Human Reclamation (Fifth Lent)

They removed the stone from the tomb. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed. Then he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out, his body, wrapped from head to toe, and with a covering over his face. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go free”. (John 11: 41, 43 – 44)

What’s more unlikely than coming back to life after a deathlike experience? When it happens, it’s often fittingly in the most unexpected ways. In 2002, Reggie Whitten, a successful trial lawyer in Oklahoma City, lost his son in a fatal accident. His grief drove him to despair. He couldn’t eat or sleep. He said he had no reason to live. He called himself a walking dead man. Concerned friends took Reggie on a service trip to Africa, where he met Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, who runs a refuge for young women who had been abducted by rebel soldiers, along with their children by their captors. She provides them with practical job training and helps them heal from their trauma.

Deeply moved by the experience and inspired by Sister Rosemary, Reggie went home and started a charity called Pros for Africa with several former University of Oklahoma football players, partnering with the university’s law and medical schools to work on health and justice in Uganda and throughout Africa. “It gave me a lifeline,” Reggie said. He came alive with mission, and started even more charities to help kids in his hometown. His son’s memory lives, too – all the way to Africa – in the form of a building named after him at Sister Rosemary’s school.

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