Today Tsige and I went out for her first day of outreach and truly I have NO WORDS. Africa has a way of doing that to you, over and over, when you choose to continue to stand in the shoes of those who suffer and attempt to feel a tiny piece of their pain. Trust me, it would be much easier to become used to it or numb to it, but I don’t ever want to feel less for the danger of becoming less compassionate and less like the heart of God, who feels our pain.
I can’t even begin to explain in detail what I saw, or how my heart ached today over the level of suffering the ladies we met live with, because photos and a write up will do nothing to capture the emotion, humanity, and dignity of their lives or of the pain and suffering they carry daily: It doesn’t even scratch the surface.
Today we sat in a 6ft. x 6ft. room, the living area of 6 people, who have no running water, no power, no food, not enough beds, little clothes, little protection from the rain, no toilet, and so much loss. Before I even knew their stories, I was already struggling with how to process their physical living conditions alone. Though I have seen it many times, I am still surprised when I sit with physical pain in my chest just looking at the conditions of the place. I always ask God to “break my heart for what breaks His” and as I sat there, I could feel His heart over this situation, and it was breaking.
One by one we began to hear their stories. 3 of the ladies have HIV, and all 3 of them are unable to take their medicine, as you need food to take it, and for the last 2 months they haven’t had any. I learned about the mother, who at one point was so sick, her daughter gave her a small bag of milk so she could try and help her in some way, and when she gave it to her, it was all she needed to sit up again. She wasn’t sick; she was so malnourished, so void of a single calorie, that she couldn’t even sit up. They showed me the place where their son sleeps, a tiny tin room where the drop in toilet used to be, now converted to his sleeping area by laying a mattress over the hole. I literally felt sick to my stomach.
As I sat there, I felt led to pray over them. As Tsige and I prayed over the one girl, the Lord put it on my heart that there was someone she needed to forgive. Tsige translated this to her and then the girl began to talk. Though I didn’t know what she was saying, I could tell its wasn’t good as Tsige began to cry, the mother laid her head in her hands, and I held back tears before I even knew why. Her name is Belinesh and she has no living relatives, no parents, no siblings, NO ONE. She knew whom she needed to forgive; it was the guy with HIV who raped her and left her with the disease as well. She ended up losing her only child because she was too ill to care for her so the government took her away: She had lost everything. She also has had her period for 2 years and doesn’t know why. I can’t even comprehend the difference of our lives…I have NO WORDS.
After hearing this, we all began to cry and pray; for the next 40 minutes. We prayed for God to heal them, to take away their pain, to restore and redeem their lives and for this day to be the beginning of a new thing in their life (2 Cor. 6:2). We thanked God for bringing our paths together. As one of the ladies began to pray, she fell to her knees on the floor and began to WEEP, OUT LOUD.
Puddles of tears pooled on the ground beneath her. Though she doesn’t have HIV, her mother and sister do, and she is their caregiver. She is the one who carries them outside by the front “door” and holds them over a small bucket while they use “the toilet”. She is the one who takes the bucket, filled with excrement, often diarrhea, and finds a place to dump it and clean it out. She is the one who watches her family waste away from a disease they didn’t ask for. She is the one who doesn’t have enough to feed them, and can do nothing to change their situation except plead with God to bring someone who can, and she is a daughter of the King who reads things in his word like: “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope” and has tried to keep the faith believing He will do something, ANYTHING, to change this situation.
As we all sat there praying and weeping I kept thinking of the bible verse: “Jesus wept.” I could picture Him there with us, weeping, and I reminded myself that after he wept, he changed the situation. I knew today, we were God’s answers to their prayers and that through us, and because of your support, He was going to change the situation.
We went and got them food, charcoal, and oil and brought it back. There were tears of joy and hands raised high, praising God. They were hugging and kissing each other and us.
God had not forgotten them. We left again and went to buy sheets, blankets and a mattress since some of them don’t have something to sleep on at night. There were more tears, more praising God, more rejoicing, more hugs.
After this, we went to 3 more houses, 3 more broken situations. One stop was an extended family of 11, living in a tiny shack with one bed, and we were told they eat one meal a day.
We took pictures so we can find sponsors for the children. We bought food. We told them we would help them and we will.
One stop was to bring Belinesh back to her home. Tsige had to help her walk just to get inside.
She lives in a small mud hut with no running water, no food, no power, no toilet, and no one. Again, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It seemed as though thick clouds of suffering filled the air, and as I sat there I tried to imagine what her life must be like, living here alone, in so much pain, while trying to cook for herself, take care of herself, and survive. She has no water, which means no shower, and I can’t even imagine what a struggle it must be for her on a daily basis.
We also bought her a new mattress, some sheets, a blanket, food, and water. We brought it all in and Tsige made her bed and helped her climb in. Two small pictures of Jesus hung over her bed on the wall. We visited with her and for the first time that day, she smiled.
God had not forgotten her, he had heard her prayers and seen her tears, and He answered her prayers on this day. I found myself amazed that God would choose to use us to be His flesh on this earth, to carry the love and faithfulness of God to his children, our family, all because He loves us. What an amazing God we serve.
We know that God has moved Tsige’s heart to start this ministry for ladies just like the ones we visited today, who have been crying out to their Heavenly Father, begging and pleading with Him to help them, and because He is faithful he brought us here to be His hands and feet and to answer their prayers. But know this, any of you who have given to support our ministry, were a part of their answered prayer today.
We need to raise a minimum of $1,000 a month to do this ministry. Today cost $400 and every single penny was necessary. Tsige is planning on continuing to meet with the ladies we met with today, and will continue to help other ladies in similar situations as funds allow.
Would you be willing to help Tsige start her ministry? There are no current funds for this as it is a new project. God is clearly in this and I can’t wait to see what He is going to do. Will you join us?
Click HERE to support her ministry today.
****After reading this if you are not crying and running around your house looking for things to sell like everything you own, including the house that holds all of it, then clearly I haven’t explained the place your mind goes to when you see this kind of suffering. I sat there thinking “how much money do we all spend on things like our hair, our nails, our vacations, our already ridiculously large and nice homes, our toys, ALL OUR STUFF, while at the same time our brothers and sisters in Christ are living this way. Two months ago I was in America buying more stuff for another Christmas while these ladies were crying out to God asking Him when he will send someone, ANYONE, to help them. Know this, when you are in this situation, it is a humbling and convicting reminder that we need to live much more simply so others can simply live. ****