One day in heaven

One day in heaven

What better way to bless 180 disadvantaged children from the slums than a picnic? Jill Vine tells us what a blessing that day was

My story begins a year ago (2013), when I visited Bukasa Island with evangelist Sam Tsawe, a regular MAF flier. After staying in a slum there, a group of laughing children accompanied us to the airfield. These children from the local fishing communities live in cramped ghettos.

Even though they are surrounded by beautiful fields, lakes and glades of jungle, there is a heaviness that hangs over these slums.

As we talked and walked to the plane, a somewhat absurd idea popped into my head. ‘Wouldn’t it be lovely to host a picnic for these children out in the beauty of the fields?’ Sam loved the idea, but neither of us know how to pull it off.

Eight months later, I overheard Sam talking about re-visiting Bukasa with a MAF team from Denmark. The picnic idea came straight back to me, and I asked if there might be space for me to join the team. Amazingly, the Danish team agreed, and were willing to help fund the picnic!

The night before our flight, our plans to take people out of the slums seemed to be in jeopardy. The local pastors seemed adamant that the picnic should be by the church hut in the ghetto.

I sent an urgent SOS to my prayer chain, and began to read Psalm 113:7, ‘He raised the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.’ I felt reassured that God was behind our event and that everything would work out.

After landing, we travelled by tractor-drawn tailor into the slum areas. Men and women stared at us without smiling when we greeted them. My stomach twisted as we drove through the heavy atmosphere, and I was struggling to trust God that our plans would work out.

But as we pulled into the church grounds, hundreds of children ran towards us screaming their welcome – they were so happy to see us! Led by Sam, the pastors and children began singing and praying with us and the Danish team gave out gifts.

Together with the pastor, we searched for a perfect spot for our picnic. We finally spied a perfect sanctuary, which was surrounded by palms and lots of shade in the soft grass.

But I kept walking up the path to the crest of the hill and suddenly the landscape opened up. I gasped at the stunning view from the highest cliff point on the island, overlooking blue water with eagles flying overhead. Now I understood God’s plans – they were better than I had even imagined.

100 children and their teachers shared a feast of sandwiches, fruit, cake and soda with us that day. The Danish team and I served the food and we prayed together. After lunch and games, I took the children on the prized walk up to the hilltop.

I will never forget the sight of them running, then standing still, looking out at a view they had never seen before. It was as if they were seeing the beauty of the island for the first time. Joy was everywhere.

‘They will never be able to forget this,’ Sam commented. Every face was adorned with a smile. My heart felt so full to be able to witness such a beautiful day – one that surely resembled heaven.