Tuesday, November 10, 2009

She wanted to die...

From: Brant Hanson (Who is currently in Afghanistan)

From Kabul: Thinking About Little Flowers

I'm so excited! I can't breathe!

I wish the second sentence had to do with the first, but...no. I "can't breathe" because Kabul is dust. Dust, at high altitude, mixed with a heapin' helpin' of good ol' fashioned pollution, just like the kind grandma used to make when she set all the neighborhood tires on fire.

Good times.

It's equally true, though, that I'm very excited. Rain can tamp down the particulate matter, and rain is a rare thing here... but it rained last night. And rain, in a place like this, can mean little flowers, almost instantly popping up in the ever-present brown-ness of things. And little flowers, growing in acres of tragic, land-mined dust, mean God is not through with this place yet.

And, my friends, He is not.


A little girl, maybe 10, is carried in by her mother to CURE's hospital here. She is burned from her chest down. Her abdomen, the insides of her arms, the insides of her legs. She is burned in this curious manner, because she hugged a heating stove, as tightly as she could. She wanted to die. It was the only way she could figure out of her life of abuse, and her upcoming marriage to another abuser.

It gets sadder: CURE's doctors knew what she did, because she's not the first they've seen with these burn patterns.

Women, more grown-up women, set themselves on fire here, trying to get out. Read about it yourself, sometime. It is hardly uncommon. They suffer in ways that American men or women simply cannot understand. I can't unpack all of this in a blog entry, and have only recently really begun to take it in, myself, but this is life here: It is, for a great deal of the population, for women and children, often worse than death. (CURE's hospital here, in the name of Jesus, not only gives women knowledge, it gives them hope, even training them to become doctors.)

Babies are hope, and babies are meaning, and women here often lose all three. In fact, the infant mortality rate is among the highest on the planet. What's more, doctors here tell me: the maternal mortality rate is also at the top. Moms give birth at home, have no heathcare, no medical advice, and no one with any knowledge helping them. Their babies so often die, and often, as they get back to work immediately -- literally, immediately -- after giving birth, so do they.

And dust returns to lifeless, colorless dust.


But, like I say, it rains here sometimes, and little flowers pop up, and, my friends, God has not left the building. Or stable, if you will. He knows about being born in dust. He knows about poor mothers, about their tears, and about turning mourning into dancing. He knows about little girls with horrific burn patterns. And His Kingdom is about setting things right.

Did I mention it rained here last night? This story ain't over.



God draws close to the Broken-Hearted.

Brant Hansen
Sending Out the Invitations (Another Letter from Kabul)

"She grow up and never be married. She will be ashamed. She will not go to school. She will live with her parents her whole life, and she will be shunned. Her parents will be shunned as well. She will not have a wedding, and will not be invited to other weddings." 

Dr. Hashimi said this twenty minutes ago, as he hovered over her face -- her tiny face -- and threaded sutures. "She" is seven months old, a baby with tape over her eyes. We had asked him, "What will happen to her if she does not have this surgery?"

But today, she had this surgery. I got to hover over her little face as well, and think, and then he suddenly finished, and looked up, pushed his chair back, and said, "Now...now she will go to school. And she will have a wedding."

God loves little baby girls. And God loves weddings.


If you read the Bible in an honest way, you can't miss it: God draws close to the broken-hearted.And He draws near to the poor, the weak, the vulnerable, the powerless, the hurting, the outcast, and the shunned. We, on the other hand, like to draw near to the powerful, the healthy, the popular, the seemingly whole. We grant them status.

But the Kingdom of God turns it upside down. The first are last. And a little girl in Afghanistan, born an outcast with a deformity, called "cursed"? In God's economy, she has status. I watch her little chest move up and down, and her tiny mouth sewn together, and suspect I'm watching royalty.

This building, this CURE International hospital is a squat, grey, concrete building, down the road from a former palace that's now rendered drab. (Oddly: The only bright flash of color on a building I've seen here is at "Little Las Vegas", a very place with a neon sign out front. It's just down the road.) But forget the palace. the King resides here now. And -- Vegas would understand -- it's apparent the King hasn't left the building.


When I was a kid, we had posters up at school about brushing our teeth. Here, there's the occasional poster to teach kids about the difference between real toys, and land mines designed to look like toys. Land mines are here, there, and eveywhere.

I asked a knowledgeable person today: "So who's responsible for all these mines?" and the answer was, "Pretty much everybody."

Pretty much.

To study Afghanistan's history (and good luck making sense of it, the string of wars and takeovers is unending) is to sigh and scratch your head. Think about it: This country has been invaded from the north, the south, the west, and the east. It has been bombed from above and, as little kids even learn, below. Left and right, up and down, from without and, unceasingly, from within.

And little kids, for centuries, have been collateral damage. I look at her, and I think, no, sweetie, I would not want to be you. I would not want to be a baby girl in Afghanistan.

But this one is in CURE International's hospital, a place that's here because some people love Jesus, and love how he loves little Afghan baby girls. And I start crying, because I'm hovering over her face, and this little one is not collateral damage. She is knit together with a seam.

They called Jesus the great physician. CURE's tagline made sense then and there, it makes sense here and now: "Healing changes everything."

The Doctor is in the house.

And He loves weddings.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

God. You. Are. Good.

Even if today hadn't happened you would be--why is it when I calm down and trust you--that things happen?