibilities of these little ones and the opportunities (not burdens) they present. God is so good. So beyond our fathoming.
I don’t fully know where this connection with Sharon leads. Please pray for that clarity. I do know this: she encouraged all of us to dig deeper, to trust more. God is, indeed, on His throne.
Let me end with this, as I know Sharon would. To God be the glory for what He has done and will yet do through Sharon.