Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I've never before seen skin rotting but I've never been in Africa either.

Daniel sat in the corner somewhat lonely which was interesting because he was surrounded by his team who was listening to him. He was speaking about the burning passion God had laid on his life to help the homeless in Swazi. With tears running down his face and a spirit to love he told us about his vision; a vision to help the homeless people on the streets of Manzini. I’m not going to tell you any more about the vision because it’s not my story to tell but rather I’m going to tell you what it’s like to be in my shoes for a month.

The problem is with listening to God, for me, is it’s very hard to know whether it’s God talking, the enemy (Satan) talking, or just the thoughts and dreams in my head talking which sometimes I think outnumber the grains of sand on the Earth, sorry Abraham.

Step back for a second and think in your head the last time you think that God spoke to you. If you don’t believe in God don’t assume that the answer is never. Like a still small voice in the back on your head saying. “Hey, I love you.” If you do believe in God and he hasn’t spoke to you in a while why do you think that is?

Life in this country is different from what you think, save the cows walking in the middle of the road, (the government has tried to put up fence but people just steal it and use it at their individual homesteads) and the kids having only rice and beans to eat. Africa as you think it is: wars, chaos, turmoil, strife, exists here but not to the extent which you think.

I’m struggling to find out what God has with my future and when I think about my future I think about you. I think about all the people on this Earth that are going through the things they are going through and I get sad. So much hurt and loneliness, so much lack of love that it hurts my heart. There have been some sad things that have come to pass since I last talked to you; when I visited the government “hospital” (I use this term hospital loosely) I met this kid named Micosi, pronounced with a click in the beginning of his name, his legs were shattered by a car that hit him. His friend laid next to him in the bed with a broken leg and the device used to heal his leg was primitive. Wood taped to it with a weight at the end of the bed hanging down pulling his toes to keep his foot stretched out while he waited for it to heal. Some of the kids spend 2 months in the hospital and sometimes die because they don’t have a simple medicine/antibiotic to heal their infections or their bronchitis, pneumonia, cold or flu. A another child whose penis was rotting away because no one was changing his diaper but rather letting his sit in his own filth. A team member took the child, changed the child, held the child, prayed over the child, loved the child, and now, to be quit frank, the child is dead. I don’t know what the child was suffering from or even the child’s name but things like this are so hard to understand and bear.

It brings great joy to my heart to see my team and the way they love. To see my team picking up kids at the care points that are orphans and sometimes wearing no pants and getting peed on and the team mates loving them just the same; seven children hanging on Ryan as he plays the flying game, others playing countless hours of soccer with some of the youths. This is what life is here for us in Swaziland. It’s a life sold out for Jesus Christ because at the end of the day you are either serving yourself or serving Jesus and the difference between the both are life, life to the fullest or death.

The only other thing I have to say is this:

If you continue running from what God wants in your life you’ll end up and old, poor, sick individual. To live without Christ isn’t life at all. Jesus said “I have come to bring you life, life to the fullest” and with that life comes hardship, growth, maturity, and a unquenchable thirst in your spirit that desires to see God and the way he works and acts. If God made the world and all the things in it and then made us and then sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for us, just so we can be in unity with God, then you know that you’re not worthless. If you’re worth dying for then you’re precious; precious enough to be called a child of God.

Swaziland is like a sea without fish, and the people are fishing

His name was Sipho and he was across the road yelling "Hello, Hello" He was about 51 years old, in a wheelchair, and suffering from a bad case of polio that he had had since he was 16 years old. A loud, obnoxious fellow; his voice made up for how insignificant he felt in that wheelchair. He said, as he came curbside to me and my team, "I called you from across the street and you didn't answer me. You ignored me because I am disabled." I said "brother I'm the leader of this team and I have to make sure that they are all right before I can turn around and acknowledge someone yelling to me from across the street." He understood, I think, after I told him a couple times. His eyes were full of yellow. His skin was rough and longing for a soft bed, a shower, and maybe some amazing American lotion. I sat down on the curb and said what's your name brother. As he told me I asked him what we could do for him. He said with great passion: since I am disabled no one will care for me, no one cares for a disabled man. He beat his chest as to show us how resilient he was. "I am very hungry and no one cares for me." He had a friend by him that was pushing him and I asked what about him, "doesn't he care for you" and he replied in English in a thick African accent "No he doesn't care for me all he does is push me." I said "brother I care for you as I looked at him." I said "what can we do to help you, what do you want." He said "I am very hungry and I want food." I said "I will buy you some food but under one condition." I said "I'll go buy you food if you let my team come over you and pray for you." He said "yes, pray for Sihpo." I said "what can we pray for you for" and he said "EVERYTHING. I WANT EVERYTHING." So we prayed. The kind of prayers that God hears in a chorus of pleading and longing. A pleading and longing for God to allow us to show Shipo our love. Prayers that weren't selfish or empty but full of love and full of hope.

So we went. I got behind him and wheeled him to the town; the local Shoprite, and the whole way there everyone was looking at us. Most people laughing at him others not sure what was going on. The picture was fabulous. A small black man in a wheelchair with shriveled legs leading an army of white missionaries into town to buy some food for him. As we went he pushed people out of the way fighting for his place in the world. I said Sipho there's no rush we are in no hurry. Blayne, a team member, and I bought him a months worth of Pap, which is a local corn meal food, cooking oil for the pap, and some soup. It came to 160 Rand which is roughly 20 bucks. We chatted some outside the store with my team and exchanged contact info and he left and we left going our separate ways. My team then walked back to our home about 2 miles away. On the way home I was flooded with emotions and they came out in tears. I wept for this man. As I tell you I'm about to start weeping now. I didn't want the team to see me crying but it was inevitable. I was so sad. The question is why. Why was I crying and what brought it on. I'll give you the reasons that I know that God blessed this little humble life with great tears of emotion; 1st I was sad, sad that for 20 dollars I bought this hungry man a months supply of food. Sad that I spent 100 dollars before I came on pair of Chacos, which I use everyday but regardless, 2nd I was broken by the situation, questioning why he was not healed when we prayed, questioning why was their hurt in this world, and just feeling guilty for being so blessed. Friends I can not tell you any other way than this. I was broken because the God of the universe used me to do his work. I was broken because I was actually doing what Jesus tells us to do in the Bible. Maybe even for the first time. "When you take care of the sick, the hungry...this you do for me (Jesus)." This is what my life is all about. This is what I'm here to do and not only does it feel good to do but it's hardcore emotionally draining to love how Jesus loved. What a savior I serve.

Sipho had left and so had the team but God knew that I needed a little comfort and he sent it by the way of Sipho being at the very spot that we left him as we walked by him headed home. This time in stead of yelling hello to us and was yelling, in his native tongue, HALLELUJAH!! HALLELUJAH!! with a huge smile on his face. I turned from across the street with tears in my eyes and waved and turned back around and walked. You couldn't help feeling a deep sense of compassion. Daniel said "you see that Page, that's Christ." Daniel then prayed for me and Sipho. It's was a glorious picture of what this Earth should be like.

Brothers and sisters as I tell you this story I pray that it touches you the way that it touched me while it was happening. The only thing that I could say really after was "God is good", God is good because among all the crap and all the hurt and all the sicknesses and diseases and brokeness and pain and sorrow there is joy and hope. Sometimes hidden in areas where you didn't think they exsisted and sometimes only for a short minute. But what is a minute for you is a lifetime for someone else. I can do nothing but praise God for his work here and Swazi and praise him for the things that he is doing now and in the future. My faith has grown and is growing and the life that I lead has changed and is changing. It's interesting to me to see how God works. It reminds me of something my pastor once said. God isn't about prevention but restoration. This is so amazingly true. I believe that that day regardless of his situation Sipho was restored back to Christ through our love. What a God we serve. I pray that you get to see how God works today in your life and situation.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Google, the Jesus of the Internet. It always has the answer

With tears running down my face I cry out to the man who created your smile, the man who decided how to make your teeth; so precious and imperfect. Why was I crying? Does that thought ever come into your mind while you're crying. You feel like you have to justify why you have snot running to town on your face (like snot could ever make it that far before you play that hide the snot game). I'm here to tell you that if God comes over you and allows you to feel the ridiculous, compassionate, flooding grace that causes you to cry out to him to stop playing snot games and cry baby cry.

I'm in Gainsville Georgia right now at training camp preparing for the biggest trip of my life. I'm not going on my honeymoon, or on the way to buy my first house, or even to close a huge Yonks deal but rather to take a trip halfway (literally) around the world to a small city in Swaziland...called...well that's one of the reasons that this trip is as big as it is. We don't know where we're going. It's between two different cities, between loving on some 326 different orphans and getting there snot where my snot is, or going to a sqatter camp with is nothing more than a ghetto of extreme poverty. This isn't just your mommas 19 century poverty either; it's real, raw, sad, and full of snot.

I didn't use to be a crybaby until God put me on the mission field. Now tears flow like a glorious wellspring of water blessed and brought on by my living God.

A thicket, a place in time. Paul's travels, Gulliver's travels, Page's travels?

That Army commercial pops into my head. 'DA DA DA. DA DA DA."If anyone ever wrote a book about your life, would anyone want to read it?" Well, someone has already wrote a book about someone else's life and it's mad legit. It's called John.

As I take myself out of the picture and start realizing I'm not important. As I start showing myself out of the book of my life I start to realize my purpose. It's possible that you think you're where you should be and you're really not. It's possible that you're trying to write the book of your life and there's nothing to put in it. It's possible that maybe you're just working on the outside cover of your book and so far it's looking awesome but the first word in the first chapter on the first page is "struggling". And you are struggling. Start living your life for Jesus and not for yourself and the cover of your book will look like Moby Dick and the contents will be something of amazement. I promise you.