Several years ago a young man named Daniel and his sister were in an accident. The sister died and the young man suffered debilitating breaks to both legs and a severe head injury that caused brain damage. In the years to follow the young man suffered with his physical wounds and with the grief over the loss of his sister.
Today that young man's body was recovered from a nearby crater lake where he took his own life Friday morning. Jeff and our boys together with Derrick and other men from our church led the several day search.
In the recovery today, Jeff and Isaac swam the body to shore where our boys and men of the village moved the body onto a stretcher and carried it to an awaiting vehicle. This was a gruesome experience but everyone stepped in to assist with mercy for the family of this young man.
After the body was recovered, Jeff and his team participated in the burial with Jeff speaking and sharing in a time of prayer with the young man’s family and his home village. This too was a proclaiming act of mercy.
Among our local community this type of death is treated with heavy shame. In the case of suicide it is common for people to beat the body of the deceased, toss the body into a grave “like a dog” and very few churches will even perform a funeral service. The dignity Jeff offered into this circumstance today spoke loudly to all involved.
Your prayers have helped make such a difference.
In Fort Portal there are two men known for search and recovery in the event of a drowning. Jeff is one. The other is a witch doctor.
The witch doctor charges exorbitant fees and calls on evil spirits to recover a body for a grieving family. He is known to hide the body when he finds it and then charge the family per day for his searching.
Jeff and his team of Christian men call on the name of God, charge nothing and declare courage over fear.
Anytime Jeff steps in to act in these circumstances there is the chance that the body will not be found. Jeff has searched 6 different occasions through the years and found 3 bodies. (The bodies were eventually recovered in the other three but after some time.) The lake involved over the last few days is 330 metres deep at the deepest point. Jeff was the only diver. The odds were well against the recovery of this young man’s body. We had been persistently praying for God to bring the body up. He did.
We see the recovery of this body as God’s direct intervention as a result of the prayers of many. We give all glory to Him, our Father who sees and acts.
Today, there was more.
As an act of 'spiritual cleansing,' it is also traditional here to burn around a lake where someone has died. In the drought of this dry season, grass fires spread quickly and can do much damage. Just after the burial, Jeff and our boys were called on to help fight one of these ‘cleansing’ fires that had grown large and was threatening a nearby lodge. Jeff guided the lodge staff in fire fighting techniques and the fire was contained. Immediately following that, an alarm sounded that one of the fire fighters was dying from smoke inhalation. The man was seriously affected and nearly died twice while Jeff worked with him. As of this evening the man was improving and headed to the hospital for oxygen and further healing treatment.
Quite a day. A grueling crater lake search and recovery, standing for a dignified burial in a sea of fear and shame, fire fighting and life saving. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Today has born many signs of that.
This day has also born signs of God’s redemptive power and the beauty of mercy in the midst of pain.
Your continued prayers for Daniel's family as they suffer in grief are so appreciated. And your generous ‘standing alongside’ those in your own community who grieve begs to be emphasized too. Daniel felt he had no way through his grief and loss. He believed he was alone. When we grieve the people nearest us can speak truth into that lie the best.
The Cash men have seen some difficult sights today and worked very hard to help others. Your continued prayers for each of them as they process today’s events are so appreciated.
Thank you for standing with us in this battle. We are grateful for the mercy of burial for Daniel’s grieving family and we are grateful for every moment that proclaims our God as mighty over all.
We brace for our Presidential Elections in Uganda (they begin tomorrow) with this covering over us:
Our God reigns. He moves with us through every season.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;”
We are not alone.
Remind someone of this today.