Wake Up: Part 3 By: Chinua Hawk

So the morning of day two I hurried to get myself together so I could make it downstairs for 5:45 am  prayer time before breakfast. In my mind I wanted to start the day off right fully engaged and present.

This day was all about the kids, we brought bubbles, soccer balls and some much needed food for their pantry.  It seemed like we blew bubbles for hours but the kids just loved it! I admit that because my physical condition was less than stellar it didn’t take much for me to get pretty tired so I would retreat to the van and rest for a bit.  It bothered me a great deal that I couldn’t run with the kids the way I wanted to. Anyway back to the kids. I’ll whine about my own story later.

So while I’m in the van I’m still thinking about the words “just be here.”  I had stopped looking for that huge earth shattering, soul shaking, miracle to appear.  I grabbed one of the soccer balls and started tossing it back and forth with one of the kids and boy did this kid enjoy that. The next thing I knew we had a huge circle with a bunch of other kids and some of my teammates just tossing the ball back and forth. It was so much fun! The funny thing is that in this circle is where I saw God. Of course I know He’d been there all the time but I couldn’t see the forest fore the trees.

I was struck in that circle by how the children would smile when I or one of my teammates would toss the ball to them. They were so happy to be chosen. I was also struck by how attentive they were to each other and made sure that every kid had a turn to toss the ball.  I was reminded that day that God is in EVERYTHING, the small things and the big things.  I saw God in their laughter when they were trying to teach me their names and I kept getting it wrong, something I’d been doing ironically all of my life with others.

The head teacher told one of my teammates that we were a blessing to the children simply because we see them. When I’d heard that I remember thinking that that is what we all want. We all crave to be seen. We all want it known that we are here and we deserve to be acknowledged.  Think about that and then, think about how God sees you!  Think about it the next time you speak to someone without making eye contact if you even speak at all. EVERYONE deserves to be seen!

I never imagined I would care or become as attached to the kids and my team as I did. I find myself looking at the clock imaging what time it is there and what they are doing now. I wonder if there is more food in their pantry or if someone is hurting them. I find myself praying for them at random times.

I came away from this experience with two great lessons.

The first is that, things will not heal brokenness. We all have our temporary fixes for the broken areas in our lives but until we truly surrender these things over to the Father we will never be healed and able to move on past these things. I can’t say that I’m completely sure how to do this but I know I have to keep trying and praying and leaning on God to show me how.

The second lesson has a story behind it so let me tell that first.

The end of my trip was mind blowing! I had the honor of participating in an event called “Litsemba” which means hope. There were I believe 3500 kids from various places at this event including the kids from the school my team and I served. It was kind of like an all day festival for them with food and all kinds of music.

That day I saw what looked like hundreds of kids come to Christ and I was just standing on stage in tears. Here comes the second lesson.

As I’m standing there in tears God revealed to me that It didn’t matter what I thought I was coming to Africa to do. Soccer balls, soap, food, water, medicine, none of that was more important than what I was witnessing. I’m wishing I had millions of dollars to do more for these kids and that was all wrong. Their salvation was last on my list and it should’ve been first.  I cried tears of joy for the one’s that came to Christ and tears of sadness for the one’s that didn’t.

I want you all to know that I’m not telling you these stories because I want to look like a good person, I’m sharing because I want to inspire you to get involved. It doesn’t have to be Africa, there are needs you can fill in your own backyard.  Helping someone else may make your own situation appear less daunting.

I don’t like being hot. I don’t like getting dirty. I detest yard work with a passion and yet here I am wanting to go to Africa again.

God wants to do something AMAZING with your life. Don’t let fear keep you from where God is trying to take you! I’m a witness that God is not going to just drop you off in the middle of chaos and leave you by yourself.

My plan is to definitely go back again. I don’t know for sure that that is Gods plan but I’m hoping it is.

If my stories have touched you and you want to travel to Africa, I suggest going with Heart for Africa.  Check out their site www.heartforafrica.org

They are doing some incredible work so please support them in anyway you can.

Thank you so much for reading my blog and for helping me get to Africa.

Love and Peace,

Chinua Hawk

Share on Facebook

Tags: ,

Speak Up By: Danea Johnson

It’s never a good sign when you are in rural Africa with a van full of teenagers (half who speak no English) and discover your driver is lost. It gets even more real when he pulls over for directions from two men who are digging a grave. Welcome to Swaziland.

We made it to the church community safe and after a few greetings from our new friends, we got to work.  We unloaded seedlings for the garden and organized the structure we planned to build. After everyone was focused and on task the translator came to tell me the pastor was ready to go pray for the sick people. It was urgent that we go now. For some there may not be much time.

The homestead we went to first was like the ones I had seen last year. Simple mud hut and a few other “houses.”  The family came out to greet us with benches for us to sit. I looked up and saw her. She was stumbling behind a woman I would soon learn was her mother. From a distance she looked like she was covered in powdered sugar sparkling in the sunlight.  The two of them sat down in the dirt in front of us and I saw what it was. Her entire body was covered from head to toe in lesions. They had broken open and infection was pouring out all over. The breath escaped from my body. My lips quivered and the tears burned my eyes. “Don’t break down. Not now.” I said to myself.  All I could think about was Grace. As I watched the mother tighten the rags they used for blankets around her, I could feel my heart ache at the thought of what she was facing. The sweet little 6 year old shivered from fever and fear. Her eyes rolled back and she looked away.

The pastor wasted no time and we all rose to our feet while he prayed. The other church members joined in. I didn’t understand the words they spoke (Siswati) but I could understand the urgency they pleaded with. Prayers for mercy, and healing for this child.  I have never felt anything so powerful. I wanted to collapse and hold them both and cry with them. From one mother to another. I could feel her pain and desperation. They finished praying and I said a simple prayer in English for peace, understanding and healing.

We made it back to the church and worked a little more but all I could think about was the sick little girl and my healthy little girl 9,000 miles away.  I went right to Janine as soon as the team got back to the hotel. I told her the story and about the lesions. “Does she have leprosy?” I asked. “No, sounds like sarcoma from AIDS, it’s when your immune system is gone. All too common here.” She assured me she would have someone go check on her.

An hour or so later she found me and told me she was going to follow our driver the next day and try to find the girl to get her some help.  I went back to my room and panicked a little. What if I overreacted? She would go all the way there for nothing. I looked down and found a card that was sent from a friend back home. Inside was a scripture: Proverbs 31: 8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

We got to the homestead and Janine asked to go directly to the girl instead of them dragging her out to us. We went inside the dark hut to find her laying on the ground next to an open fire. I was choking from the smoke while Janine did the talking. She discovered through broken translation that the mother was HIV positive and on ARVs. The father had already died of AIDS. The clinic they had visited told them the girl had chicken pox. Janine stepped out and got on her phone. In mere moments we were in the car with the mother and daughter with the van driver following behind us. (he would drive me back with them) I asked one of the teenagers (Chase) to come along so I wasn’t alone on the way back.)

The clinic was amazing and the doctor was quick to see her. Janine went with them while we waited. A short time later Janine comes out and tells us that the doctor is certain she has AIDS but the mother has never had her tested (I assume she knew the results) The doctor was going to do a test before giving her medicine and Janine asked us to pray.

“”Pray? For what? “ I thought. I closed my eyes and half heartedly asked for strength for the mother and for what she was facing.  Ten minutes or so later Janine comes out again, this time eyes filled with tears. “It’s a miracle. The test is negative. The doctor is in disbelief. She has been healed.”

I tried to rationalize what had just happened. “Healed? Really?”  I am so angry with myself for doubting what I had just experienced. Why is it so hard to believe that the God who created the universe could heal a little girl? Of course he healed her. Shame on me for my faithless prayer that I had offered. When the Swazis prayed the day before, they did it with fearless faith. They pleaded with their whole hearts to God for mercy and healing and he heard them. I was there and wanted to collapse in the presence of the Holy Spirit but I didn’t even recognize it at the time. They knew  exactly who they were praying to.

We managed to find a grocery store to buy the family some sugar beans and bread to help her regain her strength and then found our way back to the homestead. The mother got out of the van, handed off her child and turned to me. She hugged me and held onto me like we were the best of friends. One mother’s heart to another mother’s heart.

I am so unworthy of the blessing I was given that day. I will be giving thanks for the rest of my life for the love he must have for me, to let me be a tiny part of that. If we only Really knew how great our God is, how much faith could we pray with? I will seek that knowledge the rest of my life.

I don’t know the little girl’s name. I call her Nomsa. I was told it means “Grace” in Siswati.

Share on Facebook