We started out just going door to door in the townships (which are the impoverished communities) educating them about HIV, Tuberculosis, and Diarrhea. I loved being able to do some health education. It was really sad how little these people knew about these diseases that were taking so much from them. Many children in the community were dying because they would get sick and get diarrhea, become severely dehydrated. We were able to inform them about mixing clean water, sugar, and salt together to nurse the child back to health. Most of the people we talked to were affected by at least one of those three diseases so educating them about these illnesses served as a great opportunity to share the hope of the gospel with them and pray for them. Almost all of them were very receptive to our wanting to pray for them. Many of them are hopeless and sorrowful and it was a true blessing to lay hands on them and pray for the Lords comfort. Something I Know he is faithful to provide for his children. One woman had even just lost her husband to a brain tumor a few months before. In the afternoons we would do kids clubs and it was a delight to love on these little children!
While i was there I kept thinking about two different verses. The first was Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good and not for harm, to giveyou a future and a hope."
This verse just kept resonating with me as I would look around and see the way these people live...they truly have nothing! Their lives are so difficult and full of pain and suffering. Yet the believers that I met there truly understood and trusted that the Lord has purpose and good in his will for their lives. And not good in the sense of "he will deliver me from my circumstances and bless me with the comforts of life.." but they trust that no matter what their circumstances or life situations that the Lord is sovereign over it and that he will use it for good. They don't seek just material things they seek after the Lord. They have such Great Hope. The Lord had begun to teach me about hoping only in him and through this past year and I thought after losing dad that I would go to these people and tell them amidst their suffering that the lord is faithful and in Him there is hope. But actually they taught me sooo much more about it than I ever dreamed. It was such an encouragement and challenge to my heart. In America there are so many other things that I try to put my hope in, whether it be in money or comfort or relationships or success, whatever it is its temporary but we try...But with them, they really truly have NO other hope except for the gospel and it was beautiful to see them rejoice and hope in the Lord despite so much that they had been through.
I also kept thinking about Psalm 130:7 which says.... "O Zion, put your hope in the Lord for with him is unfailing love and with him is full redemption." In these townships, because of the desperate situations of the people, they live in what we called, "Survivor Mode." Some of them have no concept of helping others or ethical conduct...they simply try to survive. In watching that behavior and the things that go on in the townships it can be a little discouraging to see the reality of sin in their lives. But this verse kept reminding me of God's love for these people. No matter what they do...his love is unconditional and he longs for them to be reconciled to him. And with that he offers FULL redemption. It was just a nice reminder that while its easy for me to judge and avoid or even hate these people who do such awful things....The lord longs to reconcile them and redeem them.
There are so many more things I could say It truly was a great experience and my heart was encouraged, filled, challenged, broken, and convicted all in a span of 10 days. I pray that the Lord continues to help me process all that I have seen and that he would continue to teach me and sanctify me according to his purpose for my life.