On every trip to Africa, I make a point of joining the ‘humble heroes of home based care’, volunteers who are mostly subsistence livers, as they visit orphans, widows, the sick and the dying.
The Psalmist says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He recues those whose spirit is crushed” (Psalm 34:18)
I always sense God’s presence in a special way in these close encounters.
We want those we visit to know that:
God sees them,
God knows them and
God loves them!
I distinctly remember one such profound visit. I walked down the narrow paths through Mgona, a slum outside Lilongwe, Malawi. Litter, human and animal waste on the path, children playing in the dirt. Directed by the home based care volunteer, I entered the mud walled enclosure and my eyes were drawn to 34 year old Chrissy. I knelt down beside one of God’s treasures. She was curled up on a dirty mat on the ground outside her grandmother’s home with a blanket covering what was left of her. Flies were buzzing around her encrusted eyes. Her skin was pealing. As I cradled her head with my one hand and held her arm with the other I could feel little but skin and bones. Chrissy was abandoned by her husband, leaving her with 2 children. Her mother and father are dead. I prayed with her a prayer of hope and healing translated by Catherine, the home based care volunteer. As I stood up, Chrissy, who was unable to lift her head, began to sing (in Chichewa) with the little energy she had. “I’ve got a beautiful home in heaven where there is no pain, there is no sickness, there is no worries.” Jesus was surely there.
In my field notes I wrote, “I was thinking about Chrissy again tonight. Dying, she is experiencing joy. She has absolutely nothing and yet she has Everything. She wanted us to know that even in her wretched state, she was grateful that we had come, “That God had seen her, that He knew her and that He loved her.”
Two weeks later I received a note from our Malawian partner that Chrissy
had gone home to be with her Lord & Saviour, to take up residence in her “beautiful home in heaven”.