TURNING MY TRIALS INTO TRIUMPHS (continued)
by Darlene McComis O'Lena March 26, 2016
The next morning was Sunday. We left at 7:30 a.m. for a two hour drive up into the mountains to a small town called Ruzizi. There we met the pastor and his wife at their house. It is a big thing for these people to have visitors. The hugs abounded! They set out bananas and breads to eat. They also provided Chai tea. We had some prayer time, then walked behind their house to the church. The church wasn’t very old and wasn’t completely finished. It still had mud walls and a dirt floor. But the worship time was wonderful! Songs were sung in their language with a choir. I didn’t understand all the words, but our interpreter, Kabuto, who had come with us, explained the words to me. They were all about Jesus, being covered in His blood, the King of Kings, etc. You could just FEEL the Holy Spirit in the room. Randall preached that morning and Kabuto interpreted to the people there. The pastor announced to the people that I would be speaking in the afternoon at 3 p.m. and all the women were invited.
65 women showed up to hear me speak! I’ve been a speaker in the past and also a teacher for a few years, but I didn’t have a clue what I was going to say to these women. I would have Kabuto to interpret for me, which I had never done before either. So I decided to give my testimony. I talked about sexual abuse, physical abuse, and verbal abuse that I was a survivor of. Then I talked about being a widow. It turned out that more than half the room was widows. As I talked about the depression, loneliness, and anger that comes with being a widow, I saw a woman in the front row nodding her head with everything I was saying.
I finally took a moment and said “I keep watching this woman and I see that she has agreed with everything I am saying about being a widow.” I walked up to her and she said “Yes, I am a widow. I know all about depression and anger. I didn’t know that American women had this happen too.” I hugged her and went back to talking.
Then I noticed that there was an older woman in the front row who looked very unhappy. I started talking to her and found out that her husband had been killed in the Genocide. His body had actually been chewed on by street dogs. I didn’t know what to say. Lord, what do I do? I could tell that she was very bitter. I finally asked five women to come up, lay hands on her, and we would pray over her. We prayed and she sat back down. I could tell that this woman was stuck in her grief, even though the Genocide had happened twenty years ago. From what we could tell, this woman only came occasionally to church and sort of “wallowed” in her bitterness and grief. She was unable to move on. And it seemed that the other women were tired of hearing her story. It was interesting to see the women that HAD moved on and this woman that HADN’T. I encouraged them to stick together, to care about each other, to pray together, and to help each other. Only a widow knows the feelings that another widow is feeling. I shared Psalm 37:4 with them: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I told them, also, that Jesus is a husband to the widows. He is ALL we have, but He is ALL we need. When I finished speaking, all the women rushed up to me and hugged me. It seemed that the talk had gone well.
On Monday, we took a drive out to Rusheshe to visit the sewing center where women were learning to sew clothes to sell in the marketplace and bring in money to their families. These younger women so strongly desired to learn a skill so that they could be able to earn an income. Once again, I was asked to speak. Laura said, “Why don’t you just give your testimony again?” So, once again, I began my story. There were a few widows in the group, but what amazed me was the way that God turned my story this time and took it down another path. As I once again talked about the abusive background, I could see the look in these women’s eyes that they HIGHLY understood what I was talking about. I talked about how I had a hard time forgiving myself for things that I had done in my past even though I knew that God had forgiven me.
When I asked if anyone in the room had a question or anything to share, the room got quiet. Then, one by one, women began sharing stories similar to mine. Laura told me later that Rwandan women seldom share things like that and that the women had really responded well to me. It was good for them to talk their feelings out. They also said that they didn’t know that American women had the same problems as the Rwandan women. Laura shared with them that I had many medical problems, but had wanted to come to Africa all my life and now had a chance to do it.
It brought a feeling of comradery between us as we talked about God’s love for us. At the end, I shared with them Philippians 3: 13b… “…Forgetting what is BEHIND and straining toward what is AHEAD, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Many hugs were given before I left that day….
When I got home, Randall, Jennifer, and I discussed the talks I had done in the two days there. I felt that NOW I knew why God had sent me there. These women needed to hear what I had to TELL them. THAT was my purpose. As someone put it, “God turned your TRIALS into TRIUMPHS.”