Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Becoming the hands and feet of Christ (2)

After returning from the Netherlands where I had experienced that God was calling our church to do something great, I went to my congregation and shared with them what I believed God wanted. The longer I struggled with this, the more I became convinced that God was calling our church into a ministry to work with people with HIV/AIDS. It is truly one of the most hopeless situations that I have experienced, when visiting a hospital in Swaziland, to be surrounded by people in beds, resembling something that we see in the documentaries about the holocaust; people who are just skin and bones (literally); babies only a year or two old dying through no choice of their own; young people who should have been in the prime of their lives but clearly on the point of dying. For those interested in some pictures I have taken in Swaziland, you can have a look at it here.
I preached about what I believe is God’s vision for the church. I preached about God’s caring attitude. I preached about the way that Jesus reached out and touched the man with leprosy. After three or four months I arranged a meeting with the church members and asked them if they would be willing to become the hands and feet of Christ in their community. And the truly amazing thing happened that they said “Yes”. Now, you may ask why this is amazing. The people in our church are really extremely poor. And because of their poverty they have learnt through the years that they cannot really do much for anyone else. They were the ones who had to be helped. They were the ones who had to receive from others. In many ways they acted like Garfield: “It’s all about me, myself and I.” I’m not saying this in a negative way, but one of the worst effects of poverty is that it takes away one’s feeling of dignity and eventually you start believing that you mean nothing. And I truly believe that a miracle took place in these people’s lives when they agreed that they would become instruments of God’s love within their community. They were willing to give themselves so that others could be helped. What we would do and how we would do it, was still not clear to us, but we did know that we had to do something. So the next phase was praying to find God’s will for us in Swaziland. I was thinking about a feeding project, but at that point I was not convinced that this would be the right thing to do. So we decided to wait a bit so as to be sure that we were going to do the right thing.
Perhaps just something about my last remark: I am naturally someone who don’t like to wait. When we buy anything new, especially technical stuff like a TV or DVD player, I can’t wait to open the box and get things connected to find out how it works. But I have learnt through the years that it makes sense to wait and listen before rushing in to do something for God. And the reason is that we very often do the things that we want to do, saying that it was God leading us in that direction, while in fact it had little to do with God’s will. So, (im)patiently, we waited before making any decision on what we would do.

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Sunday, July 1, 2007 - Posted by | HIV & AIDS, Mission, Swaziland

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