Wednesday, June 25, 2008

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.

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