Saturday, November 19, 2016

We Help a Friend Pack Some Suitcases

If your job was helping children and adults whose lives have been disrupted by war, genocide, trauma, and incarceration, where would you start? This month, Becca Jordan-Irwin starts with a trip to the dollar store.

She’s the president (and, she jokes, janitor) of Charizomai International, a nonprofit she started to allow her to serve in a variety of ministries in a variety of capacities. This month, she’ll be a member of the Care Corps International team serving in Gulu, Uganda, caring for children who have suffered from the disruption of years of war and genocide.

Becca is on staff with Care Corps, and served with them in Gaza (“definitely the scariest place I’ve ever been,” she said. “If the border closes, you can’t get out.”), working with teachers and children. In the United States, she’s worked with refugee children and with women in prison. In all her work, she shows the love of Christ through words and deeds ranging from hugs to hospitality. We got to know her when she and her husband Dave served as our pastors at Healdsburg Community Church.

On her next trip with Care Corps, she’ll be serving alongside several other local ministries (including Sports Outreach, which is a catalyst in the recent movie Queen of Katwe) will be helping children in Gulu move through the suffering and difficulties of their lives toward a healthy future. They do this largely by means of art and play therapy techniques (which make use of those dollar store supplies) that allow the children (and even adults) to express their experiences in a safe way, enabling them to heal from past trauma.

Last year, the team was able to help around 300 children. They came from villages all around Gulu (one group of about 75 traveled in a dump truck. Others walk long distances; some don’t have shoes) for a week-long camp.

Many of the local leaders and pastors were abducted and forced to be child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army; now, they are able to share their stories to help others realize that God has better plans than what they’ve experienced in their lives so far. By openly admitting to their pasts while living a life that demonstrates the love and forgiveness God provides through Jesus, these leaders are able to help and encourage the people of their communities to accept that same love and forgiveness.

Becca told us, “A lot of times, it just helps to have our support. The biggest thing is just getting supplies to the kids.” At the same time, she added, “God uses the Care Corps staff in a powerful way.” The supplies, ranging from balls of yarn to play dough, fill the two suitcases Becca will be bringing to Gulu. The support -- emotional, financial, physical, and spiritual -- is less compact. She relies on donations of money and materials; she trusts God for the emotional, physical and spiritual strength the ministry and travel require.

I’m grateful and honored to be her friend.