Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Believing in spite of your circumstances

Someone asked me a question today: Why would someone want to keep on believing in Christ if everything around them seems to tell them it is hopeless? I couldn’t really give an answer. But let me explain what led to this question.
The group of students from Ottawa in Canada arrived on Saturday and since Monday they have been involved in the community surrounding one of our church buildings. It started with home visits and this grew into the repairing of a water hole within one of the communities where people fetch their drinking water from a spring.
Today we once again went into the homes to visit people – some of whom are going into their final stages of full-blown AIDS. One of the homesteads I visited today consists of about three different homes, but only one of them have people living in them at this stage. This is an old woman living there with her grandson. She had thirteen children of which ten have already died. She didn’t say so, but we know from experience that most if not all of them had died due to AIDS. So now she has three children left. One son lives in Johannesburg in South Africa and has no contact with her. She is not sure what happened to the second son. The third sun is a deaf-mute and mentally retarded. He lives in another area. His son of seven stays with her, as her son’s wife has also died. The grandson is also a deaf-mute. Furthermore she can’t walk. I’m not sure what is wrong with her feet (sometimes I just wish that I had more medical knowledge), so wherever she wants to go, she has to walk on her knees. Don’t think for one moment that this house looks like our houses! She sleeps on a grass mat on a floor made with cow dung! Outside the hut there are no grass – only sand and stones. The toilet (a hole in the ground) is about fifty metres from her hut. She has to walk on her knees to get there! I’ve heard the story of James who supposedly had knees like those of a camel because he was praying so much. I have never seen anyone with knees like a camel – until today!
And she keeps on believing in God and that God loves her!
Why would someone want to keep on believing in Christ if everything around them seems to tell them it is hopeless.
I really don’t know.


Thursday, August 9, 2007 - Posted by | Africa, HIV & AIDS, Mission


  1. If I may wax philosophical for a moment, I’d have to say that we here in the West simply do not experience the type of hardship others face so we cannot comprehend this kind of faith in the face of this kind of suffering. Also, I firmly believe that many people here in the West either have a faith that is superficial (although certainly not to them), they have a strange idea of suffering and how a believer is to truly go through it, or they may adhere to the word-faith theology that if G-d is pleased with you, He will bless you and if you haven’t enough faith, that is when trouble strikes. All sorts of strange theologies abound that prevent people from having faith in the midst of great poverty and trials.

    As I began reading your post, I remembered in Hebrews, where the author (some say Paul) lists all the Patriarchs and how by faith, they led their lives, often being promised things by G-d, but never seeing them come to pass in their lifetimes. We look back and in hindsight we see the covenants of the L-rd and His fulfillments, but they did not. They could have despaired completely, but their faith was in Him, not in their circumstances. How differently we live our lives today in the West.

    I’m sure if I saw this woman (and her knees :D) I’d be tempted to wonder as well, but surely it is people like these who build one’s faith rather than tear it down.

    Comment by Maya | Thursday, August 9, 2007 | Reply

  2. I agree espeacially with your last paragraph. There was a time some years ago when everybody was referring to the testing of one’s faith through all kinds of trials and tribulations and then I always challenged those people by asking them why God seems to be testing the poor and the needy in the terrible ways while we don’t have nearly as many “tests”.
    The real answer still evades me. I am just extremely thankful when someone within such circumstances can still say to me that the most important thing for them is to believe in the Lord.

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Thursday, August 9, 2007 | Reply

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