“When Devine was three years old, her mother found her bleeding in the forests of Congo after being raped by rebel soldiers. Devine’s mother scooped up her child and carried her two miles out of the forest. Unable to provide what her wounded daughter needed, she placed her in the arms of a man who took her to a care center for survivors of gender-based violence. Now a teenager, Devine is radiant. She is a leader among her peers. Her smile and song tell a story of survival. After all Devine has experienced, why is she so strong today?
Because someone believed in her. Because someone believed she was larger than her past and stronger than her greatest pain.
Nelson is a timid yet strong young man who lives in Uganda. When he was ten years old, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) brazenly stormed his village in the middle of the night. Nelson woke to the sound of gunfire and the piercing screams of the mutilated. Smashing into his family’s straw hut, soldiers jerked Nelson up from his mat on the dirt floor and screamed commands he could not comprehend. He finally understood the horrific orders as the soldiers repeatedly pointed to his parents and forced a machete into his hands. Nelson was spattered with the blood of his parents, and their screams battered his ears. His hands were tied above his head and his feet were bound with chains. For two days and nights, he was prodded by the butts of rifles and led deep into the forest.
Today I sat at his feet as he bravely shared the story of his art-therapy drawing in front of several other children who had experienced similar pain. We walked back to our huts, holding hands. During our final day together, he allowed me to wash his feet as a sign of renewal and redemption. We wept together. Now a teenager, he dreams of caring for other orphaned children when he completes his schooling. Why is Nelson able to dream today?
Because someone believed in him. Because someone believed he was larger than his past and stronger than his greatest pain.
There is a little girl in the United States. She lives inside the body of a grown woman. A woman who, because of her past and her pain, had given up on herself and on life. But this little girl . . . this woman . . . found purpose in the story of a girl in Congo named Devine and a boy in Uganda named Nelson. Because of these children and many more, her greatest heartache turned into her greatest ministry, and grace came full circle.
Because God never stopped believing in her. Because purpose can come from pain.”