“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength…they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
The village landscape took my breath away. Ugandan hillsides are glorious, but keep you panting as you walk up their winding slopes. I tried to ignore my aching calves as I pressed on towards a flat landing partway up a steep incline.
Nearing stable ground, I noticed a boy sleeping awkwardly in the dirt. 'That’s odd,' I thought. 'Most Ugandans hate sitting in full sun. I wonder why he’s just lying there.' Confused, I shifted closer to him. Tiny beads of sweat covered the child’s entire forehead and thick dust caked to his exposed skin. His lips were smothered in thick saliva.
“Oli-Mulwadde?” (“Are you sick?”) I called to him. No answer.
“Oli-Mulwadde?” I voiced again. Still nothing.
A young man who looked to be about 18 approached us, also kneeling beside the unresponsive child. The young boy suddenly opened his eyes—they were unnervingly glazed. Clearly, this child was in need of immediate medical attention.
“Let us take him to the hospital.” I directed my gaze upward toward the village clinic. Standing on either side of the child, the two of us held his thin arms firm. We tried to help him walk, but the boy’s legs dragged weakly behind us.
I again looked up at the clinic building and frantically realized that at this rate, the steep slope was going to keep us from reaching it in time. This boy couldn’t walk. And suddenly, I knew I had to walk for him.
In that moment, the Lord gave me strength. I hoisted the boy’s limp body into my arms. His head rested over my left arm, his legs hung over my right, and his hands dangled toward the ground. Holding him limp against me, I began to run straight up the slope towards the clinic doors.
The climb was a blur, but I reached the top, shaking. Astonishingly, I spotted one of our other group members witnessing there. He had been interacting with patients who were waiting outside the medical center. Steve, six-foot-seven and once a police officer, was unphased as I collapsed the child’s body into his arms.
Steve rushed inside and placed the boy on a medical bed. I grabbed his hand, keeping him calm while the nurses began to run tests. Unsurprisingly, they suspected malaria. An IV was administered and I watched as the boy’s foggy eyes began to brighten as he became lucid once more. The sweat on his face dried and he began reacting to the doctor’s directions. At this point, I asked the child for more information.
“I am called Colin; I’m 9 years old,” he whispered. I asked if his mother lived close by. “I go to boarding school, down there.” He pointed out the window. No family around—I held his hand a little tighter.
After a while, a nurse moved Colin into another room. The young man who had helped move his motionless body earlier joined us there. I quickly discovered he was employed by Colin’s boarding school. He began contacting other school administrators for assistance.
I waited until Colin and I were alone in the hospital room, and asked if I could pray with him. He nodded. I lay my hands on his sticky forehead and called out to God, asking Him to heal Colin’s sick body. The boy lay still, intently listening to every word flowing from my mouth. I ended the prayer with an “amina” and gifted Colin with a Hope magazine, reading a few verses from the section on Pslams.
After confirming further assistance for the child, I gave Colin a final word of encouragement, assuring him that Jesus was by his side. As I let myself out through the raggedy sheet covering the clinic door, I turned around to see Colin hugging the Hope magazine to his chest.
I cannot explain how I was able to carry an 80-pound child up a steep Ugandan bluff. Yet when I found the motionless Colin baking in the dirt, the Lord provided me with unexplainable physical, emotional, and spiritual strength. Even though I could hardly manage to see the top of the hillside where the medical clinic stood, God filled me with the supernatural power to get there.
In life, when Christians come across a steep “slope” ahead, it’s difficult to imagine how the Lord will help us face the arduous journey. Reaching safety at the end may seem like too great a struggle to attempt the climb. But we can trust the power of Christ living in us, because when He calls you to move, God will assist you in overcoming any obstacle. No matter what physical, emotional, or spiritual state you find yourself in, He will pick you up and carry you to the top.