This first full day in Swaziland was so amazing -- and so full of life-changing events -- that I felt I had to break it up into multiple posts to do it justice. Throughout the day, I just kept thanking God for allowing me to be here...
Mangwaneni was beyond my telling of it; I cannot adequately express the effect those children, or that place, had on me. It was, at once, beautiful and heart-breaking, wonderful and bittersweet. Those precious children know so much greater want, so much more need, and have witnessed enormous pain, already, in their short lives... and yet, they have JOY that I have not seen in children who live with abundance. They have HOPE that other people, with half their problems, know. They exhibit a selflessness that is rarely seen among the most pious of Christians, much less in children so young. There is a potential there for God to do so much, because there is so much to do!
I came away humbled and inspired -- I was humbled because I realized the universal irrelevance of my seemingly large problems. And I left inspired to live my life more selflessly devoted to Christ, and with more HOPE and expectation than ever before.
Around 2:30, we left the Care Point to go and make home visits to some of the families in the area. We loaded up the shuttle with bags of groceries, soap, and blankets to give away to those in need. This is something I have done before, with our church, here in Baton Rouge, but nothing could have prepared me for the journey which lay ahead...
I have seen abject poverty before, but I have never seen this.
A precious widow lives here, with her 7 children. Her husband died several months ago, and now she is doing all that she can to make a go of it. A couple of her older children walk, several miles each week, to come to church and Healing Place Church Swaziland is reaching out to help them get on their feet.
At first, I wondered if we should be taking pictures... I did not want to embarrass them or make them feel like they were an object of our pity. But Gugu Precious (love her!) explained that it was OK because they want us to see how they live and they want us to remember to pray for them. Indeed, every time I look at these pictures, I am reminded to pray for this sweet family. It was hard to witness this, but when you ask to see the world through God's eyes, then you cannot ignore the pain or pretend it doesn't exist.
Too many people spend their whole lives focused on their own problems, and because of that, their problems seem insurmountable and overwhelming. Sometimes, we need a kick in the gut, to wake up and see that we do have SO much to be thankful for... that our problems -- while still very real -- maybe aren't quite so daunting, after all.
Too often, people shut their eyes to the plight of others because they don't want to see the pain or witness the need.
It's uncomfortable for them.
But God didn't call us to be comfortable. And He certainly didn't call us to be self-centered and self-consumed. He called us to have compassion: To see the need and to be His hands and feet to the world.
I wonder how many people -- if they would just take their eyes off of themselves for a second -- would see the world as God does? Maybe, with a little God perspective, they would start being thankful for their blessings instead of constantly complaining about all that's "wrong" in their lives.
Sorry to get on my soapbox, but I'm preaching to myself, too.
Africa was a wake-up call, but one doesn't have to travel halfway around the planet to experience this. You simply have to look.
There is someone hurting, someone who's in need, someone who needs rescue in your very own zip code.
I will continue to remember and pray for this family... And I will choose to keep my eyes OPEN.