Before I left for Uganda, the Lord told me to bring new lesus to the women of Uganda. He told me to share the message of ‘carrying your cross’….and to give the women new lesus with a declaration on their back that they will carry their cross….the story of their child and how Jesus met them. Every time they would tie their new lesu on, they would be reminded that God Himself is wrapping His loving arms around them….and they are NOT alone.
I praised God for this unbelievable message and vision of these new lesus. But to be quite honest, a week before I left, I only had about 6 lesus donated.
I remember asking God “how?” and “are You sure?”. How in the world would I get enough money and fabric for all of these women of Gulu….and put the words on the back… cut them… finish them???
Finally, I quit trying to figure it out. I had contacted fabric places for donations, and everywhere I turned, the door was closed. I told the Lord, “If this is truly from You, You gotta make it happen….by the way Lord, I’m leaving in a week.” I think I even rolled my eyes when I finished praying.
Well…..that week became amazing. Out of no where people began to hand me cash and they would say, “The Lord told me to give this to you, not for your trip, but for blessing people, however you feel lead, use it…”
There were times when I would just laugh out loud in the joy of the Lord. With each gift, my family went to the fabric stores and made purchases. And every time, either my boys or my husband would tell the woman cutting the cloth how the fabric she was cutting would be used in Africa to save the life of the child. I loved watching them tell a stranger that babies in Uganda were normally drowned in a river because of their illness. My husband John would sometimes get loud, in his evangelistic way, and he would tell the clerk, “The curse is going to be broken! My wife is going to tell these women that they have believed a lie!”
Sometimes the women would brim with tears as they cut the fabric. Sometimes they were speechless. I just stood there, usually crying myself.
I’m just Shannon. I’m not a celebrity. Sometimes I WANT to be the person that my children and husband are beaming about…..and then I realize it is me!
I’m simply Shannon, so in love with Jesus Christ, that everything in me wants to chase people down and tell them about His Great Love. I want to tell them that they are His favorite. And that He died for them.
The day that I left for Uganda, I worked the morning of and returned home to find my family working an assembly line of lesus. Anderson and Avery would cut the words for the new lesus, then they would iron them, Ellie would tell everyone which fabric was her favorite and ask who it was going to….and John would delicately and precisely fold every lesu and pack them into a duffel bag (that couldn’t exceed 50 lbs) 🙂
John was in a zone though….I watched him for a few minutes and then realized what he was doing. He prayed over every lesu. All of the lesus were ready to go. Then he pulled me aside and he had tears in his eyes. He was holding one red lesu. “Shanny, this red lesu is for somebody VERY special. As I prayed for this lesu, the Spirit of God came over me, see I have chicken skin (our word for chills that we adopted from Kauai). I don’t know who this is for, but I can’t stop crying over their situation. God REALLY loves them. I’m packing it on top, its the last one on top, so it will be the first one you pull out.”
I held the lesu and I said, “John, there are no words on this one. It is the smallest one, and not even the nicest fabric. But ok.”
I think I may I rolled my eyes again. We had run out of words to put on the back, so this was the only one without words.
In a rush of finishing last-minute things, in no time we were out the door and headed to the airport. I forgot about the lesu, as I wouldn’t be in Gulu for another week.
When our team got to Gulu, midway through the trip, I located the duffel bag with the lesus and had Ashley and Sarah take the bag on the stage before I gave the message. I did not want the mammas to know that at the end of my message they would be receiving a new lesu. The lesus were for the mammas who answered the altar call and said “yes, I want to carry my cross. I want to lead others to Jesus through the story of my child.”
I gave the message with the help of an outstanding interpreter. At one point during the message, I shared with the congregation how I asked God to show me how much He loved me and how He gave me a vision of just He and I in a ballroom and He danced me around and LAUGHED with joy and delight in me. Tears streamed down these single moms faces. Many of them knew the pain of losing a husband either through abandonment or murdered by the LRA. I shared about the loss of two of my late-term miscarriages and they cried some more. But they saw me smile as I told them how God became my husband.
I asked them to close their eyes and ask God to show them how He loves them. I hoped He would give them the vision of a dance.
My interpreter put his head down on the altar and began to cry out to God. He was so moved that He was crying louder and louder. I had no idea that He would participate too. I was so blessed by his openness.
When I gave the altar call, one by one, the entire congregation came down front. They raised their arms high in surrender to the Lord to be used by Him. I couldn’t even speak. I saw the past years of hell that I had endured and the vision of going to Uganda all pass through my mind. It was overwhelming. You can’t imagine the criticism I have received for obeying God and going to Uganda….people thought I was crazy to go as a single mom. But in that moment, it was God making beauty for the ashes. He showed me that everything I had endured had been for His purpose and His glory….and Yes! I do hear from Him!
I had Ashley and Sarah come on stage and help me distribute the lesus. I was overwhelmed by the crowd and asking God, “are you sure we have enough? Because I think I need the fishes and loaves moment right now.” I remember seeing the red lesu on top and in a rush, didn’t think about what John had said. Some lesus I had to exchange for bigger babies, some needed heavier fabric….but when it was all said and done, I had three lesus left and had Ashley run the bag to the storage room. I was exhausted.
Pastor Nelson from CURE called me over to him and said in his beautiful Ugandan dialect, “We have a problem.” He looked so sad. Immediately I thought I had done something wrong. He had been very hands on with my message. He is a GREAT man of God, I thought maybe I had given the message wrong.
“Sister, we have a young woman here who heard your message and she cannot quit crying. It is very odd that she is here, but our staff has been ministering to her because her son just died suddenly. She is crying because she has no child to put in a lesu.” Pastor had tears in his eyes. Then mine did too. He told me that it wasn’t my fault because she really shouldn’t be at a children’s clinic with no child. He told me there was no way I would have known.
Instantly God brought the red lesu to mind. I knew it was for her! But there was no way I could still have it, it was the first one in the bag when I opened it. I knew if it was one of the three left in the bag, then she was the woman who John had been praying for. Ashley ran as only Ashley can do, and came back with the red lesu and a big smile.
Pastor pulled the distraught woman aside and translated my words to her in Acholi. She is from Gulu. I told her how before I left, John had prayed and wept for her. I told her that God had her on His heart long before I ever came and that He loved her. I gave her the red lesu with no words and wrote my own on it…
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
I told her that I didn’t understand, but God did. She began to cry.
God’s purpose was fulfilled that day in Gulu.
Thank you so much to all of my supporters who donated to “Lesu Love”. Thank you for being obedient when God just told you to “give”. I pray His blessings are poured out on you. Thank you for using me to touch these women’s lives.
These are all of my new sisters and some brothers :). All of these attendees received new lesus and sang a song of praise to Jesus right after we took this picture at the front of Gulu Baptist Church.
While the new lesus are great, I LOVE THEIR SMILES!!!!!!