One of my colleagues and personal heroes passed away from cancer over the weekend. I only spent a couple days getting to know her last spring, but I have that sadness deep in the pit of my stomach as though I lost someone very dear to me.
I met Lyn Lusi a year ago this month. She had been visiting the US from her home deep in Eastern Congo, where mass rapes, severe oppression of women and violent atrocities are part of the daily landscape. Lyn dedicated her life to bringing healing to the survivors of this terrible violence, and to changing the culture of oppression and inequality through education and empowerment.
One day during her visit last year, between discussions on public awareness campaigns and microfinance loans for rape survivors, I had the opportunity to sit with her for an hour, hearing her story and being completely inspired by her passion and conviction. Lyn, who was British, moved to the Congo when she was in her 20s to be a missionary and teacher. While there, she fell in love with and married a Congolese doctor, who would become her partner in humanitarian service to thousands of survivors of rape and violence for many years to come. Together Lyn and her husband would build hospitals, care for and empower survivors, challenge the local justice system and confront the Church's ill-conceived, unbiblical teachings about gender and equality.
The thing that struck me most about Lyn was not that her passion for her work was fiery and contagious. It was that it was so matter-of-fact, and such a natural part of the humble, quiet woman she was. She never once pounded her fist, yet the force of her message struck deep. And her faith in God was neither offensive nor defensive; she just breathed it in and out, it was such an essential element of her life. Lyn was a powerhouse for the oppressed, but more than that she was a woman whose love for others overflowed naturally and genuinely out of her love for God.
Now that is what being a Christian is all about.
Lyn laughed about meeting celebrities like Ben Affleck and others (whose names she couldn't remember) who would pass through the Congo on humanitarian visits, but I'm sure they are mourning her today too. The tribute to her memory on HEALAfrica.org shows how many people loved her and will miss her. But from what I know of Lyn, she wouldn't come back if given the chance. Her work in the Lord is done, and she's been told "Well done, my good and faithful servant."
Now it's up to the rest of us to continue where she left off.
Image from HEALAfrica.
Labels: important things