Have you ever been so thirsty you just had to get a drink? Then you walk into the house and someone out of the kindness of their heart has prepared some ice cold lemonade to fill your need! How good it feels when that ice cold lemonade hits your dry mouth and throat! They say that if life gives you lemons make lemonade! That is exactly what a man named Benson did! Sometimes our spirits need that refreshing drink when we become dry. Sometimes we are blessed to meet someone who continuously makes lemonade for the soul!
There were many tears in Trish’s household. Benson was leaving after only a few days. Trish is a friend of mine from work and she has shared the story with me! Her kids were very upset. After only a few short days Benson had almost become a part of the family! Her ten year old son Karson wrote a story about Benson and himself that in his own simple way told of a bonding between them! Indeed Benson helped Karson make his marble mazes, sang and danced with him, and was truly intrigued by Karson’s writing ability! Benson told Trish that Karson has a fire in his soul and he takes that after her. He said that God wants her to nurture that fire and help him keep it burning for him! Benson had indeed made lemonade and was sharing it with all he came into contact with! As he shared the family began loving this man who had a very different background, yet who touched their hearts in a very special way.
Four years ago Trish went to Uganda and served in an orphanage for ten days. She helped deliver shoes, wash feet, tend to wounds, and teach. She touched, tasted, and saw things that leave her lacking for words. When she returned she believed the perfect scenario would be if she could bundle the experience, wrap it in many little packages, and give it to people to open and feel the experience too! She found that the benefit of serving was not only for the ones she served but also was very beneficial to her! From that time til now she has longed to return to Africa. Interestingly though, God had a different plan to bring part of it back to her.
The former headmaster of the orphanage gave her a call and asked if she knew someone who could host his friend coming from North Uganda November 11th through the 19th. Trish was quick to say that her family could host him. His name was Benson and they began chatting on Facebook. Some of her friends wondered about the arrangement. “You mean you are going to take someone into your house that you don’t even know?” All Trish could do was smile and say “yes.” Trish picked Benson up at the airport on November 11th and the bonding between her family and Benson began.
Trish brought Benson into the office one day. She had planned a little luncheon and had ordered food. I was part of the group that enjoyed lunch that day! Benson addressed the gathering dressed very casual and plain. He had kind of a British accent and kind of a quiet easy flowing voice. His first words were “my name is Benson.” He proceeded to tell us about his country Uganda. Since 1986 Benson’s country Uganda’s civil war has claimed hundreds of thousand of innocent lives. Over 25,000 children were abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army LRA, led by a self proclaimed prophet named Joseph Kony, and forced to kill their family and friends. Each night thousands of children in the northern part of Uganda left their homes in an effort to escape the abduction, torture, and murder by the LRA. He told us of the regimes terrible acts on their own people. One example that he gave was how the government would kidnap say three people from a family. In his example two brothers and a mother. Then they would force one of the brothers to kill the other two. After that unthinkable act had been committed they would go to the family and tell them that their mother and brother were dead. “Do you know who killed them? Your own brother killed them!” Of course there would be tremendous hate within the family for the living brother. The brother would be reunited with his family and you can imagine the bad feelings. That is where a group that Benson founded has helped. The group is called ILA or I Live Again. It was founded to help rehabilitate and counsel people who went through the shock of war and all of it’s effects.
Benson told a story about a game that they played in a therapy session. I don’t know if they named the game. The rules were that they could not drop the ball. The ball was passed from one family member to another from under one chin to another. Hands could not be used. Exchanging the ball from neck to neck required extreme closeness. Benson stated that you cannot play the game and have success unless you were literally hugging the other person. The beauty of the game is that is exactly the situation that the family needed! It was like that lemonade prepared to heal a dry mouth and throat. As the families played the game their hugs became more than just a part of the game. Their hugs became real and the love became apparent as families were reunited! They realized that whatever happened in the past wasn’t the fault of their family member.
As we sat there eating our lunches I felt kind of strange. Here I was enjoying a nice lunch and the benefits of living in our county while Benson told stories of people running for their lives. They were also running from torture. Benson described some unthinkable things that happened in his country. Not only were people killed but they also had body parts cut off. I cannot even begin to tell you the stories that he told that I had never heard on our evening news. It was disturbing and a wake up call that all is not right in the world. Yet here was Benson standing before us telling us all of these unthinkable things. I wondered to myself how after going through all of these horrible things could he be so calm, so caring, and so strong?
I also thought about how people define success and wealth. Success and wealth in our country is usually defined in what you do to buy material things and what you have accumulated. Here is Benson on a visit here to tell us about his countries sufferings and his organization. Benson doesn’t fit the typical success story to most in our country. Yet, in this man I saw a man wealthier than all of the other people I come in contact with. The Bible tells a story of a man wanting to buy the miracles that Peter performed through Jesus. Peter told him that it can’t be bought but it could be freely given.
Benson stated to Trish that he originally thought his mission when he came here was to make people realize the hurting in his country. He originally thought that he was supposed to raise money to help his organization. When he got here he realized that his mission was to minister. God made it clear to him that there is a lot of pain in the world. It doesn’t have to be the pain of someone hurting from a loss of a body part. God showed him that pain was pain. There are so many hurting from emotional pain here that he could minister to! When Trish brought up something that happened in the past for the third or fourth time Benson stopped her. “You said that you have forgiven, but you haven’t”, he stated. It was an eye opening statement for Trish as she truly came to grips of what real forgiveness was! Forgiveness is a big part of Benson’s ministry. Only by forgiving and moving forward can we truly be happy. Only from pulling out of the dead life of the past, much like God forgives us results in the spirits release! Now we can concentrate on the things to come as we move away from the past. Truly his organization has brought people from their dead world and the title “I Live Again” is so fitting!
Besides his special bonding with Karson, Benson also spent time watching Trish’s daughter play volleyball and basketball. He spoke at an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school. He visited three different families for dinner and he cooked his favorite Ugandan dishes for Trish and her family! At each stop Benson was a joy to be around. His way of looking at things was in such a contrast to what people usually saw that it was very refreshing. Anyone experiencing a few minutes with Benson had to step back and take a look at their own lives and what really is important! “Benson may be a trauma counselor to victims of war”, Trish stated, “but he also was a great counselor to me.” “We all have some war going on inside of us. His insights and perspectives into my heart were amazing.”
On the day Benson was leaving Trish’s family was all saying their goodbyes. Trish would be taking him to the airport. Karson held onto Benson like he couldn’t let go and he cried and cried. Trish had never seen such emotion from him. Along with the letter he gave Benson his favorite rock. Benson gave him gifts too. When Trish dropped him off, they both cried again. Yes, it was a sad day in Trish’s household and yet there was some happiness too in the time to come. Benson left an open invitation for them to visit him and Karson reminds Trish often. “You know I’m going to Africa to visit Benson”, he states. He’s not asking, He’s declaring! He prays every night for Benson and his family! So Benson is gone now. He is undoubtedly back to his mission for his people. His mission here is complete for now. He left a lot of memories and a lot of lemonade that those who experienced him can enjoy for a long time!
Click here to see Benson interacting with a young group!