Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Becoming the hands and feet of Christ (6)

After a week of training, we were ready to send our caregivers into the field. A committee was chosen (in Africa people just love committees, therefore they will have posts for a chairman, vice-chairman, secretary, vice-secretary, treasurer – sometimes even a vice-treasurer – as well as a few additional members). In our case the most important person on the committee is the coordinator. This is the person who has to have regular contact with the caregivers, encouraging them, advising them and assisting them so that the work can be done. Obviously I also have regular contact with her. We were very fortunate to have an extremely talented and dedicated woman who was chosen as coordinator.
On my annual trips to Russia I had often come back home and then said to my wife that I just wish that we could have someone in our church with the capabilities and dedication that I see in the church in Russia. I attributed the difference in the churches mostly to the fact that most of the church members in Russia are “first generation” Christians while in our church in Swaziland we have a large number of second and even third generation Christians who sometimes (and I know this is not as it should be) tend to be less enthusiastic about God’s work. What amazed me was when I suddenly saw the same dedication that I had experienced in Russia in our own church members. I had already made some remarks about miracles I had experienced. This was one of them. It was as if this person had found her “niche” within God’s plan and suddenly the dedication and enthusiasm that I had longed to see for so many years became visible. And the same applied to the group of 32 people that had been trained as caregivers.
From the start we realised that we would not be able to give these people a salary. For a time, after we started, we received monthly support from an international organisation which enabled us to give each caregiver an amount of 150 Emalangeni (about US$20!!!) per month. But then this source dried up. And I had to go to these people and tell them that we could not even give them the little that we had given them up to that time. I wanted to cry when they said to me: Don’t worry Umfundisi (Pastor), it’s all right. We will go on with the work, even if there is no money to help us!
When our children were small I did everything I could to get myself out of the job of changing diapers. “Number one” diapers I could face but “number two” diapers were an extreme challenge to my stomach! My wife hates it when I say this, but I do believe that mothers have received a special gift from God to change “number two” diapers! Jokes aside, the caregivers often have to face situations much worse than this. I have been with them to homes where the sores on a patient’s body is truly indescribable. In a Western culture a person with sores such as this would have been hospitalised a long time before. In Swaziland this option does not exist. Hospitals are filled to capacity with people who are chronically and terminally ill. Therefore hundreds of patients who should have been hospitalised are sent home where others have to take care of them. And this is where the caregivers come in – taking care of these people, washing them, cleaning their wounds, often fetching water from a nearby (and sometimes not so nearby) river, even cleaning the house if necessary.
The more I watch these people, the more I realise that I am privileged to be able to see something of Christ’s attitude being demonstrated daily in this country. These caregivers are truly becoming the hands and feet of Christ amongst people who have a desire to experience the love of Christ in a tangible way.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007 - Posted by | HIV & AIDS, Mission

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