Living Love’s Legacy

If your life were condensed into a three minute video synopsis, what would it look like?  If someone asked what sort of legacy you left behind, what would the footage include?  As you ponder this, make sure your thoughts don’t wander to, “What would people think about me”, but stay focused on, “What will I leave behind that made a difference?”

Anything left behind that leaves a legacy of blessing probably would have survived the crucible of fear or the siren song of apathy and been courage-born:  soul-deep, life-changing conviction driven by a compassion that deeply desires to bless others.

Courageous, convicted, and compassionate are just the words to describe Irene Gleeson, better known to her Ugandan family of thousands, as “Mama Irene”. Her second-half of life story requires examination and elicits celebration from those who call themselves Christ followers.

Irene’s story, whose earth-bound chapter ended just last week, is nothing short of miraculous, and you can learn about her at the Irene Gleason Foundation  (IGF) website.  It’s a three minute video tribute to her life, her faith, and her family.  Her family grew to include thousands of orphans, the innocent in need of food, shelter, education, and good news.  The video is only three minutes. I encourage you to watch it.

Best estimates are that twelve thousand people attended Irene’s memorial service in Kitgum, Uganda this week. 12,000.  A force to be reckoned with, one woman began a movement of mercy in a warzone. It’s tempting to want to elevate her to saint status, but that is to miss the best part, the essence, of her story.

Her story is not about her.  Listen to her again if you missed it.  She gained the sort of relationship we dream of having with God, by laying down her life and her comfort, and being near those who suffer.

A modern day faith hero, she grabbed hold of the living Lord God, stepped out in faith and decided come what may, anything less than evil-defying courage would do, and apathy was simply not acceptable.

This poem is dedicated to her, and to others like her, who dare to take Jesus at his word and live their theology –  forsaking comfort to bring comfort to the forsaken.  And,  with the caliber of irony that only accompanies a mysterious, good God, she calls herself the winner of that deal at the end of the day.



No page of history is without its heroes.

There are lean years, yes.

Seasons in the human calendar

When apathy and evil give the impression

That they reign unopposed.


But always,

Light shines out in darkness.

If not a million candles strong,

At least one

Insists on being lit

And burned down to a nub,

If that is what justice

And mercy



Mama Irene was one of these.

Once restored,

There was no way but her Redeemer’s way.

Her feet were indeed beautiful

As they found their way

And stood their ground

On the plains of Africa,

Delivering mercy,


Clean water,





And love

To those whom the darkness

Sought to hide,


And destroy,

In such evil fashion.


That one flickering flame,

Refusing to be extinguished,

Lived love’s legacy.

Theology in  truest form,

Not content to be tamed

Or contained,

God’s love

Leapt off the page

And into the lungs,

The lips,

The hands,

The feet,

Of  brother,




Any, who would hear.

The Spirit’s breath

The fuel that keeps the candles lit

And spreads the fire.


Jesus said,

To believe is to love.

To love is to obey.

To obey is blessing.


Indeed, Mama Irene

Was one of His Hero-blessings

Each generation needs.


Just one,

And an imperfect one at that,

She stood up to the dark,

She claimed truth,

Declared hope,

Delivered mercy,

Lived joy.


Lord God,

Move us past longing

To living your legacy

Of truth, hope, mercy, and joy

That the Living God,

The Beautiful Redeemer of the broken,

Requires and Provides.



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“Just tell me what to do and I will do it Lord.  As long as I live I’ll wholeheartedly obey.  Make me walk along the right paths for I know how delightful they really are.  Help me to prefer obedience to making money!  Turn me away from wanting any other plan than yours.  Revive my heart toward you.  Reassure me that your promises are for me, for I trust and revere you.”  Psalm 119:36-38

Kerry Peterson    July 27, 2013

This entry was posted in A Mother's Heart, At the Throne of Grace, Call to be Courageous, Celebrating Family, Celebration, To Honor and Remember, Trust, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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