Heartbreak and Hope: Conversations from Inside a Hut

Our Freedom 4/24 team in Uganda right now have experienced a roller coaster of emotions in this week. But one thing has been made clear to our team there: God is on the move at Christine’s House. Keep reading as one of our interns, Jaclyn Swyers, shares her experiences over the past few days at Christine’s House, our safe house for sexually exploited and trafficked girls in Gulu, Uganda.Our last few days with the girls of Christine’s House have been bittersweet, filled with both joy and pain, as many have shared their stories with us.In the past few days, I've asked God for so much wisdom and words to respond to what they have spoken. I've heard many heartbreaking stories, especially in the past two days as our team visited the homes of four girls who used to live at Christine's House for a follow up. Every story is similar, yet so different. It starts with embarrassment, and ends in tears. I am thankful that most of the tears are tears of appreciation and love, but many are still of pain. There is more pain in this world than I know, but I saw more this week than ever before. There is injustice all around me. Innocent girls are being deceived by their uncles, boyfriends, and even strangers. There is a lack of opportunity for success in poverty-stricken areas. The list can go on and on. Our world is not perfect, and more often than not, it is painful. 

Yesterday, our team visited a girl who was raped, became pregnant, and had her baby; he is now over a year old. Getting to her house was not easy. We were on a dirt road the size of a small sidewalk in a bus for more than an hour, and then when the bus stopped, we looked outside to see that someone's garden was blocking the "road" we were taking. There was no way of getting around, so we got off the bus and began to walk. I assumed it would be a quick walk, but we walked through tall bushes and terrain, came to a hut that wasn't our destination, and kept going through more bushes and trees. Finally, we reached the home.

The young girl we met inside that home told us she didn't think we would come this far out to see her. She was very grateful. The family put down woven leaves for us to sit on, and we all gathered inside the hut. The young girl’s child and mother were there with us as she told us her story through tears. She told us her dreams that she cannot achieve. She told us about her family separating, and how her son is always sick. The list went on and on and suddenly we were asked to given an encouraging word. What do I say to someone whose life is falling apart? Who has nothing but the clothes on her body, her son, and a few peanuts and chickens outside of her home? What are the words that can come from my mouth that would actually serve a purpose? Do I simply say, "don't give up" when I may have already if I were in their situation? Do I say, "God will provide” even though they do not have much? Do I say, "don't worry" when they worry daily if they will even survive? All I could do was weep, as I looked in her eyes and saw desperation and hopelessness.

When it was my turn to say something, all I could think of was heaven. I said to her, "I know your life does not seem very good now, but regardless of your circumstances, remember you have hope in heaven. And heaven is going to be greater than we could ever imagine."

Do you ever feel like you should desire heaven more than you do now? I do. Too often I think about how I want to get married, accomplish this, do that, and so on. I have never had more of a desire for heaven more than I did yesterday.

Revelation 21:4 says, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

That's it! That's the gospel! That's the end of pain and suffering. Heaven is our hope. There is no greater encouragement than to remind someone that one day we will be in Paradise, but for now, let's fight the good fight. I don't want to be held back in fear. I don't want to lose hope. I want to do as much as possible on earth, knowing one day, it will be over.

Jaclyn Swyers (right), has dreamed of working with human trafficking survivors in Africa since she was 15.
Jaclyn Swyers (right), has dreamed of working with human trafficking survivors in Africa since she was 15.

I don't know your story. I don't know what you’re going through, but I've heard the saddest stories this past week that I have ever heard in my life. Remember to not give up because you can't see where the finish line is. Run your race as best as you can because even when there is pain, it cannot last forever. Through Jesus Christ, our hope in heaven, we will spend eternity in His presence (along with, in my opinion, endless beaches and ice cream).

Keep up to date with what Freedom 4/24 is doing in Uganda. We need your help to continue the work that God is doing there. I can tell you first hand, YOU are making an incredible difference not just in one life, but also in the entire Gulu community. Your voice is being heard through runs, marches, radio shows, and the local government. The girls at Christine’s House are already showing signs of healing after only 3 months. You are making a difference. Thank you for all you doing to help eradicate human trafficking.

If you are not already apart of all the incredible things that are happening at Christine’s House, it’s not too late. There are 17 girls at Christine’s House right now who need your support! Become a recurring giver by visiting www.Freedom424.org/give to change a life at Christine’s House!