"Come to the Mortuary and bring a Casket with you"

A report from John Bills on their time in Uganda after the fire that killed 18 young girls at a Boarding school. 

“Come to the mortuary and bring a casket with you.”

These were the only words that Dickson and Mabel heard from the mortuary to confirm the fate of their daughter Melissa.  Melissa, nine years old, along with 18 other young girls, died in a horrible fire at their boarding school.  The reason of the fire was due to some arsonist with unknown motives. 

Dickson and Mabel are YWAMers and Melissa was their only biological daughter.  They have an adopted daughter around the same age as Melissa.  I sat with Dickson and Mabel under a tree as they went through every detail of what happened to their beloved daughter.  As with any trauma, there are always the questions and doubts.  It was such an honor to be allowed into their suffering to bring comfort and prayer.  They had just buried their daughter a few days prior and now they were faced with her upcoming birthday. Mabel had put aside for weeks, some of Melissa’s favorite foods.  They don’t have a lot, so Mabel had to work for weeks to be able to keep that special food for this special event.  When I asked them what they were going to do on her birthday, they said “nothing”.  

I suggested that they make that day a day of celebrating her life.  So, upon my advice, they brought the family together with a few friends, cooked up Melissa’s favorite food including a birthday cake and each one shared a warm memory of their lives connected with Melissa.  There were tears but also laughter.  They entered that day in uncertainly and finished with a healing touch on their hearts.  Melissa was a prayer warrior even at the age of nine.  She was always praying for the other children at the boarding school. 

One Muslim father said that his daughter was deeply impacted by Melissa’s faith in Jesus and her ability to show so much compassion and depth of prayer.  Her death has truly produced life in many.  I personally came out of this time with them being emotionally and physically shaken by what I experienced.  To show empathy for others does come with a price.  But it is a price worth paying in order for Jesus to be glorified in the lives of those who are hurting.

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