Some time back, you may have heard via the Okkens about some reported cases of witchcraft in Karamoja (if you didn’t, you can read about them here and here). The particular case of Luomo Gabriel has been on the hearts and minds of the congregation and the mission here on an ongoing basis. Our first Sunday here, we took the weekly offering with the expressed intent of giving it as a gift to the family of Gabriel. Some of this money was given in the form of food for the family, the rest has yet to be used pending discussion between the mission and some of the members of the congregation on how it might best be spent to help.
Since that time, Dave and our visiting intern, David, have been to visit Gabriel several times, trying to reach him with the Gospel. No one is sure how much he understood or received because he has basically been in a catatonic state for some weeks. His wife, Lucy (the woman who does laundry for Chloe and me), has been buying antibiotics to fight infection in the many bedsores he has developed as a result of his illness.
Today in church, we found out that he had finally succumbed—whether to sickness or infection, no one knows—and died yesterday. It was decided that we would cancel Sunday School and go to Nakaale village to be with the family. Intern David preached from Romans 12 on the various members of Christ’s body coming together to make the Church, and made a direct appeal to those listening that we should come together as the Church and minister to Gabriel’s family. The response was wonderful and many people walked to Nakaale afterward (Sunshine Okken courageously stayed behind to watch over the children as all of the pastors, teachers, and translators wanted to go to the village).
We all filed into the village and stood around the grave—Gabriel is buried beneath a mound of dirt next to his family’s hut—and Dave read from John 11. He said, “I haven’t come to raise Gabriel, but to remind us that he will be raised one day when Christ returns. We can’t know his heart, but we pray that he died trusting in Jesus and that he will be raised to new life.” Kialu, one of the workers at the clinic, prayed for the family; Omena, one of our translators, led the congregation in a few songs, and we stood quietly for awhile. Eventually, we offered our condolences to Lucy and the rest of Gabriel’s family and we filed out of the village.
It was a bittersweet morning—seeing and participating in such great suffering is always heart-rending. The finality and destructiveness of death is not something that can ever be smoothed over, but seeing how the Church as a body has come together to minister to this family is a wonderful sight to behold.
Wow..the witchcraft situation is pretty intense. Great to see the church function as a living body. I will pray it will continue to meet Lucy’s needs as she now a widow. Have no idea what that must be like in their culture but I’m guessing it is more difficult than it is here in the US.
Thank you Christopher. What an expression of the grace of God and a powerful Christian witness in a time of need.