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My Heart Remembered…But Dont Know If it Still Means the Same Thing

Before, Just before my heart remembered to love you

It recalled the pain it had felt when you last left

I can no longer remember why our story ended the last time

I must have thrown it into the sea of forgetfulness

But tonight my heart remembered some things

Though I dont know if they still mean the same thing.

My heart remembered the pain of not knowing what being with you was about

My heart remembered the thrill of holding your attention in a room full of greater beauties

My heart remembered dancing with you when there were greater dancers in the room

My heart remembered your strong gentle hands on my shoulders, kneeding away my tension

My heart remembered the look in your eyes as you listened to something I was saying as though it was profound

My heart remembered the look in your eyes as you gave of yourself, a gift, a concern that you were being received as the best, that I understood that you giving your best to me

My heart remembered the anxious ride to the airport, your tension betraying the eagerness to be in another place, where I was not, with others, who were not me…

My heart remembered the hard look in your eyes when you thought I was not looking…as you gently held my hand and rubbed away my tension

My heart remembered the quick kiss as you again slipped out of my life…impersonal…

My heart remembered the pain of being a slight incident when weeks turned to one month of your silence

My heart remembered the hollowness of my own excuses as my hope flowed through my fingers…

Today I look at your photo…and there is no pain…no feeling…no sound…just a silence…

A deadness that so reminds me of an army of bones in a dry desert long before my time

But within the times of The Resurection and The Life

Today my heart remembered the Truth that The Truth had told me, about us

About me…

And even though your silence prevails, and mine has expanded into peace

I have remembered…and am off to find out from the One Who Builds and Watches over homes and cities…if the silence and the peace still means the same thing.

Shalom

vipslit@yahoo.ca

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Circling Your Stubborn Enemies with Focused Worship

About two years ago, I visited a church with my friend Roselyn and her mom. I quickly got involved in the worship and God began to minister to me through a vision. Let me tell you about the vision.

‘I was standing before a woman, beautiful, though her face was not too clear. Her hair was braided or in dreadlocks, and she seemed kind of elevated, in flowing red robs that constantly seemed to be blowing. I cant remember feeling any wind but it seemed windy just by looking at her. [i know…I am using the word ‘seemed’ a lot here but bear with me]. It seemed to me that she was standing on my pathway…in the way to my destiny. She had this hue of gold around her that seemed to emanate from within her. And that though she seemed fragile even, there was a silently strong power within her that controlled my ability to move forward. I began to declare the Word of God against her, frantically. A fear and pain knotted scratchily within my heart and belly. And I shouted more, she stood confidently and calm on my path. Smiling at me through eyes that seemed gentle but reminded me of a lizard, crocodile or a snake. Dark, loathing. As though she knew that there was nothing I could do to move her. Suddenly I felt in the physical, a pressure in the palm of my hand. A weight almost 2 kilos, and this weight began to lift my hands. My heart lifted beyond my vision of her, and began to worship God. And just like that, she disappeared. My path was clear again.’

I have on several occasions shared this and each time I do, a new revelation is placed, for the season am in. Even now, God is speaking a new thing…connecting this with something that happened in the past but I cannot share until I have His words to do so. Well, this week, my children Leroy and Shukri and I were having our devotions and God led us to the book of Joshua. Which is the theme of this week’s fasting prayer for our homes and nations. Joshua 2: 8-16, 4:1, 5:1 and 6 have been particularly significant. 40 years ago, Israel had opted to die in the desert rather than trust God with regard to conquering the land. They feared the occupants of the land and the land itself, believing themselves to be too small in their eyes. Rahab, and the kings in Canaan however give us a different story; they had heard about God’s exploits in the desert on behalf of His chosen race and it terrified them that this extremely large nation was headed their way. The Israelites, the warriors that had been liberated from Egypt wasted away in a wilderness for 40 years, and it was only after God had ridded His people of the evidence of doubt in Him [which am learning is extremely repugnant to Him] could He now begin again with a new generation – save for the remnant: Joshua and Caleb.

So God again causes His priests to stand in the gap and let Israel pass by. Here I need to say that those few of us, 12 perhaps who will stand in faith of The Living God, and believe Him for the healing and deliverance of our homes and nations would be enough to hold up the waves headed our way to destroy us and keep us from inheriting that which God has lovingly extended our way. Is there anyone who would risk they all to stand in the gap on behalf of your land? On behalf of your home? As I prayed through this passage, the crossing of the Jordan River, I believed that everything, every issue that I had been praying about that concerned others would cross over from slavery to freedom and have a fighting chance to this inheritance if those it concerned would themselves step out in faith.

Then there was the circumcision – the decision to allow ourselves to be indelibly marked by God as His own…before we head to chapter 6 and the saga of Jericho. I don’t know if like me, it looks like God has made you vulnerable in the eyes of your enemies who seemed so safe in their high towers? I am speaking to those of us who have prayed, trusted and yet find themselves again somewhat disadvantaged, having to go through re-consecration, and feeling like this would give the enemy unfair advantage over them? Do not worry, God blesses your choice to obey Him even when you do not understand it. His particular strategy. The kings were in hiding even though Israel did not know it. Do not be afraid – this trial/temptation/discomfort is of God. He is in control even though it seems nothing like it. Many have sent messages to me this week about not being able to pray, and asking me to pray with them. I have been non-committal, because of what God was saying to me about the situation. That we must all bear the circumcision, That we must all re-ally ourselves to Him. That it is He Who has held the stone flint knife against our innermost and most intimate and protected parts. And that He will keep us there for the four days it takes to heal us. Remember Zacharias the friend of Jesus who remained in the tomb four days till all hope was gone? You and I must remain within the will of God, even when it seems to hurt us because He will come, sometimes weeping, but healing and resurrection is within His Nature. He is coming. Just submit to the knife. His Hand is the Hand of the Surgeon not the murderer.

Then I asked Him…what was it about going around Jericho those 7 times…the first 6 silently? I needed a word for the place am in. A word to share with my children, Leroy and Shukri, and the ones who call me Mami about this place…this tall order. We are healed. We are restored to Him. But what He is saying to us belongs to us, is still a big deal. We have been firmly shut out. And the hostility and animosity within the place He has sworn is ours is fact. Yet He says to us, go to that place…and then just begin to circle it. Don’t take a battle stance yet, just blow the vuvuzela/trumpets/shofar and lift up the evidence of your testimony and go round it. One lap. Then go home and rest. Then tomorrow do the same. and the four days after tomorrow. Just obey me. I asked God, what was that about. Nothing changed those six days. The hostile, fearful, deadly enemies were still above us as we took a stroll around them; declaring Whose we are and worshiping Him for Who He is. He said to me. “There are things that still need to be broken in you that are broken only in such circumstances. Your dependence on your intellect. Your pride at what God has done just for you :). Your crowns, victories won. Your knowledge of the enemy, his powers and tactics and how useless yours is against his. Your tendency to rebel against Me when you are afraid, when you have evaluated a situation through your knowledge, experience and the experience of others. Your distrust for My Word and Instruction and your tendency to go to the devil for his opinion of what I have said to you.” God reminded me that I am not focused if there was no internal and external challenge to try it. I would know that the battle is won, when I learnt to focus on worshiping Him, on His revealed nature. By keeping my enemies aware that I had them circled in my worship of Him

I guess by the end of day 6 the worship did not even feel adequate to Israel. They could do it all in one day for the freedom it gave them. Nothing had changed but everything had. They had laid down every earthly shackle that kept them from true worship and had received from God the ability to soar above the challenges that had kept them in submission. And when they worshiped Him in Spirit and in Truth and lifted their voices in victory, they found that the walls, high towers, and the ‘powerful enemies’ had been an illusion before The Truth of the Might of The Almighty God.

This week my counsel to myself and all those seeking prayer is to circle their inheritance with worship. What has God promised you? What has He said is yours? Stop focusing on the hindrance, focus on Your God and worship Him without addressing the issue but calling Him by the Name that covers your need. e.g. Do you need healing – His Name is Jehovah Jireh. Also remember with thankfulness the works He has done in your life before. Sincerely. There are no guarantees [remember Joshua 5:13-14]…except that You will be closer to Him then than you feel now, because you would have pleased God. That alone is a major victory. And that whoever tries to restore in you that which God has destroyed will pay a hefty price for it. Joshua 6:26

s/he who has ears….

shalom.

vipslit@yahoo.ca


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Holes in the Hands of God

Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”  Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”  And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20

Tell me my brethren, the inner circle of Christ, because you would know; are there still holes in the Hands of Christ? As I waited on Him tonight I got a picture of His Hands as He stood before me where I knelt. They were held against His chest as one would wear a shield, and then He extended them slowly towards me. In both positions, the holes were visible. Big holes in His Hands, where the nails had pinned Him to The Cross. Tell me my brethren, what do those holes remind Him of? What do they make you think of?

Are you perhaps like me, who would see them again today as though for the first time, because you were so used to seeing pictures of them that the holes no longer capture your attention? They held mine today. I wondered why does He Who heals still keep the holes in His Hands? Surely the glory of Heaven could have sealed those holes. That place of abundant perfection. Why would He keep the holes in His Hands? And as I gazed upon them I understood something – they were Heaven’s Excellence!

You see my brethren, perhaps when He holds them to His Heart and then extends them out, The Life, The Light, The Great Amen, The Faithful, The Truth; perhaps the excellence of heaven pours through mandated by His Righteousness and through the mercy extended towards you and me. And if He finds us standing with our own hands extended up towards Him, our hearts and chests exposed before Him in a gesture of need, desperation, surrender and hunger, of worship and acknowledgement that He is the satisfaction of EVERY need we would ever have; perhaps brethren, the holes in His Hands are the gateway, the open floodgates through which the answer to every prayer, every need, every hunger pours steadily into the one who is not afraid of waiting of approaching His Throne of Grace. To the one who would believe?

Ensuring I always have everything I need for a godly and triumphant life, are the Holes in the Hands of The Darling of Heaven. I love the Holes in the Hands of my LORD and Savior Jesus Christ!

vipslit@yahoo.ca

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The Outcast to the Inner Circle

For many years, I wanted what you had. I wanted to be you. I wanted people to notice when I walked in, to stand up, take a bow, pull up a seat even if it meant evicting their friends, open doors, and clap when I spoke. I wanted them to speak well of me when I was around and when I was not. I wanted to smell the best, to dress the best, to look the best, to speak and think the best, to give the best to have the best. I wanted to be you. I wanted people to speak in hushed awe about how amazing my life was, and shout about how well I had made that possible. I wanted to be you.

For many years, I have worked to be you. I worked hard. I watched you so I could walk like you, talk like you, dress like you, be invited to your parties…yes there were days you invited me, but my terms were laid out. I was to open your door, stand when you walked in, clap, laugh be on cue with what you were saying and thinking. I was invited to speak well of you. I was invited so that you could have someone to clean up your shoes and sometimes your feet. I was invited to sing to you so you could hurl a javelin at me and be enraged when it missed. I was invited so your nose could have someone to sniff derisively at. I was invited so I could give my best to make you look even better. I ached, but was filled with gratitude because to be invited, means I had caught your eye; though the look in them when ours met always shamed me into the knowledge that I still was not you enough.

You probably do not know what it was like to be short and the hunger to be noticed by someone even if it meant charging you much more for your taxes. You don’t know what it’s like to be put aside by a man you had given your best performance – one performance after another. You only see that I cannot come to the well when you are there, and if I do it meant you were permitted to call me a harlot. You don’t know what it’s like to bleed constantly from your privates, from your bank account, to be bled dry by doctors, family, perhaps even your spouse and child and then cast aside, you don’t know how it is not to belong to the inner circle, to be disqualified from healing, from the nearest well even though we are blood. You have no idea what its like to be caught in your sin, when your collaborators have fled the scene. You have no idea about the lonely dwelling my lusts have barricaded me into. You have no idea how it feels to betray the only One Who loved you, how it feels to watch Him die and not be able to change your denial of Him. You do not know what it feels like when in the dimming light He looks at you not the way you look at me, but with love, and know that you cannot return that look in sincerity for your sin has found you out. You don’t know what its like to go back to the way things were after three years of triumph, to be caught naked futilely looking for fish back to that place where you always knew you would never return to – a failure, forsaken, because you forsook, because your faith broke you. To again want to be like you, to again want to be you….

You are the inner circle, you have surrounded the one with my healing, even though I followed from a distance…you would toss me aside if you even knew i was in the crowd. You don’t know what it felt like stealing healing from His garment and being found out. How good it felt when He looked at me like He had seen His best friend. You don’t know how it felt when He spotted me out hanging from a tree and chose me as His dinner partner, in my afore defiled home. You did not see how His eyes called me His friend. You did not feel the power of love that drew me to His feet, conscious of your spiteful and despising eyes that knew my sin, and despised the beauty of my hands and hair and the tears from my eyes that had seen too much. You do not know the feel of His skin against my despised hands and against the tresses from my head that had been soiled by a life He had witnessed with a Heart I was breaking. You did not see how His eyes looked into mine and called me His friend, you did not feel how that liberated my hands, my hair, my tears and my lips. How it felt when His eyes said to me that my body was beautiful enough for God to dwell in, beautiful enough to compare with a holy place like a temple…you did not see how His eyes saw me and called me His friend.

You did not feel the cool of the water against my feet as He washed me and the gentleness of His touch against my scorched and tired feet on the day He was dying. You do not know how the food He gave filled me, how the words He spoke to me, broke the chains of darkness that had anchored me close enough to see Him but not enough to be with Him. You do not know how He walked with me when no one could, when my heart was broken and my faith low, you don’t know how He spoke hope into my broken heart and how He did not shame my doubts. You did not see His eyes meet mine across the field of denial, and how they called me again His friend.

You judge me for worshipping Him in a way you have not prescribed, yet if you had your way, you would keep me from even loving Him because it keeps me from wanting to be like you. You do not love Him and yet you want to be in charge of how close I get to Him, of how often and how exactly I tell Him the truth – the He is The Love of my Life. You have blown up clouds in my face so that I cannot see the way His eyes call me, because to you, I am already unworthy anyway. So dear inner circle, what are you trying to ‘protect’ me from? You have already judged me unworthy. What more could I possibly loose by throwing myself totally at Him that would be of consequence to you? You don’t know how it feels to not mind not being you anymore, but to want to be like Him. I remain a faithful outcast to you, joyfully, because He has called me His friend, and made me one of His inner circle. Thank you for all you did, to make that possible – your ministry has been a blessing to me.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

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While men slept…

“… But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

   “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”Mathew 13

The vision: December 23, 2011, at approximately 4.30pm [Kenya time], I am sitting in God’s sanctuary in His wilderness for me a.k.a. my flat, and opening myself up to Him. Was thinking about the marriages that had taken up most of my thoughts during the year. Marveling at God’s Grace and understanding just a mite more of His pain at all He sees. I was thinking about the dead ones that had found life again in Him.

Suddenly it feels like my brain is being pulled upward and I find myself in dark space. And then something…a being, a serpentine being flashes endlessly past me, like a high speed electric train, grazing my belly as it passes by. It was a rusty red finely scaled being, scales flat and facing towards its ‘tail end’ with small horn-like projections interrupting what seemed like a perfectly smooth pattern of scaly skin. I get the impression like someone is applying slight pressure against my throat.  Just enough to cause a slight discomfort. And then it is gone, though still present, swirling fast through that dark space. I know it is a bad spirit and immediately link it to my praying thoughts just seconds before.

To say the vision disturbs me is an under-statement. But I get into prayer…and I sense God expounding the vision for me. At first I think I am being called to prayer against a spiritual attack on my country, Kenya. But I hear Him say “No, do not try to localize this thing. To put it within boundaries drawn by men.” And my head hurts a little for trying. I realize anew that times are…urgent. That many in marriage covenants are looking beyond and back to relationships that they have had or desire to have. They are entertaining thoughts of adultery, and other forms of  sins of lust. And God shows me that it is beyond marriages, that I cannot box the vision into just that, but the being has affected creation beyond lust and has corrupted the land. it is an endless cable that grows steadily as it influences…and influences faster than any one person has the capacity to think. And that the watchmen remain asleep…fighting over particular symptoms as the rot, the decay extends, faster and further than any man can comprehend.

I begin to repent. The sword must cut the messenger first, that the messenger may appreciate its trueness. I ask God to shine His Light within me again…and I continue to repent for what His Light shows me about me. I ask Him to break me further…that I may know His faithfulness and Him Might and ability to deal with this being. Totally.

Come Saturday morning and am preparing to have breakfast with an old friend. Someone I loved a long time ago, who belongs to someone I love today. And am on my face, asking God to take over, completely, the meeting; to triumph over anything false in our friendship, anything that represents the being He showed me. The endless cable that defiles the land, and causes the land to vomit God’s people. Causes all and any of the decay we have named as a problem in our lives till this point. And I hear Him say, ‘Vip, My word for you is in Leviticus 18.”and I hesitate in reaching for my Bible. “I know that passage LORD. Remember how that was my favorite passage during my adolescent years? How my friends and I giggled mischievously about the ‘sex chapter’?” And I hear Him say to me.” Vip, DO NOT PRESUME TO KNOW MY MIND OVER ANY ISSUE. ASK OF ME AND OBEY MY LEADING!”. So I reach out. As I begin to feel righteous and victorious and pat myself on the back for not having committed any of those sins since I was last forgiven, He again derails my train of prideful thought. “If its on your mind Vip, you have…but listen on.” So subdued I start again, repenting as I read. when I heard about someone else doing these things, was my interest in the story godly, or was it slanderous and God forbid, even titillating? Horror!!!

Then I get to ‘that’ section. My word for the day. ‘“Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, for the people I am driving out before you have defiled themselves in all these ways. Because the entire land has become defiled, I am punishing the people who live there. I will cause the land to vomit them out. You must obey all my decrees and regulations. You must not commit any of these detestable sins. This applies both to native-born Israelites and to the foreigners living among you.

 “All these detestable activities are practiced by the people of the land where I am taking you, and this is how the land has become defiled. So do not defile the land and give it a reason to vomit you out, as it will vomit out the people who live there now.  Whoever commits any of these detestable sins will be cut off from the community of Israel. So obey my instructions, and do not defile yourselves by committing any of these detestable practices that were committed by the people who lived in the land before you. I am the Lord your God.

….So do not defile the land and give it a reason to vomit you out, as it will vomit out the people who live there now.  Whoever commits….I get up from my knees with a simple prayer. Lord let me not qualify as ‘puke’ from the LAND. Yours and this one. With my heart thumping I head out for breakfast. And what a fellowship! When God wants you to hear Him…let me just say you will! I go home slowly that Christmas Eve. Worried distantly that I am yet to shop for food, and I decide to get off the matatu and into a new Supermarket on my way home. But I sense God say simply ” Go home…I will meet you there…” I get home, and then want to leave again. My hair is a mess and needs to be blow-dried before I tamed it into little plaits, but again I sense God bidding me to be still [just in case you are wondering, its still a mess this morning since I never made the blow-dry]. I get a message from a friend. She is on her way and I must not move. She walks in shortly after, tired with two sons following her and laden with…my shopping :). They are in and out in a flash! Am a bit floured by all this speed in my life lately so I go back to my flat and sit on my bed. And listen for God.

Am tired on Christmas morning and my neighbor comes in. I can tell when there is something she is fishing for. Then she starts “Mami,” and moves to sit besides me on my bed – which serves as our sofa. “I don’t know what this dream means but you help me. I dreamt that I found you and a man I know busy and getting ready to do bad things. I just remember asking ‘Mami, even you, do these things!!!’ and you looked at me and asked me to help you. I went out to get something to help you out but when I got back you had already finished with the man. It was too late.’ She was looking for something in my eyes and I held her gaze wondering…’What does this mean?’ I smiled. God was still speaking. She did not return my smile but looked at me with something like suspicion in her eyes and repeated ‘What do you think it means since my dreams are rarely false’. Ahem…

I began to speak, but she interrupted as though I was not keeping a script she had expected, prepared for me. And I hear my voice say to her “If you want to hear the real meaning of that dream then listen. But if you are trying to create a story about my moral character then you had better just get on with it, but know you will not be held guiltless’. “Yes Mami but my dreams are NEVER wrong!!” she insisted. And I ask her ” so in short, you are certain that God has told you that I am having sex with someone?’ I ask her directly. “No.” she answers quickly, hiding her eyes. I get a sense that she did not dream at all, but this was something she and the neighbors had assumed was happening because there was ‘no way someone can live like Mami does without a man, without sex. there must be something hidden and I know how to find it.’ I am not even irritated, just look at her and ask her steadily again “are you interested in the real meaning of the dream or are you more interested in making up a story that would destroy the ministry and leave you with the blood of the homes I am called to in your hands?” “I haven’t said this to anyone Mami.” She says now looking all over the place but at me. “If you haven’t you were on your way…I ask again, are you interested in the meaning of the dream?” She nods subdued.

I pray silently. Asking God for His Words, His Wisdom, His Love. And again I hear my voice speaking out. Giving her an overview of my concerns the past few days and how God has been speaking to me. ” I represent the church of Christ…and the man you saw in your dream too. It simply means the church, and some of those committed in ministry of God are in the danger of falling into physical and spiritual adultery. It also means that any delay in the watchmen crying out would be detrimental to her relationship with Christ. WE already have what we need to help her not to fall.” She nods. I can see she still wanted it to be a scandal about me, for me to break down with a confession that she would share with others about my improprieties. But am not angry…just sad for her. “If God gave you that dream then you must be the first to repent. You need to allow God to search your spirit and repent so that in going into His Presence to stand in the gap for the church you yourself would not be discounted.” For some reason this gets her looking at me again and then down. “Okay Mami. I will go and repent and pray.” She leaves shortly after. Its still Christmas day, but am feeling the pain of God already…I turn into Facebook.

I don’t believe in coincidences. God had allowed her to come to me with that story, true or false, perhaps so He and I can continue our true conversation. And as I open my page I hear Him say, ” this past week, and in the one to come, the land will be defiled more than at any one time during the year by sexual sin. Not just adultery, or even fornication but by all sorts of physical, emotional and spiritually sexual sin.” And I feel the sadness in Him. I open the page of a brother I have been praying over and I cry out again to God, “please don’t give up on him Father. Please don’t give him up to his passions. Deliver him my Father. I still believe you can.” I ride the pain a little and then someone begins to chat with me. An old friend. I have just posted the Leviticus 18 verse and the discussion on how Christmas was being spent comes to the fore. She too has the same concerns. And repeats the same conversation with me. And then my brother and friend Israel Burale goes online. [ahem…he is NOT the one I was crying over earlier just in case this thought occurred to you]. My Christmas blessings sent to him lead us into a full fledged online fellowship. He is writing a book whose cover is on this post, due to be out by February 2012 by the Grace of God. Its title ‘from the strip club to the pulpit‘. Oh he is a Pastor in training. I love talking to him because he does not know how to ‘hide a matter’ when released into it by God. So as I chat with my sister and brother in Christ, we agree to stand in the gap against the being that is defiling our land…in this season, ‘while men sleep’.

The watchman has cried out, death comes because we have defiled The Lord God’s temple, our own bodies, during this time when we should be focused on worshipping Him. We have engaged and justified the engagement of others in ever increasing hedonistic decadent ‘worship’ of a being that seeks only to draw our souls within its to build its power to destroy us. Arise and worship God in His Spirit and Truth and turn away from a dangerous ‘natural’ looking path. The being plagues the world, spured on by convinient darkeness. Stand up and be the salt and light you have been ordained to be. Just call on God. Not just in the new year night vigil…today. I am praying for you.  I am praying for me.

Blessings,

vipslit@yahoo.ca

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Rape: Getting your Life Back by Choosing to trade your Ashes for Roses

In July this year (2004), I was part of the rape statistics recorded at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital’s Gender Violence Recovery Centre. When two weeks later media reports of a break in by thugs into the Thiongo’s apartment, the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach was confirmed by the couple’s admission that Njeeri had been raped. Her words cut into me and I presume into every other survivor of this heinous crime that has pervaded our community for so long, but that has effectively been catalysed by a steely sentence of silence, stigma and recrimination imposed on its victims.

Defining Rape

Rape can be defined as any unlawful, unwelcome, canal knowledge of a person. This includes canal knowledge of those not mentally or psychologically capable of accenting to sex because they are young, physically incapacitated due to illness, unconscious, mentally unstable, or under the influence of a substance that hinders the normal processes needed in decision making e.g. alcohols and drugs. It is an act of violence that has nothing to do with you as a person, your appearance, your conduct, or even your career. The criminals in all cases of rape, are primarily the rapists themselves, and those who work against bringing these to justice and against the humanity of the victims and survivors.

I know My Rapist

Although many recently highlighted rape cases are those occurring in the process of other crimes especially robberies, research indicates that many more women are raped by someone they know. It may be a family member, a close friend, your spouse, lover or even ex-lover. When this is the case, many victims are put through a guilt trip by those involved with the aim of cowing her from taking deterrent measures against the culprit. It is common for her to be accused of ‘ruining the rapists, or her family’s name’ if she reports the incidence.

Read carefully. Just because you willingly shake someone’s hand does not give them the right to strangle you.. The act of rape by someone you care about robes them of the privilege of your protection because THEY have exposed you to the horror that may never leave you. Take back the right to be angry at your attacker, because NOTHING can excuse the attack against you. I was moved by Njeri’s speech because it proffered dignity to every woman who has survived a rape. Accepting what has happened to you and giving the responsibility for the act to its rightful owner, the rapist, is perhaps the most phenomenal tasks you may have to accomplish. Because rape attacks you at the centre of your humanity, you may experience a temporary shut down of your psychological and emotional systems. Many of us will not be able to account for the first few days after.

 Silence a Shield for the Rapist an Offensive Weapon Against the Victim

‘When I was yelling out the window, please call the police, call the ambulance, I have been raped somewhere somebody was saying Sshhh…’ Njeeri Thiong’o

It is important to tell someone what has happened and to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Depending on where you seek medical attention, you may be required to tell your story at least twice. What this does for you is to allow you to process what has happened to you, to break through the compulsion to hide yourself in shame. Trained medical personnel will be sensitive to you; will guide you through this without making you feel re-violated. It also allows you to feel, something you many not have been able to do because of the shut down I mentioned earlier. Modern psychology has demonstrated the effectiveness of group therapy as a means of attaining both emotional and psychological healing.

With the increase of sexually transmitted conditions, quick action might just save your life because you life is worth saving. Talking about the rape is not about the rapist; it is about you and your survival. It may be true that the rapist is dangerous and has the resources to harm you and your loved ones; but even if this is the case, you need to talk to someone and release the pain so that you can go on.

Retreat

Waking up will be hard some mornings, so will going through your normal day to day activities. Try leaving your mark on each day. It is however important to take some time away from all the noise, even for just one day and rest. Even if you are on prescribed sedatives, you may feel lethargic from most to all of the time. Allow yourself to cry, to express your emotions safely. Sleep as often as you need to. The world will not stop because you are not there to push it, but unless you take a rest, you will not be around to take care of your business anyway.

Your Friends

Carefully allow in friends of both sexes, who know and love you well. Some will do you good. Others, because of their own prejudiced mindsets may hurt or withdraw from you. Both camps are useful to you. Allow yourself to be touched by their concern for you, to be pampered. It will restore your faith in humanity – one of the things that rape robs its victims of.

Don’t get into any debates that involve your validating whether the rape actually happened, or whether you are really the victim (as opposed to the rapist.) They may encourage you to react in some way or other, especially as concerns taking legal action. Their advice may be timely and well placed but it is wise to avoid making any major decisions until you are convinced of your personal ability to follow through with the consequences.

Hearing Others

One of the hardest things I had to deal with is people’s cruel words; their suspicion and judgement of my actions, their fear and their hardness of heart. There will be people who will speak rashly, people you expect to understand. The rapist and his alliances will put out a campaign attacking your morality. It is common for them to bring up or fabricate your moral past, your real or alleged sexual exploits or to split hairs about motives. Their aim is to distract your public from the grim reality of his crime against you. Decide to look beyond the words, to ignore others and focus first on healing. Later on, you may explore your legal options as far as their activities are concerned. Remember that no one wishes more than you, that the rape did not happen.

Broken Relationships

You may want to keep things as they were before the rape. This is understandable but not possible. Whether the rapist is familiar or a stranger, you will loose some relationships. Even when these are significant, realise that all you need all your energy to get your life back on track. Life will provide a shoulder or two when you need it but for now, think about you. Accept that life allows relationships to run their course. Let go and enjoy the few who will carry you through this season. There will be a time to grieve the loss of old relationships; it’s just not now.

Take care of You

When someone rapes you, they have used you as a dumping ground; a toilet for all that is vile about them. Many survivors barely manage to go through their basic hygiene rituals let alone the cosmetic. Keep fit, eat healthily even when you don’t feel like it, and take your medication on time. The doctor will put you on Anti Retroviral medication for a month and you may be on antibiotics, antidepressants and sedatives. Take these faithfully.

Make special effort on your appearance. Visit your hairdresser and have them style your hair in an attractive, easy to manage style. Plan your wardrobe carefully. It will give you the boost you need when you come face to face with your reflection during the day. A word of caution though – be careful which scents you use during this time. Scents have a way of bonding with life’s seasons so that later on, a mere whiff may send you into the throes of depression. If you intend to use a perfume again, don’t use it during this period.

Remember that you are a woman, the climax of God’s creativity.

Pray

It is difficult to acknowledge God’s love during a crisis like rape. Part of the reason is that during this time, many of those who will blame and reject you may be strong adherents of your faith. You may blame God for allowing you to go through this time. You may however be one of the luckier ones who have people around to pray for and with you. Keep your spirit alive; even if all you can do is get on your knees and cry. A great part of your femininity is your spirit. Don’t trade it for the evil, the hardness, cynicism, the fear that violence proffered. Of great help is inspirational music, or short passages.

Your Sexuality

You will initially be averse to most male attention, and may feel no desire for sex. Don’t try to hurry things and don’t feel guilty when your desires begin to come back. Expect some difficulty when you begin to be active again, and be honest with your partner about these. Reassure him that it is not about him and emphasise your need to take things slowly. Do not allow your experience to rob you of your sexuality. Sex is beautiful; rape is violence. Re-learn the difference. You will get through this, one day at a time. I know it because I am.

For comments, counselling, referrals please contact the author on <vipslit@yahoo.ca>

First Published on Eve Magazine in December 2004

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The Healing Forgiveness

This week I will be a bit different, not that this column is ever the same. This week, I went through the Rwanda genocide, yes, I stepped back into the past and it was a trip I would not wish on anyone. Not even my worst enemy. I had gone for a serious meeting and found a friend of mine called Aggie squeezing onto a piece of tissue as she held a book a little far from her face. She kept blinking back tears and I just watched her for a minute wondering why, if the book was upsetting her so much, she didn’t simply put it down and get let the rest of us get on with our serious dry -eyed session. She told me that it was a new inspiring book that was a must read for all. And not being one to be out-done – I went out in search for a copy of the book ‘Left to Tell’. Here are my impressions of it`:

Immaculee Ilibagiza a Tutsi Rwandese begins her story from happier times when there was innocence and tribelessness. She talks about her family, her love for them and their love for her. She tells of the respect her father, a schoolteacher had in this community, how her parents went to great lengths to be helpful to all their neighbours. She shares about the bursting of that bubble, when one of her teacher punished her for not knowing her tribe. She tells about the continued tribal role calls all through primary and how the system worked to keep the Tutsi minority out of higher education institutions and the best jobs. She talks about her father’s sacrifices to make sure she gets the best education, and the support from her three brothers and mother who believed in her. Immaculee makes it, and becomes one of the few Tutsi women to ever make it to State University. Then on an Easter weekend while at home visiting with her family, the genocide hits her village. In a week everything changes. She survives death by hiding in a bathroom, which she shares for ninety-one days with seven other women.  In the midst of the bleakness that sees kind neighbours turn into murderous monsters, she finds God, in a way she never did.

Immaculee’s account is one of how she perceived the genocide, how it affected her and how she affected it. Her account is about God, how she met him in a different way in that bathroom, how He kept her sane, and alive. She finds space in cramped quarters and strength in spite of her wasted body by finding time and space for God. In doing this, she allows herself to feel everything. She shares about the pain of discovering that her closest friends, who until the genocide had been tribeless, turned on her, and developed a callousness that added to her loss. She talks about her own struggle with bitterness and hatred, even against the pastor that kept her safe. She says how she struggled against the loud nerve-wracking voice of the devil and got herself to the point where in listening to God, she was able to advise her fellow captures with confidence. She shares how God taught her to view those who killed her family with compassion and add true forgiveness. She shared how that forgiveness made grief more bearable, and healing definite. Her faith and forgiveness made things possible that would have in other circumstances been otherwise. This is a book for everyone who has been badly hurt by someone, anyone who says they cannot forgive. It is a book that will challenge, break, and comfort you.

If like me, you have never sat down to truly take in what happened in Rwanda, you will feel like you were there with Immaculee. She also includes sixteen pages of treasured family photographs that she retrieved from her college room. The best thing about this book is the happy ending or should I say they new beginnings, though laced with pain. Because this account is bound to traumatise you, even though the writers do their best to lay it down gently, I like the fact that she ends with hope. A new family, a new country, a new job, and an ever-vibrant relationship with a very real God. This book will gaud from you, the freedom that comes with forgiveness – both the giving and receiving of it. With all honesty I can say that no other book I have read this year, has had the profound effect that this one has had on me. And just so you all know, I sat through the night and read was in so much pain I only allowed the tears to flow, properly, when she said to the man who chopped up her mum in pieces ‘I forgive you.’ A statement I echo to anyone who has hurt me.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

First Published on The Sunday Standard, December 10, 2005