Yesterday was incredible. Groundbreaking. I've never seen anything like it. But then, I've never fought this hard for justice.
We woke up at 6 a.m., fasted breakfast, and headed out to the bus for Magunga by 7 a.m. We prayed the whole way and continued to pray as we exited the bus. We walked the grounds of Makrias Christian School, and we walked the roads leading to the childrens' center, interceding on behalf of the kids. Soon, the prayer walk became multipurpose as we visited people in the community on the way. We kept reminding each other as we grew closer and closer to the center that we come in peace. All we want to do is pray.
The day before last some of the children had told us that Simon Ochola was planning to take the orphans on a "vacation" to Kisii for 3 or 4 days--perfect; just in time for the court to present his case against us on August 4th.
But, what Simon chose he would leave vacant, we decided to fill with the Holy Spirit.
So we marched on. Mostly uphill instead of straight; mostly rocky instead of smooth. We marched on. Some were hungry; some were weary. We marched on. Some were wary; some were confused. We marched on. Nothing could stop us from praying. Our God is mighty to save; He can--He will--move this mountain.
As we drew near, a bundle of colorfully clad African women and children, arms linked, hands clapping, greeted us with a song of celebration. They hugged our necks, and they danced. The children grabbed our hands.
And we marched on.
It didn't even matter that Simon's hired thugs met us at the beginning of the road with words of hatred, riding Simon's motorbikes, advertising signs exclaiming, "go to hell!" and "God must go!" Ridiculous. These people actually believe Simon is a Christian pastor? I don't buy it. But they do; they admitted it! 200 shillings [about 2 bucks]. [sidenote: I don't really know what I meant in the previous two sentences...but that's what I wrote. Sorry!]. 200 shillings to bash someone they didn't even know. In fact, after they tried to run Gaye over two or three times with the motorbike, they stopped and asked Gaye, "Who is Mama Gaye?" and "Who is Ayungo?" [Andrew, a childrens' pastor in Magunga].
My only response to their actions was, "I only have one thing to say to all of you," and I had their attention, "I forgive you because you apparently don't even know what you're doing. You're supporting a wicked man who rapes orphans, and you don't even know it. I forgive you--because you don't even know what you're doing!" And my voice was chalky, and my face was sad. Brittany [a teammate] told me later that one man had tears in his eyes. Praise God. We come in peace. We love you. Karah, Michelle, and I [other teammates] even prayed for one of the men who said he is a Christian just trying to support his family; he said he had nothing against us; we explained how even working for money from the devil is working for the devil. This place is so corrupt I can only handle being here because I see Jesus in these peoples' eyes. Whatever you do for the least of these you do unto Me; whatever you don't do for the least of these you don't do for Me.
So we marched on.
We want as far as we could without entering the territory, then we stopped. And the community stopped. The looked confused. This is where we told them they have to stand up for themselves: "Take back your land!" we cried. They wanted us to take care of it, but we told them how the community leaders won't listen to us; they must do this thing--as the community.
At first they were discouraged, but we shouted words of encouragement; of victory. Now we told them to march on; "Don't back down!" Before we knew it, member by member, the community joined together to pick up a huge, heavy branch. They heaved and hoed and lifted the fallen tree into the middle of the road, blocking Simon's path so he couldn't kidnap the children to who-knows-where. But as we slowly backed away, heading back to the bus, leaving room for them to do it themselves, the community slowly backed away, too. We prayed they would go in peace; some grabbed stones to throw. Thankfully, others would lower their hands, reminding them "peace; not force." It was a beautiful thing.
Dawn [another team member], Karah, and I knelt down, in skirts, rocks digging into our legs, weeping, pleading unto the Lord for justice and mercy. One man from the community had his leg hit by a stone from one of Simon's thugs. We prayed for healing in the name of Jesus.
As we paused our backing away, once again, to see the status of the community, a car drove by full of policemen to kick Simon out--or so we thought. It was a bunch of fake policemen who had come to beat the community.
But we kept praying.
Suddenly a group of Kenyan leaders approached us, not to our surprise. The D.C. held up the document about the court order and gave us a little talking to that was completely unnecessary as we hadn't even stepped on the childrens' center grounds, and then, even more unnecessarily, he proposed we have a discussion with a group of leaders, including the immigration leader, D.C., D.O., and others with Simon to "work things out," which was pointless, since Simon paid most if not all of them to take his side on things. The only thing we got out of it was a soda, because the D.O., who led the "discussion," decided it would be a "monologue"--lecture--where he chewed us out for stuff we didn't even do, and we never got to share our side, of course. Dawn interrupted a couple times, anyway, which was good at least the second time because the D.O. accused us of creating "dissension in the unity of Christ" by not taking our responsibilities which were actually Simon's responsibilities--which is what Dawn clarified.
But we kept praying. And we rested. And we kept praying....