There is a family I have gotten to know via long distance communication who live in exile in Uganda as refugees 8000 miles away from Indiana in a foreign land of a foreign culture in the most extreme conditions. This is Jerry’s family. Zawadi is his wife, and their four children range in age from an infant daughter Anna born last Christmas, Joseph a toddler, Hope and David primary school age. Jerry also provides a home to a foster daughter Tumaini and his step-sister Emiliane.
We burn up the airwaves with countless messages, pictures and emails. I am writing late in the day while Jerry and family are sleeping. When he is up and replying to my messages, I am sleeping. There is an 8 hour time difference.
Nothing Seems To Be Working
Everything we have tried to do in order to bring hope and some income to Jerry and family has seemingly not worked. Prayers have been written in journals, prayed aloud and shared by instant message. We know God hears us but things move ever so slowly when you are trapped in exile in one of the most corrupt regions of the world.
Jerry shared with me that his two children who are in school could not continue to attend because Jerry did not have the funds to pay for the next installment of their tuition. It was a bitter day when they had to stay home from school.
Insult to Injury
Then Jerry shared a three-part front page investigative report from NBC News shedding light on the extreme corruption within UNHCR with regard to the resettlement of refugees. This is the United Nations refugee organization charged with managing all 68 million refugees around the world. Jerry is supposedly eligible to be resettled in a country like the United States due to being a refugee for over 10 years. Having read these three stories, I sunk into a pit of despair. Nothing short of Divine Intervention would ever get Jerry and his family relocated into a real life. Here are links to those NBC stories.
Lord Help Us-WE CANNOT DO THIS ON OUR OWN
I have written stories, I have shared Jerry’s story on the radio and with everyone I see, I have connected Jerry with organizations I work with to let him work for free designing graphic arts projects to create a portfolio in hopes of contracting paid work for the refugees. I submitted my stories to a Christian magazine I write for and nothing seems to be catching anyone’s attention.
I am disillusioned and Jerry is desperate.
At the point of exhaustion last night, I attended an event for one of the organizations Jerry designed flyers for. It is not lost on me that we have the most disenfranchised people group in the world, refugees who are in exile without a home, starving in a foreign land, supporting a US not-for-profit that supports a disenfranchised group of underserved minorities in the inner city of Indianapolis. What is a poor white woman doing working so hard for these groups? The God we all serve loves us all equally because we all come from the same place. We are called to help the least of these. As little as I have to give, I realize I am bloody rich compared to these two groups.
That Gentle Nudge
I never play 50/50 but I realized it was a way to raise funds for the CIRA organization and to do my part, I put $5 in the pot. I won the pot! I was blessed with $40 in winnings and immediately I thought of Jerry. Surely I could match this with funds of my own and rounded it up to $100 because is just looked better with three digits. I raced home with an urgency I did not understand and wrote Jerry a message before I went to bed. On the heels of so much bad news, I was so thankful one good thing had happened that might brighten his day. I knew he would not see my note until morning and then I would be sleeping.
At 2:45 am, there was a door knocking sound which is my notification from the communication app we use. I had forgotten to silence my phone. I reached for it and read Jerry’s response. The children were to test on Monday for their semester of learning. Because Jerry had no funds for their school, not only were the children unable to attend school for the past few weeks since the money ran out, but the entire semester would have to be repeated as they would not be able to sit for their semester tests.
Jerry went to bed so distraught at not being able to provide education for the children. He told me his wife woke up and was on her knees praying to God for some sort of miracle to keep the children in school. They had exhausted all hope and had no idea how they could find funds. Hours later, they awaken and my message was waiting for them. That gentle nudge, the idea to match the winnings, and then the desire to round up to three digits comes to $100 which is 363,681 Shillings which was exactly what the remainder of the tuition was for this semester.
So of course I had to get out of bed at 2:45 am, find my way to the computer in the dark, try to remember how to send Shillings to Jerry’s mobile money account so the funds would be available TODAY so he could pay the tuition TODAY so the children could take their test on Monday. We got it done. I smiled all day as it is not every day you get to be part of a miracle. Jerry and Zawadi praised God for the gentle nudge that created a magnificent miracle that answered their prayers. For all of us, our faith was refreshed.
PRAISING gOD FOR GENTLE NUDGES
And as much as we ask God to bind the hands of all those corrupt officials and punish them for their cruel, thieving and heartless acts and how we ask God to cut through all the bribes and corruption in order to legitimately relocate Jerry to Indiana, we are most happy that $100 US dollars was like the parting of the Red Sea. We praise God for gentle nudges.
Want to know more about Jerry’s story?
Read the entire African Refugee series at TheStoryTeller.net
Polly Riddell writing as G. Polly Jordan is a freelance journalist connecting people through the stories they tell.