Devine Aswa from Arua, Uganda was a gifted child. He had a clever mind. His English was more fluent than Ugandan children of three times his age. He knew his mind too. Even as a two year old he wanted to be called after the family name rather than his given name. He was a vibrant wee man. Entertaining. Charismatic. Very funny. This past summer particularly he was like our Fitzroy team mascot. With us every day in the school. Loved by all of us.
We heard this week that little Devine had passed away. He was only five years of age. He had been born with heart defect. Not that you would have known from his energy. Even heart surgery in India didn’t end up saving him.
We in Fitzroy are heartbroken. We dedicated this morning’s service, which was a feedback about our trip this past summer, to him. There were tears. Lots of them.
This is what our partnership in Onialeku is all about. Tears and heartache.
I had watched for thirty years as churches raised amazing amounts of money for mission and development. It was then sent to a big organisation who took it and did amazing things with it. BUT… there was a lack.
There was a lack of relationship. A lack of mutual sharing. Of mutually sharing our poverty and wealth. Without relationship our giving is easy, one dimensional, impotent and not the God modelled way.
Relationship is the entire point of God’s design. Eden sees the masterplan. Relationship. The Fall broke up all the original relationships. The New Jerusalem sees the vision of all things restored. With God everything is about things is relationship.
In between Eden and that new Jerusalem, God came among us in relationship. Emmanuel - God with us. Jesus incarnation, cross, resurrection and ascension were about veils being torn, walls broken down - restored relationship.
In mission we need to be in relationship. We don’t work for so much as being with. We can work for people, without ever knowing anything about those we work for. God’s model is BEING WITH.
This is why I encouraged Fitzroy to get into relationship. I wanted us to send our money to a community that we would be in partnership with. We cannot therefore hide from the poverty that they have to live through. We have to respond to it in our own lives. Also in such partnerships they can pray for us and teach us about our own poverty. Mutual sharing.
This week we mutually share with our Onialeku community the grief of losing our little brother, son, nephew. He is buried with his Grandfather Bishop Isaac Aswa whose death broke our hearts back in 2016. Aswa family be assured of our prayers, our tears, our love, our mutual grief.
Our consolation is that for 10 days this past July we gave little Devine the time of his life… as he did us… we got to share 10:10 (life in all its fulness) with him!