Our first stop brought us to the one room home of Mike, a forty year old male who was once a mini bus driver. HIV+, his wife ran away when he became ill. He is living alone, fighting TB, relying solely on the goodness of neighbours to provide little bits of food. Though his hearing is impaired, we attempted to share words of hope. A visitor from Canada recalled Paul speaking to the Corinthian church about the thorn in his side - Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.2 Corinthians 12:8-9 As God’s presence filled the room, the rest of us were encouraged by the words, even if Mike couldn't quite hear them.
He remained silent, but his eyes, prominent above shrunken cheeks, spoke volumes; pain and hunger reaching out for relief. When we presented our gifts of mealie meal and cooking oil those same eyes began to shine as tears filled them, threatening to pour. As we said our goodbyes, the image of his eyes remained with me, as I prayed that God would answer all the unspoken questions they were asking.
Rachel sat on the floor so that we, her guests, could be comfortable on an old sofa and chairs. Family pictures brighten the dark walls of the small house she shares with one of her three children, the older two living in Ndola. Rachel’s husband, like so many others, ran away when she became sick two years ago. At age fifty and HIV+, she is being supported by relatives. Selenium supplements have helped her gain some weight, allowing her to spend time moving about, not bedridden as she had been previously. We all rejoiced in the good report and prayed for continued strength and healing.
Our last visit was to Lisa, a widow with eight children, seven of whom live in the Congo where their father’s family is. Only her youngest child remains with her. With few seats in the tiny room, Lisa patted the end of her bed, asking me to sit beside her feet. I was almost afraid that her thin, brittle looking, illness ravaged body would snap. She was barely able to sit up in bed – but her face was radiant with the joy of the Lord.
At fifty, she looked more youthful than many younger women we met earlier. Words of healing and truth were declared in a house that was all at once a holy place. Psalm 118:17 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done and 2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day were proclaimed and declared over the life of this beautiful believer. We laughed, and sang the praises of Jesus, lifting our hands with Lisa as she rejoiced in Him.
As those who had come to simply serve, we ended our day filled beyond measure by the goodness of our God, and the wonder of His extravagant love.
names have been changed