Tony Gaston shares some thoughts as we look to the year ahead.
“As we go into 2021, I’ve been thinking a lot about hope, and the difference between hope and positivity. Optimism takes no effort and no courage. It refuses to accept the challenges and just blindly assumes everything will be ok. Hope, on the other hand, takes absolute courage. It sees the difficulties ahead, adjusts, plans, pivots, and never gives up. Hope believes that no matter what will come, God can help us to find a way to persevere, and even death can’t defeat our hope!
Recently I was told of a story of Atek, a grandmother living near Gulu, Uganda. One morning she awoke to discover that her 12-year-old son, Hillary, had been abducted as a child soldier by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Only two years later, her husband was killed, leaving her alone and in extreme poverty. Atek spent many years hoping and crying out to God that she would one day see her son again. 10 years later, a woman arrived at her door with a five year old child. This woman told her that she also had been abducted as a child soldier, and that during her many years living in the camp, she married Atek’s son, Hillary. To her astonishment, Atek was not only being introduced to her daughter-in-law, but also her grandson, Denis.
Tragically, Atek was told that her son Hillary had been recently killed in a fight, freeing his wife to leave. Atek held Denis in her arms, weeping at the loss of her son, but also praising God that she had been granted the opportunity to embrace her grandson. At that moment, Atek knew that her newfound purpose was to look after her grandchild, and bring him up to have a future that her own son never had. Atek took Denis to Abura Primary school, where he is one of the sponsored children through Fields of Life and wants to be a teacher one day.
Atek’s story is one that exemplifies true hope. Atek never stopped hoping, and thanks to her resilience and strength, Denis has a hope for his future. Now 9 years old, Denis dreams to be able to provide for and care for his grandmother one day.
Atek’s story is just one example of hundreds of stories of hope that we are eager to share with you. Every month this year, we will be sharing Stories of Hope to encourage and inspire you to keep going during this difficult season.
This song, Sing it from the Shackles by Northern Irish group Rend Collective, is one of my favourite Christian songs. A line in the song says “When my strength and my fight is gone, I know you will come through.” For me, when I hear this song, I also hear the voices of countless young people in East Africa, like Atek & Denis, who are not giving up hope. Despite all they are going through, they lift their eyes to the hills… and remember who their help comes from. It is often said that charity is a two-way street, and we believe that this is just one of the many ways that we can learn from the young people we support; we can learn how to have hope through trials and adversities.
As we watch scenes of chaos in America and see our Ugandan friends face a turbulent election, as we enter another lockdown, as we hear about our health institutions being overwhelmed, as we long to hug and hold our loved ones, we need stories of hope more than ever. Click here to sign up to receive Stories of Hope.
As we embark upon 2021, let us enter with a renewed hope that no matter what this year throws our way, God can help us to adjust, pivot, plan and persevere.
Let’s be alone. Together.”