Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Luke Commission

Yesterday was again one of those days that I was out most of the day, reached home around sunset, flopped down on a couch, too tired to do anything else and just thanked the Lord for allowing me to be part of what is going on in Swaziland at present. The day started when I went to meet a group of volunteers who had come together with the desire to be trained as home-based caregivers. I cannot get over the fact that these women (in this specific case no men were present), some of whom themselves are HIV-positive, are willing to step forward and get involved in the caring of people who are even worse off than themselves. Forty women turned up! In spite of my warning that we do not have money to give to them and that anyone not happy with this may leave, all remained and if the same happens as in the past, even more people will turn up when we officially start with the training on 25 March.
When I was finished there, I travelled on to Nsalitje. There I met up with an American couple. The man is a medical doctor and his wife is a professional nurse and together they are involved in the Luke Commission. You can read more about them on their website. How we met up is a miracle in itself. Maya, one of the regular readers (and responders) of this blog, attended a missions conference in Seattle some time ago. There she heard of a certain woman who was a missionary in Swaziland. Hunting her down, Maya obtained her contact details, sent it through to me and I was able to make contact with them while she and her husband were still in the USA. On 15 January Harry and Echo van der Wal returned to Swaziland for four months and are now running mobile clinics all over the country. Being fairly technically minded, one of the most amazing things was to see how glasses are distributed. They arrived in Swaziland with around 40,000 pairs of used glasses which had been donated, tested in order to determine the prescription and then placed in a plastic bag with a computer-printed label by which it is catalogued. People in need of glasses are then tested with the use of a simple but very efficient eye scanner linked to a computer. Within less than two minutes a slip is printed with the prescription needed and the catalogue number of glasses which would be suitable for the patient. A few minutes later the patient leaves the room with eye sight restored! Take the trouble to read the story found here.
Echo and myself then had a chance to sit down and speak about the devastating effects of AIDS on this country. This is a fairly new field for them as they are now venturing into the field of VCT (voluntary counselling and testing) for the first time. After discussing the issue of counselling people before and after being tested for their HIV status, I was invited to be “counselled” by one of the Swazi volunteers helping them. She even insisted on testing me for AIDS, but I politely declined her kind offer 😉
As I listened to this young girl explaining to me all the issues that I had to keep in mind when being tested and discussing it last night with a friend of mine who is also very interested in the AIDS problem in Swaziland, I realised that there is a need for a Christian counselling course for people being tested for HIV. On the one hand the counselling given at government hospitals and clinics are more or less meaningless. On the other hand Christian counsellors also have to realise that their clients are not all committed Christians. To preach to people being tested will not always be very effective. This may be a challenge which we will have to take up if we want people to be properly counselled when they are tested. If anyone has any knowledge on this, please let me know.
When I eventually arrived home, I was tired after a long day and lots of travelling in high temperaturs, but so excited because of what I had experienced.


Thursday, March 13, 2008 - Posted by | Cross-cultural experiences, Culture, Giving, Health, HIV & AIDS, Home-based Caring, Hope, Indigenous church, Mission, Poverty, Short-term outreaches, Social issues, Support teams, Swaziland, Theology, Women

1 Comment »

  1. Hello,
    Some weeks ago colleges of mine, visited your campsite and were excited about your ministry.
    My name is Ellen de Vries and I work for the organisation Operation Mobilisation in Pretoria. I bring in international teams into Swaziland to do practical works with local projects. In july 2009 I will be in Mbekelweni near to Manzini. I would like to pay your project a visit. Is that possible?
    Looking forward hearing from you,

    Comment by ellen de vries | Tuesday, June 23, 2009 | Reply

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