Everything has an end; good, bad and everything in between. An end can bring relief, even rejoicing, but it always carries loss too. Karamoja Education Outreach was closed in December. It was time. Local schools have opened preschools, our classes were dwindling, and we lost our very capable administrator to her upcoming marriage! It was an extremely difficult decision, heart wrenching to send the children and teachers away. But we are not the savior and cannot carry every load, no matter how bitter it tastes to set it down.
The teachers’ first response was thankfulness for the many years of work, education for them and the children, and care from the mission even during covid. Karimojong accept the end of things with no illusions of eternity. Yes, everything must come to end. We’re thankful it existed at all.
The closure itself was rattled with community leaders ranting against the mission and how the closure was going to kill the children, kill the parents, kill the community, and should kill the mission finally. The same leaders who had protested the opening of KEO nine years earlier. We submitted to the inevitable gauntlet, albeit not with perfect grace. When we could finally leave the stuffy room and the endless, pointless speeches filled with lies and venom, I was filled with joy and pity. What a way to display the difference between darkness and light? How poor and empty those leaders showed themselves to be to anyone who had eyes to see?
Unfortunately, the teachers swallowed fragments of discontent that chaffed and bled the next day when we began the process of cleaning out the school and sharing its bounty with them. Greed reared its head; disputes broke out when they thought I wasn’t looking or couldn’t understand. Maybe I didn’t. Items grew legs and walked away that I said should remain. We couldn’t even share the remaining trash with children waiting at the gate for fear that they would hurt each other over pages torn out of old books.
All this simmered and singed my heart. What is the godly response to fear of the unknown, to loss of employment and status, to persecution from unbelievers, and to poverty? We were then forced to take time to discuss these matters with the teachers. It was a subdued discussion, penitent, I hope. I probably talked too much and didn’t listen enough. A common fault I seem to show off regularly. Despite my failings, when we gathered for the last time together the group was brimming with thanksgiving. We took time to list them – the Lord’s faithfulness, His provision, goodness and love, the strength He had given us all to reach that day and more. They left with money in their pocket, and an opportunity to trust God in ways the previous years had not provided. Some I know will take it, others I implore the Lord they will. But we parted as friends, knowing that praise to God for His works is a fitting end.