For any church that has some history behind it, as SBCC does, there are among its members an accompanying number of “whys?” that are asked about the brokenness and loss that have been experienced in life. There are no easy, and seldom palatable, answers in the middle of the night, nor, I dare say, can they be found in the Bible in the middle of the day…! As the life of Job confirms to modern day sufferers, there is little solace in cerebral musings. Brokenness and loss are painfully severe because the solace one really wants seems only to be found in the hope or person that was lost to us. Jesus himself suffered in this same way: we learned from recent preaching that the true suffering of the Cross was the relational separation of Christ from God. And we, likewise being relational beings, suffer similarly and terribly when relationships are broken or even lost to us through death.
This is where our family’s history intersects with Uganda. Our son died 5 years ago and we still have no answer for this “why”. In the wake of the tragedy, we set up a scholarship fund in his honor through Sports Outreach. It made no sense to our hearts that we would be setting up a memorial for our 18 year old boy, but it seemed a way to stand against the tide of darkness surrounding his death.
We were grateful for those involved in Sports Outreach who had demonstrated their commitment to reaching the poor and needy and whom we could trust to administer funds responsibly. This past year, though, my husband Norm and I felt we needed to go to Uganda to see for ourselves how the Popp Scholarship Fund actually works. We came back full of gratitude for having seen many lives changed in the name of Christ through the scholarship team at Sports Outreach. We were so humbled by the faithfulness of the leaders who go into the slums, identify needy children and mentor them through school. They are the real heroes of the scholarship fund. The young men who have given their time and lives to care not only for the education of these children but also for their whole lives/families were such a gift to witness. We saw the joy on these children’s faces and on the faces of the staff working with them and felt blessed.
The mystery of finding blessing in the midst of suffering in the lives of the people Sports Outreach is serving, simply confirmed to me the mystery of God’s grace. Even while we stumble about in this broken world, He invites us to join with Him in the mystery of redemption. I don’t understand it, nor does it mollify my sense of our loss, but it is a blessing. Mother Teresa said it well: “There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is so much suffering and pain. Then suddenly, the Spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways”. (From The Heart of a Volunteer) The work of Sports Outreach is indeed a reflection of the Spirit coming into the darkness – both ours and the lives of the slum children. For more information on the scholarship fund, check out the link, http://andrewshope.org.